Readings for January 23

Film Clips

  • Madonna Performs “Vogue” at MTV Movie Awards (1990) watch
  • Rodney King is Beaten by Police (1991) watch
  • Journalist Kathy O’Hearn Remembers Decision to Air King Video (2012) watch (Flash required)
  • Los Angeles Erupts in Riots (1992) watch
  • President George H. W. Bush Addresses the Nation (1992) watch (Flash required)


1. Barack Obama Elected President of Harvard Law Review (1990)

“First Black Elected to Head Harvard’s Law Review,” New York Times, February 6, 1990

The Harvard Law Review, generally considered the most prestigious in the country, elected the first black president in its 104-year history today. The job is considered the highest student position at Harvard Law School.

The new president of the Review is Barack Obama, a 28-year-old graduate of Columbia University who spent four years heading a community development program for poor blacks on Chicago’s South Side before enrolling in law school. His late father, Barack Obama, was a finance minister in Kenya and his mother, Ann Dunham, is an American anthropologist now doing fieldwork in Indonesia. Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.

“The fact that I’ve been elected shows a lot of progress,” Mr. Obama said today in an interview. “It’s encouraging.

“But it’s important that stories like mine aren’t used to say that everything is O.K. for blacks. You have to remember that for every one of me, there are hundreds or thousands of black students with at least equal talent who don’t get a chance,” he said, alluding to poverty or growing up in a drug environment.

What a Law Review Does

Law reviews, which are edited by students, play a double role at law schools, providing a chance for students to improve their legal research and writing, and at the same time offering judges and scholars a forum for new legal arguments. The Harvard Law Review is generally considered the most widely cited of the student law reviews.

On his goals in his new post, Mr. Obama said: “I personally am interested in pushing a strong minority perspective. I’m fairly opinionated about this. But as president of the law review, I have a limited role as only first among equals.”

Therefore, Mr. Obama said, he would concentrate on making the review a “forum for debate,” bringing in new writers and pushing for livelier, more accessible writing.

A President’s Future

The president of the law review usually goes on to serve as a clerk for a judge on the Federal Court of Appeals for a year, and then as a clerk for an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Mr. Obama said he planned to spend two or three years in private law practice and then return to Chicago to re-enter community work, either in politics or in local organizing.

Professors and students at the law school reacted cautiously to Mr. Obama’s selection. “For better or for worse, people will view it as historically significant,” said Prof. Randall Kennedy, who teaches contracts and race relations law. “But I hope it won’t overwhelm this individual student’s achievement.”

Change in Selection System

Mr. Obama was elected after a meeting of the review’s 80 editors that convened Sunday and lasted until early this morning, a participant said.

Until the 1970’s the editors were picked on the basis of grades, and the president of the Law Review was the student with the highest academic rank. Among these were Elliot L. Richardson, the former Attorney General, and Irwin Griswold, a dean of the Harvard Law School and Solicitor General under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon.

That system came under attack in the 1970’s and was replaced by a program in which about half the editors are chosen for their grades and the other half are chosen by fellow students after a special writing competition. The new system, disputed when it began, was meant to help insure that minority students became editors of The Law Review.

Harvard, like a number of other top law schools, no longer ranks its law students for any purpose including a guide to recruiters.

Blacks at Harvard: New High

Black enrollment at Harvard Law School, after a dip in the mid-1980’s, has reached a record high this year, said Joyce Curll, the director of admissions. Of the 1,620 students in the three-year school, 12.5 percent this year are blacks, she said, and 14 percent of the first-year class are black. Nationwide enrollment by blacks in undergraduate colleges has dropped in recent years.

Mr. Obama succeeds Peter Yu, a first-generation Chinese-American, as president of The Law Review. After graduation, Mr. Yu plans to serve as a clerk for Chief Judge Patricia Wald on the of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Mr. Yu said Mr. Obama’s election “was a choice on the merits, but others may read something into it.”

The first female editor of The Harvard Law Review was Susan Estrich, in 1977, who recently resigned as a professor at Harvard Law School to take a similar post at the University of Southern California. Ms. Estrich was campaign manager for Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts in his campaign for the Presidency in 1988.

2. University of California Repeals Affirmative Action (1995)

The Daily Bruin, July 23, 1995

SAN FRANCISCO – After a 12-hour meeting in which they were bullied by politicians, besieged by protesters, and evacuated by a bomb threat and a civil disturbance, the University of California Regents voted to stop admitting students, hiring professors, and awarding contracts on the basis of race and sex.

Thursday night’s decision evolved after a long day of public testimony and political wrangling among the 26-member Board of Regents, who voted 14 to 10 and 15 to 10 on a pair of proposals to do away with race- and sex-based preferences in the UC system.

The proposals came from Regent Ward Connerly, who first raised the issue in January with an emotional speech about the injustice of affirmative action. Late Thursday night, he celebrated the decision, saying that the Regents chose the right path in governing the university.

Gov. Pete Wilson – a regent by virtue of his office ­ argued that “California’s diversity must be achieved naturally,” and that the UC’s affirmative action policies stood in the way of attaining that natural diversity.

“Students at the University of California should achieve distinction and will achieve distinction without the use of the kind of preferences that have been in place,” said the governor, his voice still hoarse from his throat surgery two months ago.

Somewhat stunned by the defeat, Rev. Jesse Jackson, after leading nearly 1,000 protesters in a daylong siege of the regents’ meeting, pleaded with the board to continue their affirmative action policies.

“Replacing race and gender solely with economic criteria attempts to deny the existence of racism and sexism, which are systemic, institutionalized forms of discrimination,” Jackson said. “The scale of inequality suggests that larger social and historical forces are at work.”

During eight hours of public testimony, the regents heard from many university officials and students who argued that the university would be making a grave mistake in passing Connerly’s proposals.

Prior to the meeting, UC President Jack Peltason, all of the UC’s chancellors and other administrators sent letters to the Regents expressing their support for affirmative action.

“If you vote to dismantle affirmative action, you are doing so in utter disregard of the entire university; in defiance of its president, of its vice presidents, of all its chancellors, of the faculty of all nine campuses, and of the student leadership,” said Dr. Haile Debas, dean of UC San Francisco’s medical school.

Debas’ comments struck a chord with many in the audience, including the chancellors and administrators who applauded his remarks.

The regents’ repudiation of all its top academics became a major issue during the long meeting. Many speakers denounced the regents for following the governor’s lead in lieu of heeding the advice of its chancellors, faculty and president.

Several state legislators – including former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown – went before the board to allege that the Regents serve as political tools in the hands of Republican presidential candidate Wilson.

“You run the risk … of descending into the political arena - the arena of the Pete Wilsons, the Willie Browns, the Tom Haydens,” Brown said. “To (pass Connerly’s proposal) would be to consign the university to the same base place where we, in the world of politics, reside.”

The atmosphere of Thursday’s meeting matched its divisive content, with tensions flaring so high that protesters stalled the meeting with a demonstration, causing all but five regents to flee the room.

The protest was sparked by a comment made by Regent Dean Watkins while the regents were debating the issue. Watkins apparently became fed up with some audience members’ taunts from the back of the auditorium.

“Can we clear the meeting room,” he quietly asked Chairman Clair Burgener.

Watkins’ statement was picked up by a microphone, and the crowd immediately erupted into open protest. Rev. Jackson and a group of ministers went to the front of the room to lead the audience in singing “We Shall Overcome.”

Twenty university police filed into the room in riot gear as 20 of the regents fled to a secret meeting site on another floor of the building.

During the disturbance, Jackson grabbed a microphone from the regents’ meeting table, stood on a chair and denounced the board, saying that there would be “no peace on the campuses until there’s justice.”

Within 15 minutes after the regents’ departure, the gathering of protesters appeared fractured, with one group of university employees, students and clergy clashing over what to do next.

Many said they wished to get arrested, but university police sergeant Jim Fox refused to order his troops to handcuff the protesters.

But the shouting inside the meeting did little to discourage the regents from passing Connerly’s resolutions.

In fact, several regents commented after the meeting that the disturbance made them less sympathetic to the protesters’ views.

The long-standing debate over affirmative action started with Connerly’s highly personal speech at the January regents’ meeting.

In his address, Connerly asked the university to investigate its policies of race- and sex-based preferences. Eventually, the debate snowballed into an issue of presidential proportions that divided California.

The regents then asked UC President Peltason and his staff to prepare lengthy reports on each type of affirmative action practiced in the UC system – in hiring, admissions and contracts. The administration began compiling the report in February, unearthing a series of revelations about UC policies.

UC Berkeley and UCLA said that they had given an extra reading to minority applicants to their freshman classes. Both universities agreed to discontinue that policy.

UC Davis and UC Irvine’s admissions offices revealed that they had been unconditionally admitting all minority applicants who met the minimum UC entrance requirements, without even reading their applications.

Several campuses – including UCLA – disclosed that they had hired minority faculty through a special program without meeting the normal advertising and interview requirements. In addition, similar methods were used to hire minority applicants for top administrative spots without following the UC’s formal hiring policies.

Despite these facts, the UC system’s affirmative action policies seemed to pass the strictest tests employed by university officials. Peltason joined with the chancellors, faculty and student organizations in endorsing the set of policies.

However, this show of support for affirmative action did not sway Connerly, who had promised as early as May to do away with many of the UC’s policies of preferential treatment.

After 12 hours of heated debate over his proposals, Connerly said he was glad the ordeal was over and reiterated that the Regents had chosen the right path in following the will of the people by abolishing affirmative action.

“Change is never easy,” Connerly said. “This is a historic moment.”

Lt. Gov. Gray Davis agreed with Connerly, but chafed at his upbeat portrayal of Thursday’s vote.

“It is a historic day, but Pearl Harbor was a historic day also,” Davis said. “(One which) we don’t look back on with any pride.”


3. The Contract with America, and Democratic Response (1994)

As Republican Members of the House of Representatives and as citizens seeking to join that body we propose not just to change its policies, but even more important, to restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives.

That is why, in this era of official evasion and posturing, we offer instead a detailed agenda for national renewal, a written commitment with no fine print.

This year’s election offers the chance, after four decades of one-party control, to bring to the House a new majority that will transform the way Congress works. That historic change would be the end of government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public’s money. It can be the beginning of a Congress that respects the values and shares the faith of the American family.

Like Lincoln, our first Republican president, we intend to act “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.” To restore accountability to Congress. To end its cycle of scandal and disgrace. To make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves.

On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:

Thereafter, within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, we shall bring to the House Floor the following bills, each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny.











Further, we will instruct the House Budget Committee to report to the floor and we will work to enact additional budget savings, beyond the budget cuts specifically included in the legislation described above, to ensure that the Federal budget deficit will be less than it would have been without the enactment of these bills.

Respecting the judgment of our fellow citizens as we seek their mandate for reform, we hereby pledge our names to this Contract with America.

Democrat Kent Conrad Responds to the Contract

Congressional Record (Senate), January 12, 1995, Page S821

Mr. CONRAD. Mr. President, ever since the November 8 election, the Republican majority and the media have been talking about the Contract With America. …

But when it comes to the budget and tax elements of the contract, there are two big problems.

First, the numbers just do not add up. There has been a lot of talk about what will not be cut, but the specific proposals on what Republicans believe should be cut fall far short of what is needed to balance the budget. And if the math does not work, the contract will balloon our deficits, explode the national debt, slow our economy, and leave future generations to clean up the mess.

Second, the tax cuts proposed by the Republicans are unfair because they are clearly designed to benefit the wealthiest among us far more than average Americans. And the program cuts necessary to finance these tax cuts, or the higher interest rates that will result when the Republicans fail to balance the budget as promised, will hurt the middle class. Let me explain why the contract does not add up and why it is unfair to average Americans.

We first have to look at the current budget outlook. The contract calls for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which would require a balanced budget by the year 2002. I strongly support this goal. Deficit reduction has been at the top of my agenda since I came to the Senate in 1986, and I have spent an enormous amount of time working on the Federal budget, learning about it, and devising plans to put our fiscal house in order. Every year I have been in the Senate, I have offered comprehensive plans in the Budget Committee, or far-reaching amendments in the Budget Committee or on the floor of the Senate, to achieve more ambitious deficit reduction goals.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Republican contract that is before us makes it far more difficult to meet the balanced budget goal. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it will take more than $1 trillion in cuts over the next 7 years to reach a balance by the year 2002. That is what this chart shows. This is what is necessary to achieve balance by the year 2002—over $1 trillion in budget cuts. …

But the contract makes things far more difficult because it promises hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts, most of which would benefit the wealthy far more than average Americans.

The Republicans call it the Contract With America. I call it a Contract on the Middle Class. In order to pay for the tax cuts, the Republicans will have to cut an additional $364 billion in the next 7 years, much of it from programs that benefit middle income families. So let me be clear. If we do not do anything to make the problem worse before we begin to solve it, we need $1 trillion in cuts over the next 7 years to S 822 achieve a balanced budget. But the Republicans suggest the first thing we do is not to cut the spending, but to cut taxes by $364 billion over 7 years. So they have dug the hole deeper. Instead of a $1 trillion problem to solve, they present us with a $1.4 trillion hole to fill. …

In addition, the contract calls for more spending on defense. Everyone wants a strong national defense, but the world has changed. We now spend more on defense than the next top 10 countries combined, even though there is far less danger to defend against than just a few years ago. In fact, we are the only remaining superpower in the world. Certainly we see this to be true when we look at the Russian Army that cannot even effectively deal with one element of its country that is in revolt. …

You have heard our friends on the other side of the aisle suggest over and over that they are going to close this budget gap by cutting agriculture, maybe eliminating farm programs completely and by cutting welfare. Mr. President, that is less than 5 percent of the Federal budget. They have a long, long way to go. The only thing they have come up with so far is welfare, foreign aid, and agriculture, a small fraction of overall spending. …

Mr. President, it’s clear we cannot balance the budget just by cutting agriculture programs, cutting foreign aid, and cutting welfare. That is less than 5 percent of what we spend. That is not going to do the job. Once again, we have public statements that sound good but just do not stand up to budget reality. They just do not add up. What we have is a Republican credibility gap.

Unfortunately, instead of giving us a detailed plan that tells us what they are going to cut in order to reach their goal, the Republicans have been telling us what they will not cut. First, they say we cannot cut interest payments on the Federal debt. Of course, that is true. If we did try to cut interest payments, the Federal Government would default and the economy would be thrown into turmoil. This takes over $2 trillion off the table of the $13 trillion we are going to be spending over the next 7 years.

Second, the contract authors say they are not going to cut Social Security. That takes an additional $2.9 trillion off the table.

Third, the contract authors have promised to increase rather than decrease defense spending. So cuts in defense spending are also off the table. That removes another $2.1 trillion from consideration. In fact, after the contract authors have finished making their promises, more than half of the budget is off the table. More than half of the budget cannot be considered in order to solve the budget problem that we face. …

This failure to talk about specific spending cuts sounds like deja vu all over again. We have heard it all before, Mr. President. History reminds us of the failed trickle down economics of the 1980’s. They can say it is a new Contract With America. They can put new clothing on it, but it is the same old trickle down theories, the same old voodoo economics.

History also tells us that faced with a choice between making tough specific spending cuts to pay for their proposals and letting the budget run out of control, the Republican Party will balloon the deficit and run up more and more red ink.

In the 1980’s President Reagan came to town promising huge tax cuts, increased defense spending, and a balanced budget. Does it sound familiar? Well, it is. It did not work then. It is not going to work now.

Instead, during that period the average annual deficits under Presidents Reagan and Bush were five times that under President Carter. The national debt tripled under President Reagan, from $900 billion to $2.6 trillion, and grew by half again under President Bush to $4 trillion.

Mr. President, all we have to do is go back and look at what happened when we previously relied on this economic theory. Here is the budget deficit line. From 1940 to 1980, the national debt of the United States was relatively stable. But the Republicans came to town in 1980 with this theory that they could cut taxes, increase defense spending, and somehow the budget would be balanced - even though it was not balanced when they began. It proved to be a complete fraud and hoax. Mr. President, this is what happened. We very nearly destroyed the economy of this country by creating a fourfold increase in the national debt.

Mr. President, these debts did not finance investment in our future. Instead, they reduced our national savings. The result was record high real interest rates. …

These policies squeezed the middle class while better off Americans, the top 20 percent of earners, saw their incomes increase. In fact, this chart shows the changes in family after-tax incomes by income group from 1977 to 1992.

Here is what happened. The bottom 20 percent in our country, the lowest one-fifth in terms of income, saw their after-tax incomes decline 12 percent. The next 20 percent in our country saw their incomes decline 10 percent. The next 20 percent of the income ladder in this country saw their incomes decline 8 percent.

This is the harsh reality of what occurred under a flawed economic policy and plan. Those 60 percent of Americans in the lowest income categories saw their incomes decline during this period. The next 20 percent of the people in this country saw their incomes rise a modest 1 percent. But look what happened to the top 1 percent. The top 1 percent saw their incomes increase 136 percent.

The facts are startling. Working men without college degrees—about three-fourths of all working men—saw a 12-percent decline in real wages since 1979. It is no wonder they are angry; it is no wonder they are upset; it is no wonder they are anxious about the future. …

I would warn those middle class Americans who listened to the promises of the Republicans in the 1980’s. What happened to you? What happened was the rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and the middle class paid the bill.


4. President Clinton’s State of the Union Address (1996)

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of the 104th Congress, distinguished guests, my fellow Americans all across our land:

Let me begin tonight by saying to our men and women in uniform around the world, and especially those helping peace take root in Bosnia and to their families, I thank you. America is very, very proud of you.

My duty tonight is to report on the state of the Union – not the state of our government, but of our American community; and to set forth our responsibilities, in the words of our Founders, to form a more perfect union.

The state of the Union is strong. Our economy is the healthiest it has been in three decades. We have the lowest combined rates of unemployment and inflation in 27 years. We have created nearly 8 million new jobs, over a million of them in basic industries, like construction and automobiles. America is selling more cars than Japan for the first time since the 1970s. And for three years in a row, we have had a record number of new businesses started in our country.

Our leadership in the world is also strong, bringing hope for new peace. And perhaps most important, we are gaining ground in restoring our fundamental values. The crime rate, the welfare and food stamp rolls, the poverty rate and the teen pregnancy rate are all down. And as they go down, prospects for America’s future go up. …

We must answer here three fundamental questions: First, how do we make the American Dream of opportunity for all a reality for all Americans who are willing to work for it? Second, how do we preserve our old and enduring values as we move into the future? And, third, how do we meet these challenges together, as one America?

We know big government does not have all the answers. We know there’s not a program for every problem. We have worked to give the American people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in Washington. And we have to give the American people one that lives within its means.

The era of big government is over. But we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves. Instead, we must go forward as one America, one nation working together to meet the challenges we face together. Self-reliance and teamwork are not opposing virtues; we must have both.

I believe our new, smaller government must work in an old-fashioned American way, together with all of our citizens through state and local governments, in the workplace, in religious, charitable and civic associations. Our goal must be to enable all our people to make the most of their own lives – with stronger families, more educational opportunity, economic security, safer streets, a cleaner environment in a safer world. …

Here, in this place, our responsibility begins with balancing the budget in a way that is fair to all Americans. There is now broad bipartisan agreement that permanent deficit spending must come to an end.

I compliment the Republican leadership and the membership for the energy and determination you have brought to this task of balancing the budget. And I thank the Democrats for passing the largest deficit reduction plan in history in 1993, which has already cut the deficit nearly in half in three years.

Since 1993, we have all begun to see the benefits of deficit reduction. Lower interest rates have made it easier for businesses to borrow and to invest and to create new jobs. Lower interest rates have brought down the cost of home mortgages, car payments and credit card rates to ordinary citizens. Now, it is time to finish the job and balance the budget.

Though differences remain among us which are significant, the combined total of the proposed savings that are common to both plans is more than enough, using the numbers from your Congressional Budget Office to balance the budget in seven years and to provide a modest tax cut.

These cuts are real. They will require sacrifice from everyone. But these cuts do not undermine our fundamental obligations to our parents, our children, and our future, by endangering Medicare, or Medicaid, or education, or the environment, or by raising taxes on working families. …

Tonight I want to speak to you about the challenges we all face as a people.

Our first challenge is to cherish our children and strengthen America’s families. Family is the foundation of American life. If we have stronger families, we will have a stronger America.

Before I go on, I would like to take just a moment to thank my own family, and to thank the person who has taught me more than anyone else over 25 years about the importance of families and children – a wonderful wife, a magnificent mother and a great First Lady. Thank you, Hillary.

All strong families begin with taking more responsibility for our children. I have heard Mrs. Gore say that it’s hard to be a parent today, but it’s even harder to be a child. So all of us, not just as parents, but all of us in our other roles – our media, our schools, our teachers, our communities, our churches and synagogues, our businesses, our governments – all of us have a responsibility to help our children to make it and to make the most of their lives and their God-given capacities.

To the media, I say you should create movies and CDs and television shows you’d want your own children and grandchildren to enjoy.

I call on Congress to pass the requirement for a V-chip in TV sets so that parents can screen out programs they believe are inappropriate for their children. When parents control what their young children see, that is not censorship; that is enabling parents to assume more personal responsibility for their children’s upbringing. And I urge them to do it. The V-chip requirement is part of the important telecommunications bill now pending in this Congress. It has bipartisan support, and I urge you to pass it now.

To make the V-chip work, I challenge the broadcast industry to do what movies have done—to identify your programming in ways that help parents to protect their children. And I invite the leaders of major media corporations in the entertainment industry to come to the White House next month to work with us in a positive way on concrete ways to improve what our children see on television. I am ready to work with you. …

I say to those who are on welfare, and especially to those who have been trapped on welfare for a long time: For too long our welfare system has undermined the values of family and work, instead of supporting them. The Congress and I are near agreement on sweeping welfare reform. We agree on time limits, tough work requirements, and the toughest possible child support enforcement. But I believe we must also provide child care so that mothers who are required to go to work can do so without worrying about what is happening to their children.

I challenge this Congress to send me a bipartisan welfare reform bill that will really move people from welfare to work and do the right thing by our children. I will sign it immediately. …

8. Supergirl Teaches Seat Belt Safety (1987)

In 1987, American Honda teamed up with the U.S. Department of Transportation to publish a comic book aimed at kids about the important of wearing a seat belt. The star of the story was “Supergirl.”


9. Phyllis Schlafly’s Report Criticizes Feminists (1991)

“The Radical Goals of the Feminists,” The Phyllis Schlafly Report, December 1991

The polls are now all reporting that “feminism” is a negative word. Women absolutely do not want to be called feminists. The American people, including (and especially) women, instinctively recognize that “feminism” means radical feminism—synonymous with “women’s lib”—and they don’t want to be tarred with that brush.

And it’s no wonder! The principal feminist organization is the National Organization for Women (NOW), whose radical antics have been shocking the public for the last twenty years. NOW’s best known spokespersons have been Betty Friedan, Eleanor Smeal, and Molly Yard. Women simply do not identify with their goals, their tactics, or their rhetoric.

The feminists themselves are now crying all over the television screens and the pages of metropolitan newspapers that they are the victims of a “backlash.” But they brought it on themselves. The American people saw their hatred, contempt, and envy of men by the way they carried on their eleventh-hour smear campaign to try to stop the confirmation of Clarence Thomas for U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

The last time the feminists so openly showed their true face to the public was at the taxpayer-funded event in Houston in November 1977 called “International Women’s Year.” That conference was the occasion when the gender-neutral feminists coalesced with the abortionists and the lesbians to try to force the Equal Rights Amendment down our throats.

That effort failed, just like their attempt to sabotage Clarence Thomas. When the American people get a good look at feminism, they answer with a resounding NO.

In the years between those two widely televised events, the American people tended to forget how radical the feminists are—and the media helped the feminists by not reporting their radical goals, their disgusting tactics, or their vulgar language. When you see feminists on television, they usually wear dresses, clean up their language, and sanctimoniously advocate “women’s rights.”

It is important to realize that, when the feminists talk about “women’s rights,” they don’t mean fair treatment for women in jobs, school, or home. When feminists talk about “women’s rights,” they mean a radical restructuring of society, with government using its power to force feminist goals on all the rest of us.

What are those goals? The best way to find out is to read the resolutions passed by NOW at its annual convention. NOW’s resolutions document what is meant by “feminism,” namely, the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion on demand at any time during pregnancy and financed by the taxpayers, homosexual and lesbian privileges, affirmative action quotas for women, government child care, legalization of prostitution, assigning women to military combat duty, and political action at every level of government to achieve these goals.

In order to carry out its political objectives, NOW has two political action committees. NOW/PAC endorses in federal elections, and NOW Equality PAC endorses in state and local races. NOW’s newspaper, called National NOW Times (Summer 1990), stated how NOW chooses the candidates it endorses:

Criteria for endorsement include support for the Equal Rights Amendment; reproductive freedom including Medicaid funding for abortions and young women’s rights; civil rights for all - including lesbian and gay rights; and legislation to decrease the feminization of poverty. Candidates for executive offices are also asked to support gender balance laws or commit to making appointments on a gender basis where there is no existing law. While NOW’s PACs use the same standards when evaluating male and female candidates, it is NOW policy that women be given preference as candidates whenever possible.

Here is a translation of the NOW jargon used in the above criteria:

Note: The first resolution below uses the expression “consciousness raising.” This is essentially a cult-type technique of indoctrinating vulnerable women with the message that women are oppressed victims, that men are the oppressors, and that a small cadre of bitter women should work together to demand power over men in order to “remedy centuries of oppression.”

In consciousness-raising sessions, women exchange their horror stories about men and, with this kind of mutual sharing and encouragement, little slights are magnified into grievances, small grievances are transformed into bigger grievances, and women are able to blame “society” or “all men” for their own failures, mistakes, and disappointments. These women are falsely led to believe that a constitutional amendment called ERA is the key to whatever they want, whether it is a raise, a promotion, a husband, a divorce, child custody payments, or simply revenge against men for real or imagined grievances. This is the psychology of producing bitter - but dedicated - women activists. As the first resolution below makes clear, consciousness raising is the “backbone” of NOW’s membership development.

Now read for yourself the actual text of some of the NOW resolutions passed in July 1991.

1991 NOW Resolutions

The Equal Rights Amendment

Whereas, the passing of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a priority of the National Organization for Women (NOW); and

Whereas, consciousness raising (CR) has been the backbone of chapters and their development; and

Whereas, the women new to NOW do not have a history of CR; and

Whereas, the process of CR is never ending; and

Whereas, through the CR process, women connect to women, and with this connection, we have strength and are empowered;

Therefore, be it resolved that National NOW inform chapter, state and regional leadership of the availability of materials, books and publicity to encourage CR to take place.

Lesbian and Gay Rights Actions

Whereas, Lesbian rights is one of the four priority issues of the National Organization for Women (NOW); and

Whereas, NOW supports Lesbian and Gay rights in all aspects and is working to achieve full incorporation of Lesbians and Gays in all aspects of society; and

Whereas, it is essential for NOW to continue to be visible and active in our support of Lesbian and Gay rights;

Therefore, be it resolved that NOW supports the following national actions:

  1. The Annual National Coming Out Day activities; and
  2. The April, 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. . .

Oppose Clarence Thomas

. . .Therefore, be it resolved that NOW oppose the confirmation of nominee Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court of the United States; and

Be it further resolved that NOW will pressure the Senate Judiciary Committee, especially Senator Biden and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, as well as the entire Senate to oppose his confirmation; and

Be it further resolved that since members of both political parties are responsible for the confirmation of the current anti-women Supreme Court majority and these members are now in a position to vote against nominee Thomas, that NOW will target for defeat any Senators who do not oppose the confirmation of Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court.

Funding of Abortion

Whereas, accessible abortion is a basic, fundamental right of every woman: and

Whereas, the United States government uses tax dollars to subsidize medical services through Medicare and Medicaid funding; and

Whereas, tax dollars should be available to pay for safe legal abortions so that the fundamental right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term can be equally accessible to all women regardless of socioeconomic status;

Therefore, be it resolved that the National Organization for Women (NOW) draft model legislation regarding funding at all levels for abortion and reproductive services in the states;

Be it further resolved that the Young Feminists can begin the struggle to win back and retain Medicaid funded abortions by organizing non-violent mass demonstrations calling for the repeal of all limitations on Medicaid abortions and call for free safe, legal abortions without restrictions.

Parental Involvement Laws

Whereas, young women’s lives are directly threatened by growing support for state laws requiring parental interference for abortions; and

Whereas, many such women are under the voting age and therefore wield little electoral power regarding this issue; and

Whereas, National NOW has already implemented a strong and far-reaching agenda actively opposing parental interference legislation; and

Whereas, National NOW is now officially working with young feminists to take control over their lives and their bodies;

Therefore, be it resolved that the NOW National board and NOW’s membership include parental consent/notification as an issue on its young feminist action agenda. . . .

“We Won’t Go Back”

Whereas, the reactionary forces in the Presidency, the Supreme Court, Congress, and the state legislatures are attempting to overturn Roe v. Wade, restrict access to birth control and family planning, and undermine 50 years of work to extend equality of the law to all persons regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, economic status or disability; and

Whereas, we pledge “We Won’t Go Back and We Will Go Forward” in our struggle for equality for all;

Therefore, be it resolved that the National Organization for Women launch an unprecedented mass campaign of defiance and triumph: “We Won’t Go Back - We Will Have Our Rights NOW.” This campaign will include:

  1. An all out fight to overturn the gag ruling enunciated by the Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan with direct action days in Washington, D.C. and in the districts and states of targeted members of Congress.
  2. A sustained fight to defeat the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court and any nominee who would sacrifice women’s rights and civil rights.
  3. The launching, in fall of 1992, of a new political campaign that will result in unprecedented numbers of feminist candidates based on the premise that women and people of racial and ethnic diversity and others who are determined to have economic justice, nonviolence and a healthy planet cannot be sacrificed whenever convenient by two outdated parties without principles and dominated by greed. This campaign will support feminist candidates who challenge incumbents who have abandoned the dream of equality and the hope of a decent quality of life for future generations on the planet and will confront the present two party system. . . .

Quotas and the Civil Rights Act

. . .Whereas, “quota” has become the catchword for opponents of civil rights, women’s rights and economic justice, and has been used to attack affirmative action, when in fact, quotas are used to exclude women and minorities from institutions and positions of power and to guarantee that the overwhelming under representation of women in decision-making positions is maintained;

Therefore, be it resolved that the National Organization for Women (NOW) intensify its commitment to the passage this year of a strong and uncompromised civil rights law to restore the rights of women and people of color so decimated by the Reagan/Bush Supreme Court, and that NOW will hold every member of Congress and the President accountable for the watering down or defeat of the Civil Rights Act; and

Be it further resolved, that NOW will not endorse any political candidate who backs away from full and unqualified support for affirmative action and the Civil Rights Act and will work to defeat any candidate who uses the phony issue of quotas to deny women and people of color economic justice.

Women in Combat

Whereas, during the Equal Rights Amendment fight, our opposition effectively fanned the flames of fear that women would be drafted and thrown into foxholes in some strange and distant country; and

Whereas, with women soldiers playing a more significant role in the Persian Gulf than ever before in our military history, we may have an unprecedented opportunity to bring to an end the lung debate over-whether women should be in combat, to expand career opportunities for women in the military and to remove what has been overwhelming obstacle to women’s equality and the Equal Rights Amendment; and

Whereas, exclusion of women from positions arbitrarily defined as “combat” is based on archaic ideas of what women and men are physically and emotionally capable of doing and outdated ideas of what modern military theory and combat are; and ….

Whereas, the exclusion of women from combat in the modern military is a fraud only to perpetuate a second class status of women in the military; economically and educationally disadvantaged young women cannot use the armed services, which are the largest vocational training grounds in the U.S., in the same way young men can to help themselves; young men can join, get training, a possibility of a pension and often veteran’s preferences in hiring when they leave the military; young women face higher entrance requirements and quotas limiting the numbers of women who get into the military-and once they get in, women receive less training and fewer promotions; women are almost 11% of the military, but fill only .9% of the military’s top 1000 officers’ jobs and only about .8% of the top 15,000 senior enlisted positions; and

Whereas, the combat exclusion hurts our country’s defense and foreign policy; women are effectively eliminated from most highranking leadership positions in the military by being excluded from career-enhancing, command positions defined as “combat”; and with women and women’s perspective missing from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other military policy bodies, our country’s public policy is the poorer; …

Now therefore, be it resolved, that NOW demands equality for women enjoining the military and in training, job assignments and benefits in the military; and

Be it further resolved, that NOW actively supports elimination of statutory restrictions on women in the military.

The “Women in Combat” resolution was passed by the National Organization for Women Board of Directors, September 16, 1990. …