Dissecting Ayn Rand
In “Rand … Rosenbaum?” (Aug. 17), Rob Eshman tries to convince us (or himself) that Ayn Rand’s support of Israel confirms her Jewishness and contradicts her philosophy. Neither is true.
Eshman seems to think that her Jewishness is proved by her ignoring her Jewish background (of which there was precious little; although her Russian family celebrated some Jewish holidays, it also celebrated Christmas), and being an atheist. Interesting “reasoning.” All you have to do to prove your “Jewishness” is to ignore the cultural aspects and reject the philosophic aspects. Hard to think of a stronger case.
Rand’s support of Israel no more establishes her Jewishness than it contradicts her philosophy. Of course, she urged people to support Israel, but so have many non-Jews. She held that Israel (despite being semi-socialist and having a state religion) deserved support because it’s a bastion of Western Civilization, and Western Civilization is the embodiment of Rand’s philosophy of reason, rational self-interest and individual rights. “[The culture of the Arabs] is primitive,” she said, “and they resent Israel because it’s the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their continent.”
Her “Jewishness” is ignored by Ayn Rand Web sites because of its insignificance in her life.
Michael S. Berliner
The Ayn Rand Archives
Rob Eshman responds: Mr. Berliner is almost exactly correct. I do indeed think Ayn Rand’s Jewishness is proved by her willful excising of her Jewish past and identity from her biography. The list of successful Jews who have done or do the same — yet whose world views and thoughts are nonetheless shaped by the force they strive to suppress — is as long as Jewish history.
He’s also correct that Ayn Rand fansites ignore her Jewishness. But in her masterful biography “Ayn Rand and the World She Made,” Anne Heller, who is a nonacolyte and a critical thinker, goes into the Jewish impact on Rand’s life in fascinating — and honest — detail.
Mary Kaplan shines a blistering light on the sad shortcomings of the contemporary media when it comes to their failure to form a persistent and enduring counterbalance to the mega-money machine of lies and propaganda that constitutes the Republican campaign effort (“Romney/Ryan and the Lullaby of Lying,” Aug. 31).
The Republicans have nominated an even richer cipher than they did in 2000, and (who thought it possible?) a vice presidential candidate to the right of Dick Cheney; yet the one-and-done mainstream media have demonstrated collective amnesia on what this pairing wrought last time around, while essentially allowing a billionaire-fueled campaign of falsehoods, innuendo and race-baiting to pass for ideas. Kudos to Kaplan for pointing it out.
It seems like there’s been some tough love in The Jewish Journal, too (“Where’s the Tough Love for Obama,” Aug. 24). For the first time in years, I am unexpectedly yet delightedly reading a “centrist-liberal” take on the hypocritical double standard of a president who claimed to be the change that everyone was hoping for but has turned out to be just more of the same.
If self-criticism is such a virtue, then the president would have engaged in enough of it by now to realize that he has been advancing the same spend-and-spend, go-and-fight foreign wars statecraft of the previous administration. This is one nasty trend in American politics that must not be “sanitized.”
I commend Suissa for his open call for real scrutiny of this president, and I think more people in the Jewish community would be better served by concentrating their criticism on a president who has done much harm to this country’s relationship with our one ally in the Middle East — Israel. From pressuring Netanyahu for land swaps to open appeasement with hostile Arab countries, one can only ponder: “With friends like Obama, Israel needs no enemies.”
Thanks again, David. Keep up the good work.
Arthur Christopher Schaper
The Death of Rachel Corrie
If Rachel Corrie deserves to be remembered at all, it is as one who was not interested in the injustices to be found in her own city, her own state, her own country (“Rachel Corrie Suit Hinged on One Small Question,” Aug. 31). She was not one who was motivated to act on behalf of the victims of Russia or China or Iran or Iraq or Syria or Libya or North Korea or of the regime in Gaza. She was, as well, indifferent to the mortal struggles in dozens of other places where the victims have no powerful allies and do not enjoy the slavish, obsessive solicitude of the United Nations.
No, Corrie wasn’t interested in any of that. The 23-year-old Corrie, who did not know anything but who had all the answers, eagerly traveled halfway around the world to make herself an accomplice of the hateful, jihadist dictatorship in Gaza. In so doing, she made her own contribution to that ancient hatred, that convenient hatred, that most durable hatred, the hatred of the Jews.
While that is quite enough to make Corrie a hero in many parts of the world, decent people should not be confused about who and what she was.