Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ayn Rand and Disabilities: Part 1

Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan has said that Ayn Rand's writings are the reason he got involved in public service. While he's tried to distance himself from Rand's atheism, his policies very much follow her views on individualism and capitalism.

Craig Seligman sheds some light on Rand's perspectives in a Business Week commentary titled "Ryan's Hero Ayn Rand Sneered at Disabled Children." Specifically, Seligman points to Rand's novel "The Fountainhead," in which an architect's building is remodeled into the "The Hopton Stoddard Home for Subnormal Children,” whose administrators are described as “zealous ladies who were full of kindness” (a word that Seligman says "Rand almost always invokes with contempt") who admit “only the hopeless cases”:

“There was a 15-year-old boy who had never learned to speak; a grinning child who could not be taught to read or write; a girl born without a nose, whose father was also her grandfather; a person called ‘Jackie’ of whose age or sex nobody could be certain. They marched into their new home, their eyes staring vacantly.”

Seligman writes, "Even if you agree with those conservative Republicans who think a helping hand will only encourage the poor in their lack of initiative ... disabled children?"

Seligman concludes: "It’s easy enough to see how an artist besotted with ideals of perfection might want to reject the ordinary in her work. But politicians ply their trade in the only world we have -- the one that, presumably, they want to improve. When a novelist who despises the world and the people in it becomes their guiding star, we sneer at our own risk."


Ryan on Rand

2005:
“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.” 
Source: Ryan Lizza, "Fussbudget: How Paul Ryan Captured the GOP," The New Yorker, Aug. 6, 2012

2008:

“What’s unique about what’s happening today in government, in the world, in America, is that it’s as if we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel right now. I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault.”
Source: Jane Mayer, "Ayn Rand Joins the Ticket," The New Yorker, Aug. 11, 2012

Read Ayn Rand and Disabilities: Part 2.
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