By Chip Berlet

First posted 1/11/01
Revision 7

John Ashcroft appeared in a 1997 video from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum that portrayed the feminist movement, multiculturalism, reproductive rights, gay rights, environmental concerns, global cooperation, and even chemical weapons treaties as part of a secret conspiracy to promote a socialist One World Government and New World Order.

The video, "Global Governance: The Quiet War Against American Independence," is introduced by Schlafly who claims that President Clinton is part of a conspiracy outlined by his former professor Carroll Quigley, involving a "small elite" of "cosmopolitan" and "international" power brokers who are close to government and "equally devoted to secrecy and the secret use of financial influence in political life."

This type of conspiracist allegation is found in the right-wing of the Republican Party, the Patriot and armed militia movement, and the Far Right. The use of language about cosmopolitan international financial elites shows insensitivity to the historic use of such phrases to promote antisemitic claims of an international Jewish banking conspiracy.

Other featured speakers on the video include Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Jesse Helms, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Helen Chenoweth (now Helen Chenoweth-Hage) U.S. Representative, Idaho; and Patrick Buchanan, identified as a syndicated columnist & "Crossfire" co-host.

Both Chenoweth and Buchanan have made overtures to the Patriot and militia movements. In 1997 Rep. Chenoweth introduced a bill co-sponsored by 43 House members to block a federal plan to designate certain historic waterways "heritage rivers." The primarily symbolic gesture had been attacked by the Patriot movement and the overlapping anti-environmentalist "Wise Use" movement as a federal land grab. Some claimed it was part of a UN-backed New World Order initiative. A section of the Eagle Forum video raises similar concerns, complete with maps of US territory showing UN/US land grabs. Similar conspiracist charges are a regular feature of publications fromthe John Birch Society.

In early 2000, Chenoweth worked openly with the John Birch Society, a major Patriot group, in an effort to stop the transfer of the Panama Canal. In response, Jason F. Isaacson, director of the American Jewish Committee's Washington Office, wrote a letter to Rep. Chenoweth. Defending the right of the Birch Society to express its views in public, Isaacson wrote that, "We fear that your invitation to the John Birch Society to speak at Wednesday's congressional briefing gives weight and prestige to perspectives that are, and ought to remain, at the fringes of society...We respectfully urge you to withdraw your invitation." Issacson said AJC challenged "the wisdom of offering the Society a congressional platform from which to promulgate those views - views that for decades have fueled and thrived on conspiracy theories, nativism, isolationism and intolerance."

According to the video box for "Global Governance," in the video "You'll see the Clinton Administration's dangerous drive to ratify treaties that give global bureaucrats control over American land, natural resources, private property, our economy, and even our children and families."

Ashcroft is highlighted on the video box, and makes two substantial appearances including giving the video's closing comments.

In his first appearance, Ashcroft comments on claims that United Nations treaties protecting the rights of children are suspect and could result in overly-intrusive government meddling with parental rights:

"I don't really believe that our government should interfere substantially with child rearing. It would be wrong for states to tell parents what they could or what they should do with their children--or for the federal government. But when you take that beyond the state and the federal government to an international organization that would seek to tell you, for instance, that you couldn't take your child out of certain sex education classes in our schools, for example; I think a family ought to have a right to understand what values it supports in that arena, and to protect the child in relation to those values."

At the end of the video, after repeated attacks on how the United Nations and international conferences and treaties promote a radical feminist, pro-gay, abortion on demand agenda that will undermine the American family, Ashcroft says:

"I simply reject the notion that somehow we can go to countries where there is less freedom, less respect, less dignity for any affected population--whether it be women or children--and get them to tell us what we ought to be doing. I think as responsible individuals, given the capacity to make consequential choices by our government (and ultimately by God who created us to be free), we don't need an international organization to tell us how to treat our children, how to treat ourselves, how to treat our women, how to fashion our families. As free Americans we can make those decisions right here at home."

Throughout the video, assertions are made that enforcing UN and other global treaties is part of a grand design to destroy US sovereignty. At one point there is a hint that it is all part of a communist plot.

The Justice Department is involved in several ways with reporting requirements and enforcement responsibilities that evolve from some of these treaties.


[This section adapted from Right-Wing Populism in America]

Phyllis Schlafly, the grande dame of ultra-conservative conspiracism, wrote only the occasional column blasting Clinton's morality as symptomatic of decadent liberalism. She spent more space on her perennial issues such as fighting a big federal government, dismantling the Department of Education, opposing the UN, stopping globalism, and calling the nuclear device dropped on two Japanese cities near the end of World War II the "Lifesaver Bomb." Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum claimed 80,000 members in 1996.

See:  "Lifesaver Bomb," 8/10/95 at Schlafly's website

The politics of Schlafly (and much of her immediate family who are alsoultra-conservative activists) reflect the confluence of Old Right anticommunism and old church orthodoxy similar to the synthesis of other flag bearers of the Catholic Right such as Pat Buchanan and Paul Weyrich.

Phyllis Schlafly's book A Choice, Not an Echo suggested a conspiracist theory in which the Republican Party was secretly controlled by elitistintellectuals dominated by members of the Bilderberger banking conference, whose policies were allegedly designed to usher in global communist conquest. The title "A Choice, Not an Echo" became a campaign slogan. The book characterized the Goldwater campaign as a revolt of "Grassroots Republicans" against the secret internationalist "kingmakers" alleged to control both the Democratic and Republican parties.  A Choice Not an Echo mainstreamed the conspiracist idea that the shadowy elites behind Wall Street capitalism also propped up Moscow communism.  Schlafly, with retired Rear Admiral Chester Ward as co-author, also wrote The Gravediggers, tailored to support the Goldwater campaign, claimed US military strategy and tactics was actually designed to pave the way for global communist conquest. Inthe early 1960s, Schlafly's first passion had been aggressive Cold War foreign policy and military strategy, topics where she developed considerable expertise.

Under the leadership of Phyllis Schlafly, the right-wing populists waged a successful effort to block passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The campaign mobilized tens of thousands of women activists by skillfully portraying the ERA as a threat to women's financial security and other interests: "Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment would...deprive the American woman of many of the fundamental special privileges we now enjoy, and especially the greatest rights of all: (1) NOT to take a job, (2) to keep her baby,and (3) to be supported by her husband."  Schlafly's shift of focus to fighting the ERA indicated the narrow constraints placed on intelligent, capable women within the male-dominated Right, but also the movement's increased attention to domestic social issues. Her return to Cold War conspiracism in the video "Global Governance" needs to be seen in this larger context.

Fears over the protection of families and children were central themes for the New Right and especially its Christian Right component. Sara Diamond, author of Roads to Dominion, lists the key priorities:

"What people in the Christian Right want is pretty basic. They want laws to outlaw abortion which they consider a form of infanticide. They want to change the tax code to encourage married mothers to stay home and raise good kids. They want queers to get back in the closet and pretend not to exist. They want high quality schools; they think the public schools are failing not for lack of resources but because kids can't pray or read Genesis in biology class."

Source: Sara Diamond, "The Christian Right Seeks Dominion: On The Road To Political Power And Theocracy," in Eye's Right! Challenging The Right Wing Backlash, ed Chip Berlet (Boston, South End Press, 1995), p 47.

Additonal Sources:

Phyllis Schlafly, A Choice Not An Echo. (Alton, IL: Pere MarquettePress, 1964), pp. 111-121.

Long before her fame as an anti-feminist, Schlafly's first passion was aggressive Cold War foreign policy and military strategy, where she developed considerable expertise that went unappreciated in a largely male milieu; see Abby Scher, Cold War on the Home Front: Middle Class Women's Politicsin the 1950's, dissertation, sociology, New School for Social Research, May 1995, pp. 300-301.

Anti-communism ran in the family. Schlafly's husband Fred, an early political mentor, had lectured at Schwarz's local Christian Anti-Communism Crusade traveling schools. See Arnold Forster and Benjamin R. Epstein, Danger on the Right: The Attitudes, Personnel and Influence of the Radical Right and Extreme Conservatives, (New York: Random House/ADL, 1964), p. 271.The extended Schlafly family launched the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation to network Catholic anti-communists; see Chip Berlet, "Cardinal Mindszenty: heroic anti-Communist or anti-Semite or Both?," St. Louis JournalismReview, April, 1988. See also letters in June and July.

Phyllis Schlafly and Chester Ward, The Gravediggers. (Alton, IL: Pere Marquette Press, 1964).

The two authors went on to pen Strike from Space, which anticipated the right's call for the Star Wars program to defend against Soviet missle attack.

Phyllis Schlafly and Chester Ward, Strike from Space, revised and expanded, (Alton, IL: Pere Marquette Press, 1966).

Ward, a member of the National Strategy Committee of the American Security Council was also a lecturer at the Foreign Policy Research Institute which formulated many benchmark Cold War anti-communist strategies. See Russ Bellant, Old Nazis, the New Right and the Reagan Administration: The Role of Domestic Fascist Networks in the Republican Party and Their Effect on U.S. Cold War Policies, (Boston, MA: South End Press/Political Research Associates Series, 1991), pp. 35, 37.

On conspiracism and the Republican Right, See:

Pat Robertson, The New World Order, (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991), pp. 3-14, 36, 177-178.

Antony C. Sutton, Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution , (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1974).

James Perloff, Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline, (Appleton, WI: Western Islands [John Birch Society], 1988)

Phyllis Schlafly and Chester Ward, Kissinger on the Couch , (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1975);

W. Cleon Skousen The Naked Capitalist: A Review and Commentary onDr. Carroll Quigley's Book: Tragedy and Hope--A History of the World in Our Time, (Salt Lake City, UT: self published/Reviewer, 1970);

For a critique of this type of conspiracism, see:

Jacob Heilbrunn, "On Pat Robertson: His Anti-Semitic Sources," pp 68-71, TheNew York Review of Books, April 20, 1995.

Two favorites of conspiracist analysts:

Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, (New York: Macmillan, 1966).

Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, (New York: Books in Focus, 1981).

Quigley is said to have been unhappy with how the political right characterised and analyzed his work. (See Skousen, above).

Related pages on:
"Global Governance"

For background information on this type of conspiracism, see Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons, New York: Guilford Press, 2000.

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