Columbus, America, Indigenous Tribal Savages, and the Left’s Destruction of Historical Inquiry

My celebration of Columbus Day yesterday was enhanced by this excellent article by Charlotte Cushman: Save Western Civilization: Defend Christopher Columbus. In this article, which was published three years ago but which I read today for the first time, Cushman writes,

It is important that children know this story. Why? Because it is their story — a story about Western civilization, which is their heritage. They need to know the events that led up to the establishment of their country. They need to know that the United States didn’t always have cars, televisions, computers, stores, and enough food to eat, and then further learn how it came to be that we have all these things. They also need to understand human virtues such as courage, reason, and strength of character and what can happen when someone exercises his own judgment in the face of opposition.

I also recommend Columbus Day: A Time to Celebrate, an article by Michael Berliner, and The Enemies of Christopher Columbus, a book by Thomas A. Bowden.

These works were written in part to defend Columbus because, as Berliner writes, “Columbus is routinely vilified as a symbol of slavery and genocide.” More importantly, these works were written to defend Western Civilization because, as Berliner also writes, “The attacks on Columbus are ominous, because the actual target is Western civilization.”

Search the Internet, and you will see that the overriding opinion today is the opinion of the Leftists—the multiculturalists or whatever they call themselves this year—that American Indians were the good guys who were defeated by the evil Western Civilization.

I will not use a term used obscenely today to denote American Indians: ‘Native American’. Thanks to my grandparents, who immigrated to the United States, I am a native American. The indigenous inhabitants of North America before Columbus were Stone Age savages, lauded today by political Leftists because the Leftists hate the achievements of the West and embrace the primitive ideas of the savages: ideas such as animism (now known as environmentalism), tribalism (now known as identity politics), collective ownership (now known as socialism, communism, fascism, etc.), human sacrifice for the alleged good of the tribe (now known as altruism), and majority rule without regard for individual rights (now known as democracy). A contemporary Leftist is an indigenous savage in mind while his body enjoys the staples and luxuries created by Western Civilization.

The works I cite above do a thorough job of establishing what should be obvious to any rational individual: Western Civilization stands alone—like a hero among drones (or worse)—as the highest achieving, most moral society in the history of the world; and anyone born of another tradition should be profoundly grateful that Western Civilization spread to the Americas—via Columbus—and also to other parts of the globe.

Indeed, the only plausibility in criticizing Columbus for some of his actions comes from moral standards—in particular, the principle of individual rights—established and recognized only in Western Civilization.

But the Leftist attack on the West has taken another terrible toll that cannot be recovered simply by defending the virtue of Western Civilization. Search the Internet today, and you will see that the overwhelming mass of reporting, analysis, and teaching of the history of indigenous peoples in relation to Americans is of alleged abuses by Americans against the indigenous peoples. Then there is also a smattering of defense of Americans. But in the shadow of this lopsided controversy, the life-and-death questions that historians should be asking and answering—and that students should be studying—seem to have been ignored or forgotten.

Here is one such question: Why did some savages adopt Western Civilization, and others not?

This question leads to many derivative questions. Why did savage tribes—upon observing a civilization with a written language, science, mathematics, advanced art, advanced technology, far superior abundance of food, shelter, clothing, etc.—choose to stick to their own, primitive, deadly ways? What about the indigenous individuals who did embrace Western culture? Why did they do so when those around them did not? What happened to those who did so? What actions by American government and private individuals succeeded in assimilating indigenous people, and what actions failed? What actions would have been more successful?

The addressing of such questions seems to be limited to some accounts of religious groups having founded schools for American Indians, and the story of Pocahontas (sometimes told truthfully, often not).

Other important questions are these: What was the best way to deal with savage, often violent tribes to minimize the harm to innocent Americans? What was the safest way for the United States to have gained sovereignty over the entire territory we now have, ultimately denying sovereignty to all of the Indian tribes and thus defending individual rights throughout the land? [This paragraph was inadvertently omitted from the version posted this morning.]

Even to ask such questions as those I raise, one must first know that Western Civilization is vastly superior to the primitive tribalism of the pre-American Indians. But this knowledge has been erased by the Left. We must rescue that knowledge so that serious historical inquiry can even begin again.

The value of such historical inquiry would be immense. The resulting knowledge could be applied to how best to deal with the indigenous savages of today’s Muslim world.

Though today’s Islamists are far worse morally than the pre-American savages (because the Islamists are in a far better position to know better), the Islamists nevertheless have children who are as ignorant as the pre-Americans. Conversely, many of the pre-American adults knew enough to know better too.

Though today’s Islamists have far more military power—robbed from the West—than the American Indians had in the 19th century, the gap in military power between us and our present adversary is far greater. Instead of taking decades to subdue American Indians, we could conquer the Middle East in a matter of days if we chose to use our full military might. But there still remains the question of how best to manage the conquered territory and eradicate the threat of Islamism, as we eradicated the threat of attack from American Indians, while saving and assimilating as many true innocents as possible who are themselves trapped within the evil society of Islamism. I and others already have a general answer to that question informed by history, but a close study of the history of America vs. primitive indigenous tribes—from the perspective of recognizing the moral superiority of America—would help immensely with identifying more specifics of that answer.

In short, the history of Americans vs. pre-American indigenous savages is bound to be full of life-saving lessons on how to deal with Islamists. To discover these lessons, we must first rescue historical inquiry from West-hating political Leftism by recognizing the moral superiority of Western Civilization, and then we must go beyond that rescue mission.

Sympathy for the Enemy

Many have discussed the absurd evasion by Obama in his speech on Wednesday evening in stating, “ISIL is not Islamic.” ISIL is acting consistently with the Koran, which is to Muhammad’s Islam what Mein Kampf was to Hitler’s Nazism. But Obama said at least four other very bad things in the introduction of his speech.

1. This is how Obama introduced ISIL: “At this moment the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL — which calls itself the Islamic State.” That is, Obama opened with the implication that Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa have legitimate grievances against some other group. Against whom? Obama does not say, but the implication is that the legitimate grievances are against non-Muslims—Americans, Israelis, Jews, and others in the civilized West. That is, Obama opened his speech with an implicit assumption that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is we civilized, affluent Westerners.

2. Obama spoke about the most selfless, death-wishing collection of nihilists—consistent Muslims—in the history of the world and cast them as self-interested, acting “for their own gain.”

3. Obama’s next words were, “Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents … .” That is, any philosophy—simply by including a mystical belief in a supernatural deity—gets a moral pass on any other evil it stands for.

4. Obama’s next sentence was, “And ISIL is certainly not a state.” One sentence later, Obama said, “It is recognized by no government nor by the people it subjugates.” That is, (Islamic) dictatorships such as Iran—our worst enemy in the Middle East—and Saudi Arabia have nothing to worry about from America, because they are states. And murderous groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas have nothing to worry about either, because they are recognized by governments.

In his brief introduction, Obama essentially said this: The fundamental problem in the Middle East is we Westerners; life-renouncing Muslims are the good guys; Islamic states that are resolved to destroying us are safe from us; and we are just going after the few rogues who, like American capitalists, pursue “their own gain.”

That was the theory part of Obama’s speech. The practice part was equally bad, of course. Perhaps I will elaborate next week; but in the meantime, here is the theory and practice I recommended in 2001, and still recommend.

Happy Atlas Shrugged Day 2014

September 2 is Atlas Shrugged Day, the anniversary of the day (in 1946) on which Ayn Rand began writing the novel. September 2 is also a significant date in the novel, and the date on which the story begins.

I celebrate Atlas Shrugged Day by reading passages from the novel, often by opening the book to a random page. Every page is a great part of what I consider the greatest work of art and most advanced human achievement.

Here is a passage I opened to today:

She saw the man who had left, by his reflection on Ken Danagger’s face. It was not the face she had seen in the courtroom, it was not the face she had known for years as a countenance of unchanging, unfeeling rigidity—it was a face which a young man of twenty should hope for, but could not achieve, a face from which every sign of strain had been wiped out, so that the lined cheeks, the creased forehead, the graying hair—like elements rearranged by a new theme—were made to form a composition of hope, eagerness and guiltless serenity: the theme was deliverance.

He did not rise when she entered—he looked as if he had not quite returned to the reality of the moment and had forgotten the proper routine—but he smiled at her with such simple benevolence that she found herself smiling in answer. She caught herself thinking that this was the way every human being should greet another—and she lost her anxiety, feeling suddenly certain that all was well and that nothing to be feared could exist.

—Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (New York: Random House, 1957), p. 443 (Part Two, Chapter 3).

Hamas is the Realization of the Leftist Ideal

The Leftist advocacy of democracy, which means unlimited rule by the majority, is evil. Just look at democratically-elected Hamas in Gaza.

The Leftist notions of allowing sovereignty and ‘self-determination’ to nearby savage tribes is evil. Just look at the evil perpetrated against Israel by nearby Hamas in Gaza.

The Leftist notion of multiculturalism, that all cultures are morally equal, is evil. Just look at Hamas in Gaza compared to the people of Israel, who built a paradise in the desert.

The Leftist notion of allowing totally open borders is evil. Just think of what would happen to Israel if it opened its borders to the people of Gaza, as Hamas demands.

The Leftist notion of pacificism is evil. Just think of what would happen to Israel at the hands of Hamas if Israel followed the advice of the United Nations Secretary-General to “stop fighting.”

The Leftist notion that what ‘the poor’ need is money given to them by ‘the rich’ is evil. Just look at Hamas in Gaza, which receives billions of dollars annually in ‘aid’ from around the world, demands even more ‘aid’, and spends it all on murder and training for more murder.

The Leftist notion that what an economy needs is socialist planning is evil. Just look at Gaza, with its economy run by Hamas in conjunction with socialist ‘ministries’ set up in Gaza with the help of the ‘United Nations’.

The Leftist notions of ‘rules and engagement’ and ‘proportional response’, to limit the casualties of the inhabitants of enemy territories, are evil. Just think of all the Israelis who have died to save the lives of people in Gaza, the majority of whom elected Hamas.

The Leftist advocacy of negotiation and compromise between good and evil is evil. Just think of what it has meant to compromise with Hamas, and what it will mean to compromise further.

The Leftist hatred of Western civilization—including Western values of reason, pursuit of individual happiness in life on earth, productiveness, individual rights, capitalism, technology, and art—is evil. Just look at Hamas, which seeks to eradicate all of these Western values—except for weapons.

The Leftist notion that economic class is the cause of human action is evil. Just look at Hamas, which has an elaborately-expressed ideology based on Islam, elaborate systems of schooling and communications media, and hoards of Leftist collaborators and apologists from every economic class.

The Leftist blanket condemnation of the policies of conquest, occupation, colonization, annexation, forced evacuation, and forced relocation is evil. Just look at what Israel ended up with as its neighbor by eschewing—and/or being forced to eschew—such policies: Hamas.

The Leftist notion of sacrifice of individual human life for some mystical cause—such as some one God or one ‘collective’ or the many animistic gods of environmentalism—is evil. Just look at Hamas.

Hamas is a reductio ad absurdum of every major Leftist cause in America, from putting American land under the control of American Indian tribes to pseudo-Indian Elizabeth Warren’s Occupy Wall Street to pseudo-President Obama’s “You didn’t build that.” Yet even in the face of this reductio, the Left still clings to its Leftism. Consequently, the Left takes its only other option: it opposes—and even condemns—Israel, the one moral island in the sea of evil known as the Middle East.

If any rational person doubts the abject evil of Hamas, the ruling political party in Gaza, here is one of many smoking guns: the Hamas Covenant. I suggest reading the entire nine-thousand-word document, or as much as is needed to understand that the excerpts below are representative of the whole.

Here is an excerpt from Article 7:

The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:
“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. …”

Note that “The Prophet,” Muhammed, lived in the 6th and 7th centuries, well before the time—1948—when, Hamas alleges, Israel ‘robbed’ land from Palestinians. Note also that the reference is to Jews, not Israel or Israelis.

Here is Article 8:

The Slogan of the Islamic Resistance Movement:

Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.

This is from Article 12:

Resisting and quelling the enemy become the individual duty of every Moslem, male or female. A woman can go out to fight the enemy without her husband’s permission, and so does the slave: without his master’s permission.

This is from Article 19:

Art has regulations and measures by which it can be determined whether it is Islamic or pre-Islamic (Jahili) art. …

The book, the article, the bulletin, the sermon, the thesis, the popular poem, the poetic ode, the song, the play and others, contain the characteristics of Islamic art, then these are among the requirements of ideological mobilization … .

All this is utterly serious and no jest, for those who are fighters do not jest.

This is from Article 31:

It is the duty of the followers of other religions to stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region …

Anyone reading the news knows that Hamas has in action sought to follow its charter religiously: forcing Taliban-like rules on Gazans, launching rockets to kill the civilized neighbors in Israel whom Gazans could instead learn from, forcing Gazan children into the path of return fire, planning the mass murder of kindergarten children in Israel (which would have occurred if Israel had agreed to the cease-fire terms demanded by Obama and Kerry), murdering anyone in Gaza who speaks in opposition to Hamas, etc., etc. (Caroline Glick and Daniel Greenfield are two sources of news and analysis that I recommend in particular.)

Yet in the choice between Israel and Hamas, the Left is compelled by its Leftism to side with Hamas.

In short, Hamas is sovereignty of savage tribes; political ‘self-determination’ by the majority; massive welfare payments, which are considered never enough, to the poor; control of economics by the tribe; moral and physical attacks on the productive and wealthy ‘one per cent’ (the Jews in Israel, compared to the rest of the Middle East); eradication of all Western values; mindless fanaticism in the sacrifice of all life, any life, as long as it’s human life. Hamas is the embodiment of Leftist political causes and the realization of the Leftist ideal, and that is why the Left supports Hamas.

And it is the Leftists’ support of Hamas that has enabled Hamas to survive the current conflict with Israel and move closer to its long-term goal—shared with other Islamists— of murdering every Jew in Israel and every non-Muslim in the world.

That the American political Left tolerates, apologizes for, and even sides with Hamas and other Islamists—who differ from Hitler’s Nazis mainly in that the Islamists brag about rather than hide the atrocities they commit—demonstrates that the Left will never complain about the violations of individual rights by the Obama regime. The Left is ready to accept a Nazi—or Islamist—takeover of America.

In 2011, I wrote the following passage, every word of which still applies today:

Israel’s valid claim to its land is that Israel is essentially a free nation that offers freedom to those who live there. Period. And that is why the Palestinians have no legitimate claim to sovereignty over any land: the Palestinians, through their oppressive regimes that have murdered their own as well as their civilized neighbors in Israel, have proved themselves unfit to govern. Where their ancestors—or parents—were born is irrelevant. Where their religious relics are located is irrelevant: as individuals must not be discriminated against solely for religious beliefs, neither do they deserve special favors for such beliefs.

If the Palestinians did have any valid claim of sovereignty—and they do not—it would be for the land occupied by the oppressive regimes surrounding Israel: Syria, Eqypt, Jordan, Saudia Arabia, Lebanon, and—most of all—Iran. But then, any moral society has a right to conquer these regimes, because these regimes have no right to exist.
With this understanding of principle, policy becomes clear. One of the few things that Obama was right about in his speech to AIPAC was, “The status quo is unsustainable.” That is true in spades. The United States and Israel should immediately declare war on Iran and wipe that nation off the map, seizing or destroying all of Iran’s energy assets and turning the valuable parts of that country into a colony of the U.S. That action alone would go a long way toward solving Israel’s problems, since so much of the terrorism in the Palestinian territories is supported and financed by Iran. After the destruction of Iran, over the course of a few days, the Saudis would probably be so frightened that they would surrender without a fight. If not, we should destroy them too. Ditto for Syria.
As for the Palestinians, we should oblige the aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who called Netanyahu’s speech to Congress a ‘declaration of war’ against Palestinians. The U.S.—in return for some land or other payment—should help Israel retake the Gaza strip, all of the West Bank, and South Lebanon. We should have no qualms about bombing civilian neighborhoods from which rockets are being launched; Israel should not risk Israeli lives for the sake of the lives in an enemy territory. After conquering these territories, we should figure out how many surviving Palestinians we can afford to assimilate, do our reasonable best to sift out the civilized ones and allow adoption of children of the others, and forcibly march the others out of these territories, sending them crashing through the borders of Egypt and Jordan.

Oh, and the ‘peace process’ and a ‘two-state solution’ should be repudiated.

Of course, what I propose will not happen. But it is the way to save Israel—and America.

What if the people who earned the money want to work less?

The irrational, evil theory of New Left politics—based on denial of the difference between external reality and the content of one’s mind, denial of free will, denial of the ability of the individual to know reality through reason, denial of reason as a guide to action, denial of any causal connection from one’s thoughts and choices to one’s achievements, denial of absolute moral principles, denial of individual rights in favor of sacrificing the individual to others or oneself, denial of the importance of any individual—has been proved wrong in practice again and again, and starkly so by the Obama Administration.

Obama promised that, under Obamacare, you could keep your health care and your doctor. But anyone with common sense knew that it was impossible to keep your doctor and also share him with more patients.

Obama and his Administration—including the Vice President, Secretary of State, UN Ambassador, and Press Secretary—were so blinded by their belief in their foreign policy of friendly dialogue with evil, that they assured the American people for weeks that the murderous attack against the American embassy and consulate in Benghazi, Libya was a spontaneous response to an obscure Youtube video, and they resolved to crack down on such expressions of free speech. But anyone listening to reports from Fox News—a news network derided by the Left for questioning at least some Leftist dogma—knew all along that the attackers were armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, items that would not be carried by spontaneous protesters, and that blaming the attack on the Youtube video was absurd. Moreover, anyone with common sense knew that blaming the attack on the video, and condemning the video as much as if not more than the attackers, was a confession of impotence.

In 2012, the day after the Presidential debate in which Obama ridiculed Romney for considering Russia a threat to the United States, I blogged this common sense:

To Obama, Russia—a nation run by a Soviet thug, persecuting its own citizens for political crimes, supporting Iranian murderers of Americans, violating the rights of our allies, and possessing 1,500 or more nuclear bombs—is not a threat “because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” Presumably, Obama in 1935 would have said that Germany is not a threat because World War I is over.

America—under Presidents Clinton, G.W. Bush, and Obama—has un-won the Cold War. If we don’t fight it again, against both Russia and China, we will lose it.

Regarding Iran, Obama is even worse. …

Just a year and a half later, Russia under Putin has invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, for starters.

There was another recent New Left absurdity that I did not write about directly. I often do not write about a news item when it first becomes news, because I hope that someone else will write what I think needs to be written. But when time passes, and no one has written what I hope to read, the urge to write begins to consume more time than writing would, and I allow myself to fall behind in my other work, and I write what’s on my mind.

I have let too much time go by on this item, but it is too important to drop.

On February 4, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report that estimated the effect of Obamacare (known officially as the Affordable Care Act, or ACA) on the labor market. On February 10, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf wrote,

We wrote in the report: “CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor.” The reason for the reduction in the supply of labor is that the provisions of the ACA reduce the incentive to work for certain subsets of the population.

For example, under the ACA, health insurance subsidies are provided to some people with low income and are phased out as their income rises; as a result, a portion of the added income from working more would be offset by a loss of some or all of the subsidies, which represents an implicit tax on earnings. Also, the ACA’s subsidies effectively boost the income of recipients, which will lead some of them to decide they can work less and still maintain or improve their standard of living.

Ultimately, we project that the number of jobs in the economy will be smaller than it would be in the absence of the ACA because some people will choose not to work at all, but CBO did not estimate the size of that change separately from the effect of people choosing to work fewer hours. We wrote in the report: “The reduction in CBO’s projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024 … The decline in full-time-equivalent employment stemming from the ACA will consist of some people not being employed at all and other people working fewer hours; however, CBO has not tried to quantify those two components of the overall effect.”

Many on the political Right concluded that this report confirmed the common-sense idea that giving people what they have not earned also gives those people less incentive to work. This common-sense conclusion has always been disputed by many if not most on the Left, who call it an insult to claim that many people getting unemployment checks or welfare checks choose to work less than they otherwise would without such welfare payments.

But the new New Left of Obamaland has adopted a new position.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney released this statement on February 4:

Over the longer run, CBO finds that because of this law [(Obamacare)], individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods, like retiring on time rather than working into their elderly years or choosing to spend more time with their families. At the beginning of this year, we noted that as part of this new day in health care, Americans would no longer be trapped in a job just to provide coverage for their families, and would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. This CBO report bears that out, and the Republican plan to repeal the ACA would strip those hard-working Americans of that opportunity.

Many Leftists—such as Paul Krugman writing for The New York Times, and Jill Lawrence writing for Aljazeera America—agreed strenuously with Carney.

In other words, people who have their healthcare subsidized by Obamacare might work less; but—according to the Left—this result will be a good thing, because these people will have more time to do other things, to “pursue their dreams.”

Implicitly, these Leftists are admitting what the Left has haughtily denied for decades: many welfare mothers, many recipients of government-subsidized housing, many on unemployment insurance, many in government-subsidized education programs, etc. choose to stay unemployed or work less because of the payments they receive from the welfare state.

More importantly, these Leftists are evading this question: What if the people who actually earned the money want to work less? What if the actual earners want to work less at a day job in order to pursue their dreams.

A man today might work at his day jobs for 60 hours a week just to support his family. That work might leave him 15 hours a week, on a tired mind and body, to pursue his dream of starting a business, or becoming a musician, or writing a novel. If federal, state, and local governments—through payroll taxes, income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and regulations—reduce this man’s take-home pay by just 20%, then the man must work 75 hours at his day jobs, and his dream is dead. Even a seemingly modest 20%, confiscated or destroyed by government, transforms many lives of dreams and dreams fulfilled into lives of drudgery—forever.

Leftists often call their opponents ‘heartless’, but Leftists themselves are ‘heartless’ because they are mindless. They rob the money that dreams are made real from—even while now acknowledging that it takes money to pursue dreams—and they make themselves oblivious to the suffering they cause and the lives they destroy.

In 2011, I wrote of what the welfare state does to individuals

who work for many years at a job they do not love, for enough savings to pursue a lifetime of what they do love: an art, a craft, an intellectual study, a less financially lucrative but more personally fulfilling business. Instead of accumulating such savings by, say, the age of forty, these individuals may have to wait until the age of seventy. By what right, and to what kind of people, does society sacrifice the best years of the lives of these individuals?

Leftists sacrifice the lives of earners by no right, but by evil.

Every individual, no matter how wealthy, has only so many years of life. Every minute of his life, and therefore every dollar of his earnings, is precious and belongs to him for his dreams.

Now I am at peace and can go back to my day job. But how much more I could have written over the years if my earnings and the earnings of my friends had not been robbed by Leftist government!

Happy Washington’s Birthday 2014

Today I celebrated the birthday of George Washington by reading somewhat randomly selected excerpts from his writings. Here is a passage from a letter to the Secretary of State, on February 10, 1799, in the last year of Washington’s life.

I am not surprised that some Members of the Ho. of Representatives should dis-relish your Report. It contains remarks, and speaks truths which they are desirous should be unknown to the People. I wish the parts which were left out, had been retained. The crisis, in my opinion, calls loudly for plain dealing; that the Citizens at large may be well informed, and decide, with respect to public measures, upon a thorough knowledge of facts. Concealment is a species of mis-information; and misrepresentation and false alarms found the ground work of opposition. The plan of wch. is, to keep the People as much as possible in ignorance and terror; for it is believed by themselves, that a perfect understanding of our real situation, in regard to our foreign relations would be a death blow to their consequence and struggles; and for that reason, have always something on foot to disquiet the public mind.

The full letter is available online at http://etext.virginia.edu/washington/fitzpatrick/ by searching on the text.

Happy Ayn Rand’s Birthday 2014

As always, I celebrate Ayn Rand’s birthday, February 2nd, by opening one of Ayn Rand’s novels to a random page and reading a passage. Every passage is marvelous. Today, I opened The Fountainhead to this passage (Rand [1943], 1952, 223–224, Part Two, Chapter 3), of one villain’s ironic written praise of another:

“Greatness is an exaggeration, and like all exaggerations of dimension it connotes at once the necessary corollary of emptiness. One thinks of an inflated toy balloon, does one not? There are, however, occasions when we are forced to acknowledge the promise of an approach—brilliantly close—to what we designate loosely by the term of greatness. Such a promise is looming on our architectural horizon in the person of a mere boy named Peter Keating.

“We have heard a great deal—and with justice—about the superb Cosmo-Slotnick Building which he has designed. Let us glance, for once, beyond the building, at the man whose personality is stamped upon it.

“There is no personality stamped upon that building—and in this, my friends, lies the greatness of the personality. It is the greatness of a selfless young spirit that assimilates all things and returns them to the world from which they came, enriched by the gentle brilliance of its own talent. Thus a single man comes to represent, not a lone freak, but the multitude of all men together, to embody the reach of all aspirations in his own….

“… Those gifted with discrimination will be able to hear the message which Peter Keating addresses to us in the shape of the Cosmo-Slotnick Building, to see that the three simple, massive ground floors are the solid bulk of our working classes which support all of society; that the rows of identical windows offering their panes to the sun are the souls of the common people, of the countless anonymous ones alike in the uniformity of brotherhood, reaching for the light; that the graceful pilasters rising from their firm base in the ground floors and bursting into the gay effervescence of their Corinthian capitals, are the flowers of Culture which blossom only when rooted in the rich soil of the broad masses….

I can think of people today who fit this description of Peter Keating.

Reference

Rand, Ayn ([1943], 1952), The Fountainhead. New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company. Reprint, New York: Signet.

Essence of Obama

Based on Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address and everything else Obama has said and done as President, I suggest these slogans and talking points that capture the essence of Obama:

Let me be clear. I will plan your life. Period.

By taking your money so that it is spent on my plans for your life instead of your plans for your life, and by issuing orders for you to follow my plans instead of yours, I will make you free.

My opponents don’t have a plan for the economy, for education, for training, for retirement, for health care, for energy, for jobs, for wages, for investments, for diets. What kind of dictators are they?

If you have your own plan for your life, tell it to me. If I think it’s good, I’ll let you do it! And I’ll force everyone else to follow your plan too!

If you are a “hardworking” worker and “work hard,” or if you would “work hard” if only someone would give you some “hard work,” then you are entitled to a share of what everyone else produces, no matter how much or how little you yourself produce by your own “hard work.” If you work hard scrubbing floors, you are entitled to a heart transplant if you need one. If you work hard cleaning someone else’s house, you’re entitled to a house of your own. If you work hard polishing a lamp, you’re entitled to a genie. (Obama mentioned his Marxist, labor-theory-of-value notion of ‘hard work’ nine times in his SOTU address.)

I am tough on murderous leaders of murderous dictatorships by always telling them they have only one more chance to negotiate with us, reduce their plans to murder more Americans, and become our friends.

Obama is an enemy of freedom and a destroyer of America.

Now that thoughts about Obama are out of my system, I am ready to celebrate Ayn Rand’s birthday tomorrow, February 2.

A Female Spouse of a Male Spouse?

The recent controversy over a TV personality’s comments against homosexuality have reminded me to write the following addendum to my blog posts, “The Volitional, Objective Basis for Heterosexuality in Romantic Love and Marriage” and “I am Married … to a Woman.”

In these prior posts, I argued that marriage is between a man and a woman—not based on religion or procreation, but based on the importance of the sex of each partner in a romantic relationship. I debunked the mainstream theories that affirm non-heterosexual orientations. Most importantly, I presented a positive theory of heterosexual romantic love.

In Part 6 of “The Volitional, Objective Basis for Heterosexuality in Romantic Love and Marriage,” I wrote

Calling homosexual unions ‘marriage’ is as absurd as calling all spouses ‘wives’.

The concepts ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ provide a good analogy to the need for the gender-specific concept of marriage. These concepts are even more abstract than ‘marriage’, as they are derived from ‘marriage’. Yet these concepts still reference gender. Why do we need these concepts when we have the concept ‘spouse’? Doesn’t ‘female spouse’ convey the meaning of ‘wife’?

Well, who wants to say, “I love my female spouse” instead of “I love my wife”? The former statement is not condensed enough to be held it in our mind in the way we need. Yes, ‘female spouse’ contains all the characteristics that are contained by ‘wife’. But ‘female spouse’ is a phrase, not a concept; the phrase is not condensed enough to serve the cognitive need that a concept fills. Similarly, the phrase ‘heterosexual marriage’, with marriage referring to any kind of civil union, would not be condensed enough for holding the current meaning of ‘marriage’.

My criticism above is accurate; but it is much too lenient.

For one thing, if the concept of marriage were extended to include same-sex civil unions, then the phrase ‘female spouse’ would no longer clearly refer only to people we now call wives. A wife is a woman married to a man. But would a man married to a man also be a wife, in virtue of his being married to a man, or would he be a husband in virtue of his being a married man, or would he be both? The only way to be unambiguous would be to employ an awkward and difficult-to-grasp phrase such as “a female spouse of a male spouse’ to refer to what we now know as a wife.

But my earlier criticism is too lenient in a deeper respect: it omits an important issue regarding concepts. The issue is that a definition does not equal the meaning of a concept; the classic example is that the defining phrase ‘the rational animal’ is not the same as the concept ‘man’. When I wrote my initial blog posts on sexual orientation and marriage, I was not fully convinced that this issue applied. But now I am convinced, as I shall now explain. (For one analysis of the difference between a definition and the meaning of a concept, see Peikoff 1990, 88–106. My own analysis below has some significant differences.)

It is true that the phrase ‘rational animal’ refers to all men (including women) and only to men. It is true that all rational animals are organized to stand upright and move gracefully on two legs, have faces that express their powerful emotions that can be consistent with their rationality, have hands to shape the world in accordance with their rationality, have the capacity to integrate rational values with sexual desire, and are all members of a single species that has a distinctive physical appearance and other distinctive physical characteristics. That is, the phrase “rational animal,” once informed with the above knowledge, can identify all the attributes identified by the word “man.” But the words ‘rational’ and ‘animal’, taken separately, do not so identify all these attributes. And that fact leads to the crux of the issue.

As Ayn Rand (1990, 66–67) has identified, a concept is (metaphorically) a kind of “file folder” that includes many—open-endedly many—attributes of the referents of the concept. In my judgment, a phrase—such as “rational animal”—can also be such a file folder. However, in my judgment, the content of such a file folder, of either a concept or a phrase, is not a mere list of characteristics. The characteristics within a conceptual file-folder are arranged in a hierarchy. Such a hierarchy is the basis for, among other things, the rule of fundamentality: the most fundamental characteristics of a concept—such as the characteristics ‘rational’ and ‘animal’ of the concept ‘man’, belong in a concept’s definition. (In my “Theory of Propositions,” I write at length about the characteristics of a concept being in a hierarchy.) Other characteristics, such as that man can speak language, are derivative of more fundamental characteristics.

And here we arrive at the crux of the issue. Although the phrase ‘the rational animal’ means more than its constituent parts ‘rational’ and ‘animal’—that is, although the phrase ‘the rational animal’ encompasses all the characteristics encompassed by the concept ‘man’—the phrase nevertheless encompasses all of these characteristics in a different hierarchy, a different order of importance than the order entailed by the concept ‘man’. The phrase ‘the rational animal’ overly emphasizes the characteristics identified by each word—in particular, the word ‘animal’—taken separately, in an order of importance relevant to each word taken separately. That is, the phrase ‘the rational animal’ elevates and emphasizes all characteristics of all animals (such as that animals locomote and have a certain kind of cell structure in contrast to plants), and it de-emphasizes characteristics beyond rationality and even derived from rationality that are specific to and important to men (such as the characteristics of standing upright, having expressive faces, and having the capacity to integrate reason and emotion). Even on a perceptual level, the phrase ‘the rational animal’ tends to summon to mind the figure of a non-human animal rather than the figure of a man. Therefore, beyond the issue of condensation that I wrote about in my prior blog post, the phrase ‘the rational animal’ does not do justice as a substitute for the concept ‘man’.

Similarly and even more starkly, the phrase ‘female spouse of a male spouse’ does not do justice to the concept ‘wife’. Beyond being extremely awkward and difficult to hold in one’s mind, this phrase overly emphasizes strictly biological features of being female and male (such as having specifically male or female reproductive organs), along with legal and social characteristics of being a spouse, and de-emphasizes the distinctive kind of regard that a rational married woman qua woman has for her rational husband qua man (and vice versa).

As I discussed at length in my blog posts referenced earlier, this distinctive kind of regard includes that the husband is the primary source of physical power, is the physical protector of the wife, and is in charge sexually, while the wife is the primary source of physical beauty and is the supreme judge of the man in the man’s aforementioned responsibilities. Related to these different roles of the man and woman in marriage are clear differences in physical appearance of a man and woman. But in the current context, the specifics of why heterosexuals are sexually interested in members of the opposite sex and not the same sex are not the crux of the matter. The crux is that to a rational human being, the sex and sexual orientation of one’s spouse is important. Concepts such as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ must continue to capture that importance, identifying sex and sexual orientation with emphasis and definite clarity.

Even the phrase ‘woman spouse of a man’ de-emphasizes essential characteristics of being a wife, characteristics that are not contained in the meaning of the words ‘woman’, ‘spouse, and ‘man’ considered separately.

Similarly and just as starkly, the phrase ‘heterosexual civil union’ does not do justice to the concept ‘marriage’. This phrase emphasizes strictly physical sexual characteristics along with legal and social characteristics, and de-emphasizes the characteristics pertaining specifically to the romantic relationship between husband and wife.

But if the ‘LGBT’ activists had their hypocritical way—observe the strident hypocrisy of insisting on the separate words ‘lesbian’ (female homosexuals, the ‘L’ in ‘LGBT’) and ‘gay’ (male homosexuals, the ‘G’ in ‘LGBT’)—what we now know as ‘marriage’ would mean nothing more than ‘heterosexual civil union’.

References

Peikoff, Leonard ([1967] 1990), “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy”, The Objectivist 6(5)–6(9). Reprinted in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded Second Edition. Edited by Harry Binswanger and Leonard Peikoff. New York: Meridian.

Rand, Ayn ([1966–1967] 1990), “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology”, The Objectivist 5(7)–6(2). Reprinted in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded Second Edition.

December 8

Seventy-two years ago today, on December 8, 1941—the day after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor—the United States officially entered World World II. We faced some of the same enemies—most notably, Germany—that we had defeated in World War I just twenty-three years earlier.

In December of 1991, just twenty-two years ago, the Soviet Union fell. The United States had won the Cold War. Last year, in a blog comment, I wrote,

But we did not really win the Cold War. We were poised to win, but we failed to deliver the final blow. We could have demanded that Russia turn over its nuclear arsenal in return for economic trade.

Now a generation later, we have un-won the Cold War.

Two decades after winning the World War, we were losing World War II. Now—thanks to the fiddling of Clinton (“It’s the economy, stupid,” but who looks stupid now?), Bush, and Obama (who is doing something far worse than fiddling)—we are losing Cold War II.

We eventually won World War II, but at an enormous cost in innocent life. If we had lost, as we may lose Cold War II, the cost would have been far worse.

While Clinton was President, it was common for journalists to refer to the United States unequivocally as the world’s lone superpower. I doubt that most of the today’s younger generation have even heard of that expression.

The American generation that won World War II is often called “The Greatest Generation.” But it was the worst generation of political leaders—worst up until that time—that squandered the victory of World War I and left us vulnerable to our enemies in World War II.

Our leaders left us vulnerable to our enemies because our leaders—such as President Franklin Roosevelt and those in his administration—were sympathetic to the anti-capitalist ideas of our enemies such as Mussolini and Hitler.

Our leaders today—such as Obama and his administration—are even more sympathetic to the anti-capitalist ideas of our enemies today. Obama and his friends are from America’s newest ‘worst generation’ of political leaders; they grew up in the 1960s and later.

The legacy of the 1960s and later is no excuse for Obama to be the rights-violating, America-destroying nihilist that he is, but it partly explains why he has so many followers.

In my previous post, on the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, I presented a personal account of the evil, New-Left legacy of the 1960s, to which Presidents Kennedy and Johnson contributed. Now I present a personal account of another important contributor to that legacy: John Lennon, who was assassinated thirty-three years ago today.

Before John Lennon and the Beatles, I as a child never observed deliberate ugliness in art of any kind. Yes, there were Picasso and Jackson Pollock in painting, and John Cage and Charlie Parker in music, etc. But as a child growing up in the lower-middle-class Bronx, I nevert saw or heard such ‘art’. That garbage was confined to pseudo-intellectual ‘art’ holes such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I did not hear John Cage on the radio as a car drove by or as I walked past the candy store. I did not see prints of Picasso on the walls of the local diner or in people’s homes. Much of the music I heard was not great, but I never heard noise posing as music. I never saw a painting of disfigured figures. I never heard the f-word in a movie. And I never saw a human being deliberately looking unkempt.

This situation changed when, at the age of twelve in early 1967, I saw music videos on television of the Beatles performing “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

For me, the issue was not the lyrics. The issue was seeing successful young men choosing to dress and look like troubled bums, in disintegrated films, with noise on top of and alongside music.

These videos are very tame stuff by contemporary standards. But they opened the floodgates.

John Lennon had talent. Picasso had talent. It is always the talented ones who give credibility to ugliness in art, by personally crossing from beauty to ugliness.

John Lennon did not originate deliberate ugliness in art. He popularized it. He brought it from the museums of modern art and Greenwich Village cafes to the streets and living rooms and classrooms of the Bronx.

The world has never recovered. If not for Ayn Rand explaining why this all happened and why it does not have to be, I would not have recovered either.