(May 20) The late Phyllis Schlafly isn’t the only conservative badly mistreated by the Hulu series Mrs. America. The other women of Schlafly’s Eagle Forum organization are treated even worse, and the portrayal is sickeningly unfair.

Many others quite rightly have defended Schlafly, so suffice it to say here that she was much more gracious than the series portrays her. More importantly, it is defamatory for the series to insinuate that she, a devout Catholic, would accept even an arm’s-length, wink-and-nod alliance with the viciously anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan.

Yet not even those or other cheap shots against Schlafly are as consistently abusive as are the unceasing portrayals of her Eagle Forum lieutenants as buffoonish, simple-minded, weak, and in some cases openly racist. Anyone who knows the real longtime leaders of the Eagle Forum understands how risible those portrayals are.

For example, Mrs. America concocts a fictional organization leader in Louisiana identified only as “Mary Frances” (last name unknown), who is a raving racist. The real Eagle Forum leader in the Bayou State was Marilyn Thayer, who won the group’s Eagle Award in 1976, exactly in the time frame the series covers. Thayer was, like Schlafly, a force of nature. She had inexhaustible energy, an astute mind, a strong will, and, not least, a huge heart manifested in countless acts of kindness….

Perhaps Schlafly’s longest-lasting deputy, now national president of the Eagle Forum, is Eunie Smith of Alabama, where I now live. Smith has been on the organization’s board since its inception in 1975. Smith is lovely, charming, and brilliant. Every journalist in Alabama knows that whether or not they agree with the state Eagle Forum’s positions, they can be assured that the research behind Eagle Forum recommendations is fact-based and well-documented.

Schlafly’s leader in Virginia for a quarter century, meanwhile, was Helen Blackwell, whom I wrote about when she died last year. Just as with Schlafly, Blackwell’s first big political interest wasn’t in “family issues” but rather in defense and foreign policy, on which she wrote eloquently way back when she was in an art history graduate studies program in 1963….

[The full column is here.]


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