I may have been upfront about this previously, but I must be upfront about it here: There’s a part of me (my male side anyway) who tends to let unsettling thoughts from the outside world simmer inside me. Sure, I may feel some self-remorse when they do bubble upward to the top of my mind, but when they do linger up there for a while, sometimes even an hour’s worth of dressing up doesn’t seem to soothe my feelings.
This was one of those weeks where those dark thoughts and my feelings to them really didn’t want to leave my mind. One of those thoughts (and if you hate me for thinking this, I perfectly understand) was this: I actually didn’t mind that someone died this week. At all. The someone in question was a lady by the name of Phyllis Schlafly.
Yeah, some of you reading this just got chills seeing that name. But, indeed, it was that Phyllis Schlafly. A scion of the bigoted, neoconservative movement here in the United States over the last half-century or so. The Phyllis Schlafly who always insisted a woman’s role should only be that of a housewife, and also once disgustingly stated that women should avoid sexual assault by getting married. The same Phyllis Schlafly who raised unfounded “fear” (note the quote marks) that passage of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution in the early 1980s would lead to gay marriage and other rights for the LGBT community. The very same Phyllis Schlafly who, despite having a son who is gay, wasn’t afraid to denounce a lawmaker with a gay son of his own who reversed his own course on marriage equality. The very same Phyllis Schlafly who, after marriage equality finally did come to the U.S., actually encouraged lawmakers to ignore the Supreme Court’s historic decision last year.
Yep, Phyllis Schlafly died earlier this week. And the reaction I came across from some people online and some through my Twitter feed was basically that of “Hey, Phyllis! Don’t let the door hit your backside on your way to Hell.” One even said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “I’ll speak only good about the dead, so I’ll say it’s good that Mrs. Schlafly is dead.” Yikes!
I tried to resist happy thoughts about Mrs. Schlafly’s demise, but I hate to admit that I became happy about her passing as well. I tried to not make it about her actual death per se, seeking instead to be happy that one less purveyor of hateful bigotry is no longer around to practice it. There is far too much hate in the world. Far too many arguments. Far too little understanding. Way too little in the way of respect and honor to others. And far too much self-righteousness directed by those like Mrs. Schlafly toward those whose lifestyles, backgrounds, etc. are what they consider inferior.
But when one shows or feels hate, scorn, and disdain for others, it says less about those they scorn and more about the level of darkness in their souls. It certainly applied to Phyllis Schlafly in her criticisms against women’s rights activists, the LGBT community, and anyone else who didn’t fit her world view. It also applies to those who, even with Mrs. Schlafly now gone, still adhere to the hate she encouraged so greatly; their hate only serves to tear down bridges of understanding instead of building them up.
And I also admit it applies to people like me, someone who will or could never see past the hateful actions of Mrs. Schlafly and her ilk and get at least an understanding of the people they are. They make it too easy too disdain them, though; most often their hate is what identifies them… or even makes them all of who they are. That made Phyllis Schlafly and her distrust and disdain for any nontraditional beliefs all to easy of a target. I was always taught as a kid that it was never right to hate someone for who they are or what they represent. But I couldn’t see past Mrs. Schlafly’s hateful words and beliefs. I think that was why I and others felt actual giddiness over her passing. I know, though, that there are those who truly mourn her death, who mourn her for the person she was outside of her old, worn, hidebound beliefs.
It’s that blurred line between the bigoted side of someone such as Mrs. Schlafly and the fact that they were all too human that can be hard to see sometimes. So, we must indeed pay condolences to her survivors. But at the same time, we must wish “good riddance” to her brand of intolerance. Let’s wonder that wherever she may be right now, she is beginning to realize the consequences of her hateful words and actions and the importance of embracing the uniqueness of others. And also hope that those of us still here on Earth will also have those same realizations… before we depart this mortal coil (which hopefully won’t be any time soon).