Thursday, March 12, 2009

Celebrate Individualism, Not Ethnicity

By Joseph Kellard

On St. Patrick's Day I won’t be wearing a button that reads “Proud to be Irish.” While I’m of Celtic stock, I’m neither proud nor ashamed to be Irish, but indifferent to this fact, as I would be if I were of any other ethnicity or race. Instead, I’m proud to be an individualist and an American, and believe our nation would be much better off if each of us rediscovered this outlook.

Individuals, of course, can properly enjoy ethnic-oriented celebrations such as St. Patrick's Day, with their particular music, dance, food, drink and (green) outfits. But I won’t proclaim any pride in my ethnicity or race.

That’s because pride is the emotional reward an individual earns after he achieves personally chosen rational values, such as honesty, a productive career, sticking to a healthy diet and earning a doctoral degree. Conversely, a man’s racial makeup is inborn and therefore outside his realm of choice. He can’t take pride in this non-achievement. And while he can be proud that his role models are individuals who did great things, he can’t take any pride for their achievements, especially because he shares their race.

For example, I can’t take pride for being a white man because Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were great achievers. To do so would be to adopt a false pride. Only through my own choices, actions and achievements can I, like any individual, foster pride.

I’m proud that I’ve overcome some learning obstacles in my youth to achieve certain goals I set, such as becoming a writer. I’m also proud to be an American, but not because I was born here, or because I belong to a nation that produced the great Americans previously mentioned, or because I subscribe to the faith “my country, right or wrong,” a nationalist attitude typical in Europe.

Instead, I’m a proud American because I chose to remain here and live by and fight for the original ideals that built this great nation: a love of the liberty that allows me to pursue my own life, values and happiness. In this land, I’m still free to choose my own creed, career, productive activities and friends, and be a self-made individual, just like the Edisons and Fords of America.

Being Irish is part of who I am, part of my heritage, but it plays no role in my basic identity. I define myself by the values and goals I chose to pursue and achieved, not by unquestioning conformity to the traditions of my ethnic-racial ancestry, nor by its achievers.

Yet America, the land of individualism, even in the aftermath of electing its first black president, remains Balkanized by race. This problem originates when children are taught to identify themselves primarily with their ethnic-racial heritage. Unchecked by individualism — by the idea that each person is autonomous and has the free will and reasoning mind to think for himself — these teachings lead, ultimately, to such abominations as calls for slave reparations, in which the individuals who would receive these handouts were never enslaved, nor have the individuals punished to pay them ever enslaved anyone. In reality, no individual is responsible, guilty or innocent, not as victimizer nor as victim, by virtue of their racial ancestors.

It’s high time for Americans to shed their false racial “pride” — and should stop championing essentially race-based pseudo-ideals such as multiculturalism — to pursue universal values beneficial to all men, no matter their biology or background. Identifying primarily with one’s physical genetics or racial heritage, and the eventual irrational divisions, wars and mass killings this tribalism has ultimately caused throughout history, is nothing to be proud of.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stimulus is Freedom

By Joseph Kellard

A New York Times reporter asked Barack Obama if he is a socialist. The president dismissed the question, but later called the reporter back to elaborate on his position. Here is part of what he told the reporter:

"I did think it might be useful to point out that it wasn’t under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks. It wasn’t on my watch. And it wasn’t on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement -- the prescription drug plan -- without a source of funding. And so I think it’s important just to note when you start hearing folks throw these words around that *we’ve actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles* and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word 'socialist' around can’t say the same." (Emphasis mine.)

So Obama promotes his administration as operating “entriely consistent with free-market principles.” Yeah, right, and slavery is freedom.

Yet, even for a leftist, Obama is treading no new deceptive ground here. I remember when Howard Dean was making a run for the presidency, he called himself a capitalist, or a believer in the free-market system, or something to that dishonest effect. Perhaps more leftists do it than I have witnessed.

What’s interesting, thought, is that Obama is on the defensive, trying to paint himself as a capitalist (although I don’t think he would use that particular dirty word -- not yet). So to put it more accurately, he’s trying to downplay his heavy socialist leanings. The president understands the negatives associated with the socialist label. Sadly, while many American voters do understand it (why else would he be so defensive about it?), still not enough grasp it deeply enough. If they did, they wouldn’t allow him to get away with the wrecking ball that is his economic policies.

Meanwhile, he’s doing his darndest to keep that ball swining under cover of capitalism.

Monday, March 9, 2009

New York Times on Climate Change Conference

By Joseph Kellard

The New York Times is reporting on the International Conference on Climate Change. The reporting is, of course, slanted. Just to give one example: The Times, reflexively, must mention how the Heartland Institute, the pro-freer market organizer of the conference, is funded by “Big Oil” -- which is one of the environmentalists pat non-arguments against global warming “skeptics.”

The article does not mention Yaron Brook or Keith Lockitch of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, who were expected to attend this three-day conference. I'll keep my eyes out for any mentions in the Times over the next few days, assuming they dare write anything further about this conference. I’ll check the editorial pages, too.

I had an LTE published in the Times in recent weeks, so I can’t submit another until late March (I think there is a 30-day rule for submissions). But other OActivists who are particularly interested in this issue may want to send in their own LTEs.

“From 1998 to 2006, Exxon Mobil, for example, contributed more than $600,000 to Heartland, according to annual reports of charitable contributions from the company and company foundations.

“Alan T. Jeffers, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, said by e-mail that the company had ended support ‘to several public policy research groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion about how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.’
“Joseph L. Bast, the president of the Heartland Institute, said Exxon and other companies were just shifting their stance to improve their image. The Heartland meeting, he said, was the last bastion of intellectual honesty on the climate issue."