Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Phyllis Schlafly, conservative activist and ally of free Cubans

Requiescat in pace
August 15, 1924 – September 5, 2016
Phyllis Schlafly, American constitutional lawyer, founder of the Eagle Forum, and a long time conservative political activist passed away yesterday at age 92. She was a conservative icon who strode across the political scene for more than sixty years shaking up the consensus on political, cultural and foreign policy questions that on more than one occasion altered the status quo. One constant theme that she touched on for five decades was her defense of a free Cuba.

On April 9, 2015 Phyllis Schlafly offered the following critical analysis of the Obama administration's new Cuba policy.
Without the approval of the American people or even of Congress, President Obama made the unilateral decision to normalize relations with Cuba. His decision is bad for freedom and an outright concession to Communist tyranny, for which we got absolutely nothing in return, either for ourselves or for the Cuban people.
America has always been the beacon of hope for oppressed people all over the world. Obama’s decision makes it look like we have abandoned our support and encouragement for freedom. Obama’s decision certainly does not support freedom. Instead, it rewards tyranny. Communist Cuba will not have to give up any of its dictatorial policies in order to be recognized by America.
This sends a bad message to the world. It appears to say that our new policy will be to help dictators even though they refuse to reform human rights. This decision is an offense to the Cuban people who have been hoping that their country, with America’s help, will one day be free. Alas, Obama’s decision financially supports the current Communist dictatorship and gives it access to American dollars and economic aid without any concessions whatsoever for freedom.
We could have demanded, for example, free speech, the legalization of other political parties, and the immediate stoppage of terrorist activities. This decision was made by Obama unilaterally without any discussion or debate by Congress. This decision is bad for America, bad for Cuba, and bad for freedom all over the world. It is inconsistent with American principles and policies.
On the Cuba question Phyllis Schlafly was always ahead of the curve foreseeing how U.S. policy would perpetuate the Castro regime.  At the same time she was calling for a policy of liberation in Cuba. Following the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis she observed that “Cuba is now the headquarters of the Communist conspiracy in the Western hemisphere... Our policy should be to liberate Cuba." In 1964 Phyllis looked back at the legacy of the Kennedy Administration taking it to task for capitulating to the Soviet Union and abandoning the goal of a free Cuba:
"the Kennedy administration presented the Cuban crisis to the American people as a great victory and as evidence that we made Khrushchev back down! - whereas the truth is that the deal was a defeat for the United States, binding us to give up our bases in Turkey and Italy, guarantee Castro against any invasion, and accept Khrushchev’s word on how many missiles he withdrew."
When the mainstream media was demonizing Cuban American during the Elian affair in 2000 Phyllis Schlafly acknowledged the mother's sacrifice for her son to live in freedom and made the case as follows:
The mother of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez sacrificed her life so that her son could grow up in America. Her dying wish, according to a Cuban man who survived for two days on an inner tube, was that Elian could reach the United States and freedom. A reporter for the socialist Madrid newspaper El Pais investigated and learned that Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, had wanted Elian to go to America. Elian's relatives in Florida know very well that Elian is far better off in free America than in Communist Cuba where people are denied the everyday liberties we take for granted, including freedoms of speech, travel, and education.

One person, however, disagrees: Fidel Castro, whose apparatchiks no doubt "persuaded" Mr. Gonzalez to change his story. Elian's escape, like all defections, is an acute embarrassment to Castro. Communist suppression of the right to travel has long demonstrated the inhumanity of its system. The Berlin Wall, guarded by sharpshooters ordered to kill anyone who attempted to escape, symbolized the terror of Communism for an entire generation.

Flight that risks death constitutes the ultimate repudiation of Communist regimes and is often followed by vindictive attempts at retaliation by the humiliated dictator. KGB files newly opened to the West are full of examples.


Like all dictators, Castro is used to getting his way. He deliberately raised the political stakes of this controversy to the point where Elian Gonzalez is unlikely to have a normal life if he were returned to Cuba. The arguments about father's rights and family unity are phony when it comes to Elian's predicament. If U.S. authorities send Elian back to Cuba, it won't be to Elian's father; it will mean sending him back to be paraded around as a Castro trophy and raised, perhaps in a daycare center, to be a good Communist. The only persons the United States has forcibly returned to Cuba are criminals, and Elian surely is not a criminal. Does anyone believe that, if Elian's mother had died in the act of throwing her son over the Berlin Wall that we would have forcibly returned her boy to East Germany?

The mystery is why Clinton has sided with Castro. Perhaps his corporate friends are salivating over the potential for investments in tourism, gambling and other industries in Cuba where forty years of Communism have depressed the economy to the point where the ultimate luxury is a 1956 Chevrolet. Perhaps the Clinton Administration considers deporting Elian as necessary to appease Castro and facilitate open trade relations. Based on Clinton's policies toward Communist China, "follow the money" is usually a good explanation of his foreign policy. 
The first time I saw Phyllis Schlafly was at Florida International University on January 29, 1988 was when she was debating Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who defended "Jane Roe" pseudonym for Norma Leah McCorvey in the case that legalized abortion in the United States: Roe versus Wade. 
Schlafly was brilliant in her defense of the pro-life issue and leftists in the audience hated her with a passion.

Five years later in 1993, as president of Young Americans for Freedom at FIU successfully lobbied student activities to bring Phyllis Schlafly to speak at Florida International University. FIU Yafers took her out to dinner prior to the lecture. At the university lecture itself, I had the honor of introducing the conservative icon. She was a gracious guest and delivered an excellent lecture.

Years later met Phyllis Schlafly once again at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC she signed a copy of her book, A Choice Not an Echo and was once again friendly and approachable.  Over the internet, all kinds of leftists are slandering and libeling this great lady now that she cannot defend herself, but we Cuban Americans should honor her not only for her patriotic defense of America but also for her steadfast truth telling on Cuba and advocacy for Cuban freedom.

FIU YAF founder Craig Herrero, Phyllis Schlafly, Cesar Vasquez, John Suarez (1993)

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