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Eye on the Left

NOW
THE FUTURE Isn’t
The man-hating, conservative-trashing, governmentloving National Organization for Women has one of the most far-Lef , progressive agendas in the country. Americans beware.
By Matthew Vadum
hen someone is convinced that imaginary forces are aligned against him or her, that person is sent for professional help. Yet when people sharing the same unfounded beliefs get together and form a nonprofit organization, they often manage to secure government grants. A case in point is the modern feminist movement whose members carry on about women’s rights as if this were the year 1611, not 2011. To them, the so-called patriarchy, a cousin of Hillary Clinton’s “vast right-wing conspiracy” fantasy, is perpetually in motion denying women their rights. To remain convinced that women today are little better off than in the earliest days of the American experiment is quite a feat, given that women today enjoy complete legal and political equality, outnumber men on college campuses, serve in the military and law enforcement, occupy top corporate positions and sit in Congress and on the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, feminists trudge on, convinced by their own anachronistic propaganda. Their movement today is dominated by left-wing “gender feminists” and radical feminist Marxists who pump their limitless rage over the injustice of being born female into never-ending political fights. They are not interested in equal opportunity, but insist on governmentmandated equal outcomes for women in all areas in society. The feminist movement in the 21st century sees every statistical disparity between men and women as damning proof of sex-based discrimination. Today’s feminists demand government regulations and programs to help end all supposed inequalities. But even among those out-of-touch

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(AP/John Russell)

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“women’s rights” groups, there is at least one that stands out for inhabiting its own particularly nightmarish parallel universe in which reactionary phantoms torment well-intentioned progressives. That would be the 45-year-old National Organization for Women. With the perpetually outraged NOW, down is up, black is white, and it’s always midnight in that oppressive, sexist, racist country we call America. Although NOW has been overshadowed in recent years by NARAL Pro-Choice America (formerly the National Abortion Rights Action League) and similar liberal-left groups that target women, the radical feminists of NOW never miss an opportunity to bash the nation that gave them succor. After Republicans took over the House of Representatives in January and began the session with a reading of the Constitution, NOW President Terry O’Neill mocked the GOP for regarding the great national charter, in her words, “as a sacred, perfect document.” The Constitution “is far from perfect because it does not guarantee women’s equality.” Putting words in the mouth of an adversary is an old leftist trick. Of course, no one is claiming the Constitution is perfect. Although they were justifiably proud of their handiwork, the Framers didn’t claim it was perfect either. That’s why they inserted an amending formula in Article V so future generations could make modifications deemed necessary because of changing circumstances. Early generations of feminists, the suffragettes of the early 20th century, for example, campaigned tirelessly to win women the vote. As a result of the trailblazing efforts of Susan B. Anthony (a Republican!) and others, the 19th Amendment is now an essential part of the Constitution. Indeed, it’s hard to even imagine the Constitution without it. But that was a long time ago. Instead of following the proper procedure, feminists and other leftists nowadays prefer to amend the Constitution informally through the courts, which might help to explain why they are ignorant of the document’s contents. And to say the Constitution does not protect the rights of females, as O’Neill does, is too obviously ridiculous to spend time refuting here.

Abortion-rights activist and National Organization for Women (NOW) member Erin Matson, center, holds up a sign as anti-abortion demonstrators march toward the Supreme Court in Washington.
(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

BIG-GOVERNMENT AGENDA
So what do the out-of-touch, leftover, 1960sinspired radicals of NOW believe are the

most pressing issues in America today? According to O’Neill, NOW focuses on “advancing reproductive freedom, promoting diversity and ending racism, stopping violence against women, winning lesbian rights, ensuring economic justice, ending sex discrimination and achieving constitutional equality for women.” Nowhere to be found on the list is the importance of children and the family, national security, economic freedom, national debt and the worrisome size and scope of the gargantuan federal government. This makes sense because government is the tool feminists use to undermine civil society and the American tradition of limited government. Feminists, like other leftists, believe people must be forced to do what the Left considers to be the right thing. The “nanny state” and the feminist movement work hand in hand. Anti-capitalist NOW supports so-called “equal pay” legislation that would empower government bureaucrats to set the wages of employees in the private sector. The group also supports business-crippling mandatory paid maternity leave, affirmative action, higher taxes and endless extensions of unemployment and welfare benefits. Like a bunch of eager beaver student council members anxious to get into the

world of politics so they can play with people’s lives, the group takes positions on some things that don’t actually have much to do with “women’s issues.” For example, NOW is in favor of erasing the borders of the United States. The group supports granting an immediate amnesty to all illegal immigrants in the country. NOW also opposes a nonexistent problem called “anti-abortion terrorism.” What the group really means is that pro-life activists picketing abortion clinics is terrorism. Maybe NOW should have a chat with its friends in the labor movement next time there’s a strike. NOW’s members enjoy over-the-top, gimmicky protests almost as much as the anti-war radicals at the perpetually incarcerated, frequently topless Medea Benjamin’s group Code Pink for Peace. For example, last year after Fiscal Commission co-chairman Alan Simpson described the nation’s unsustainable Social Security program rather indelicately as “a milk cow with 320 million tits,” NOW wasn’t offended by his use of the slang term for breasts. In fact, NOW reveled in the vulgarism and one-upped the former lawmaker. The group arranged to deliver 1,500 baby bottle tops to Simpson as part of its “Tits for an Ass” campaign that pushed for his ouster.

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National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill delivers a bag full of baby bottle nipples to Alan Simpson, co-chair of the National Commission of Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, during a hearing held by the commission on Capitol Hill. The protest stemmed from remarks Simpson had made about Social Security. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

(Of course, the ass or donkey is the symbol of the Democratic Party. When Simpson represented Wyoming in the Senate he was a Republican, but there’s no point in letting facts get in the way of a good photo opportunity.) For a group that is so stridently antimilitary, NOW activists really seem to enjoy marching. In 1992 and 2004, they participated in the group’s March for

said former NOW President Patricia Ireland. It’s unclear which event Ireland is referring to since NOW almost never generates those kinds of numbers at its rallies. When archliberal Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., died last year, NOW glossed over his serial womanizing and the role he played in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. The group praised a man who had done so much to hurt individual women in his life

“They are not interested in equal opportunity, but insist on government-mandated equal outcomes for women in all areas in society. The feminist movement in the 21st century sees every statistical disparity between men and women as damning proof of sex-based discrimination.”
Women’s Lives. In 1997, there was the Million Woman March, and in 2000, the World March of Women. There was a double-header in 1996 when NOW participated in the Fight the Right March and the presumably more urgent Fight the Radical Right March. This is not an exhaustive list. “Many women I talk with say they got hooked on being an activist the moment they stepped off a bus and into a crowd of hundreds of thousands of other feminists,” for being “the Senate’s strongest advocate for women’s rights.” In January, O’Neill told CNSNews.com that her group opposes any and all cuts to federal spending, even if failing to do so drives America into a fiscal abyss. “We need increases in social programs,” she said. “Social programs at the state and local level are being decimated because states, unlike the federal government, can’t run a deficit. The federal government can and should [increase deficit spending] in order to

support these social programs.” O’Neill was disappointed that President Obama pragmatically backed an extension of Bush-era income tax rates in the closing weeks of the 111th Congress. “The thing that should have been done,” O’Neill declared, “is that the abusive tax cuts for the wealthiest people in this country should not have been extended.” And like many leftists, O’Neill has a tenuous grip on reality. She believes, “President Obama is a centrist legislator. When he was in the Senate he was a centrist.” In fact, Obama was rated the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate by the nonpartisan National Journal in 2007, well to the left of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent who openly describes himself as a socialist. O’Neill herself is a professional busybody. She was a law professor at Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, the hometown of the radical group ACORN. Naturally, she was deeply involved with the Louisiana chapter of ACORN, labor unions, Louisiana’s Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus and the Mayor of New Orleans’ Task Force on Domestic Violence. She has also drafted amicus briefs at the federal, trial and appellate levels on abortion rights for
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nation was forced to repudiate the Supreme Court with mass bloodshed. We remain steadfast in our belief that this will not be necessary again, but only if those committed to justice do not waiver or compromise, and send a clear and unmistakable signal to their elected officials of what must be necessary to earn our support.” This rhetorical flourish was too much for NOW, which objected to the phrase “mass bloodshed,” arguing that it constituted a green light to murder abortionists. “If there’s an audience that doesn’t need any riling up with allusions to violence, it’s anti-abortion rights extremists.” Because Erickson dared to publish the oped, NOW organized an online petition drive to “Tell CNN that Erick Erickson has got to go.” Erickson needed to be fired because he is “a political contributor on CNN’s ‘John King, USA.’ And NOW believe[s] that a mainstream media outlet like CNN has no business employing a radical propagandist like Erickson.” Apparently NOW has no problem with radical left-wing propagandists such as ACORN ally Paul Begala working on CNN. Last year, the thought police of NOW pushed to ban a funny, lighthearted Super Bowl commercial from a pro-life group even before it was aired, absurdly claiming that it glorified violence. In the Focus on the Family ad, 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow’s mother talks about how she worries about her son’s health. Suddenly Mrs. Tebow is tackled by a blur that turns out to be her son. Unfazed, uninjured, and smiling broadly, she gets up and says, “Timmy! I’m trying to tell our story here,” and Tebow laughs and apologizes and hugs his beaming mom. The word “abortion” never appears in the ad. Sounds harmless enough, doesn’t it? Not to Terry O’Neill. “I am blown away at the celebration of violence against women in it,” she said of the commercial. “That’s what comes across to me even more strongly that the anti-abortion message.” Here’s a translation of O’Neill words: “I am very upset that our conservative enemies put together an effective commercial that gently reminds viewers that having babies and raising them is not a bad thing.” NOW’s patronizing stance was too much even for sports columnist Sally Jenkins of the famously liberal Washington Post. “I’m pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not,” she wrote. “But based on what I’ve heard in the past week, I’ll take his side against the

A group from the National Organization for Women walks in Boston’s annual gay pride march.
(AP/Michael Dwyer)

Louisiana NOW, American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood. O’Neill has been president of Louisiana NOW, president of the New Orleans chapter and a member of NOW’s national board and National Racial Diversity Committee. She has also been active in Colorado NOW. She heads the NOW Foundation and the NOW Political Action Committees and serves as their principal spokeswoman.

SELECTIVE OUTRAGE
Like George Soros’ character assassination factory, Media Matters for America, NOW tries to intimidate its adversaries and have them fired from their jobs and stands up only for women who support NOW’s radical agenda. The group demanded Sarah Palin step down from the Republican presidential ticket in 2008 because she was not a radical left-wing feminist. Then-NOW President Kim Gandy described Sen. John McCain’s decision to place Palin on the ticket as “a cynical effort to appeal to disappointed Hillary Clinton voters and get them to vote, ultimately, against their own self-interest.” (A dissident NOW leader, NOW Los Angeles President Shelly Mandell, broke with the group and endorsed Palin, saying, “It is an honor to call her sister.” Palin “will fight for women’s rights” and “Lord knows, shake things up.”)

When Meg Whitman, who ran as a Republican last year for the California governorship, was called a “whore” by a member of Democratic candidate Jerry Brown’s campaign staff in an inadvertent telephone recording, NOW rushed to the defense of—Brown! California NOW President Patty Bellasalma told a reporter that “whore” was an accurate description of Whitman. “Meg Whitman could be described as ‘a political whore.’ Yes, that’s an accurate statement.” “The very troubling issue that is embedded in that call is what prompted the description of Meg as a ‘whore’ is basically that she sold out Californians for an endorsement and a $450,000 independent expenditure campaign,” said Bellasalma. NOW endorsed Brown. NOW was outraged earlier this year when RedState, a conservative website run by blogger and CNN pundit Erick Erickson, published an anonymously authored post that took a strong stand against the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand throughout the nation. The post hearkened back to the court’s infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857. In that ruling, which was one of the key events that set the stage for the Civil War, the high court held that slaves and blacks were not American citizens. The post stated that “once before, our

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group-think, elitism and condescension of the ‘National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time.’” When actual violence was done to a female lawmaker in Tucson, O’Neill lost the ability to think rationally. She blamed the January shooting of a Democratic congresswoman on—you guessed it—Sarah Palin. NOW stuck to its rhetorical guns even after it was revealed that shooter Jared Loughner was a severely mentally ill man with no particular interest in politics. Said O’Neill: “NOW condemns the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., that stole six lives and seriously injured 12 today. We condemn, equally, the culture of hate and violence increasingly reflected in extreme right-wing opponents of those who support progressive solutions to our country’s challenges. “Rep. Giffords, whose office was vandalized after she voted for the federal health care reform law last year, was also named on Sarah Palin’s ‘Targeted’ list. Giffords (who has been consistently endorsed by NOW’s someone explodes into murder.” Except that the 2010 incident to which O’Neill refers, when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., walked arm in arm with fellow Democrats to the Capitol to vote for Obamacare, never happened—no credible evidence exists that the N-word or other epithets were hurled at lawmakers that day. Now that’s chutzpah! 83,000 members in 1999. Like ACORN and other left-wing groups, NOW likely made up the impressivesounding 500,000 membership figure, knowing the mainstream media wouldn’t dare challenge a sacred cow of the liberal establishment. In addition to NOW itself, there is a NOW Foundation and a NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. NOW also has separately incorporated state-level organizations and a network of political action committees that give money to leftwing political candidates. Like the masters of merchandising at AARP, NOW offers long-term care insurance and discounts on car rentals at Budget. NOW had a 2008 budget of almost $3.5 million, $1,979,244 of which came from member dues. The group has taken in $106,200 from far-left philanthropist George Soros’s Open Society Institute since 1999 and $34,848 from the radical Tides Foundation since 2002. The NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund eagerly feeds at the public trough. According to Census Bureau records, the fund has taken in $2,778,262 in federal grants since 2003.

LYING ABOUT MEMBERSHIP ROLLS
Speaking of chutzpah, it’s not in short supply among groups such as NOW whose actual grassroots membership is dwindling. Groups including NOW take taxpayer funding and then campaign for bigger and more expensive government programs. Their lack of support among American women makes their battle cries only louder. NOW also puffs up its membership figures to enhance the group’s ever-diminishing credibility. NOW and groups like the League of Women Voters, which pack a political punch in Congress and state legislatures,

“With the perpetually outraged NOW, down is up, black is white, and it’s always midnight in that oppressive, sexist, racist country we call America.”
PAC) herself understood the not-so-wellveiled threat, stating ‘the thing is that the way she [Palin] has it depicted, we’re in the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize that there are consequences to that action.’” In her rush to smear conservatives who had nothing to do with the attack on Giffords, perhaps O’Neill didn’t know that using military terminology during a political campaign (itself a military term) is as American as apple pie, practiced by all parties. O’Neill then threw more fat on the fire, mocking conservatives for even daring to condemn the violence in Tucson: “The pious condemnations we are now hearing by right-wing leaders are of little comfort if not accompanied by concrete action. Conservatives cannot have it both ways, screaming sexist, racist and homophobic slurs at legislators as they vote for health care reform, putting legislators on a violence-inciting ‘Targets’ list, and then simply saying how sorry they are when “systematically and regularly” overstate their membership, according to Kimberly Schuld, author of Capital Research Center’s “Guide to Feminist Organizations.” NOW claims to have 500,000 members spread out over 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The membership figure is an impossibility. In 2008, NOW reported receiving $1,979,244 in member dues. Dues are $35 a year. Even if all members paid full dues—some qualify for discounts—the figure reported for membership revenues would yield only 56,550 members. Of course, NOW might be including all members claimed by state and local chapters. However, those groups “jealously guard their information and treat inquiries with suspicion,” Schuld says, so no one in NOW knows how many members there are. NOW reported member dues of $2,903,383 in 1999 when it also claimed to have a half million members. The fee structure was the same back then which means NOW likely had fewer than

NAMING THE ENEMY
And almost 30 years after conservative firebrand Phyllis Schlafly defeated the proposed Equal Rights Amendment almost single-handedly from her kitchen table, NOW is still pushing for the ERA, which could open the door to plenty of big-government programs by mandating equality of outcomes. According to NOW, men are the enemy. At a Jan. 6 media event, O’Neill declared: “As long as there are men in power in this country that keep women down we have to have an explicit guarantee of equality in the Constitution. That’s why we need a constitutional equality amendment.” Somebody needs to tell the feminists at NOW that women have achieved equality.•

Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C., think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy with a special focus on left-wing advocacy groups. An awardwinning investigative reporter, Vadum’s book on ACORN and its infiltration of the Obama administration will be published in mid-2011.

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