Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Let Them Know

One form of activism is to take the initiative to contact prominent people or publications to make them aware of Objectivism and Objectivists, particularly if the Ayn Rand devotee has accomplished something of note. I read a review of two new books on Norman Podhoretz and the neoconservative movement in the New York Times book review last Sunday. When I’d read a certain sentence, I immediately decided to write to the Times to let them know about another new book about the neocons. No matter if the Times reviews the book that I suggests, I know I’ll have achieved my other purpose in writing to the nation’s most prominent newspaper: letting its editors know that Objectivists are writing serious books on important topics.

To the New York Times:

This is not a letter for publication, but rather it is a suggestion for your Sunday book review. In his review of two books on Norman Podhoretz and the neoconservatives “Turning Right,” (Aug. 1, 2010), Damon Linker writes about the book “Running Commentary,” “The result is the best book to date about neoconservatism …”

I beg to differ. The new book “Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea,” by C. Bradley Thompson, a political science professor at Clemson University, and Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, deserves this praise instead.

What makes their book original and the most insightful on this subject, and thus worthy of a review, is that Mr. Thompson and Mr. Brook evaluate this intellectual and political movement from a thoroughly new perspective, one gaining more ground and support as sales of “Atlas Shrugged” soar during these economically and politically distressing times: Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. If nothing else, their book draws clear and important distinctions between Objectivism and conservatism, two “-isms” that some people mistakenly or purposely lump together.

What other authors on this subject could demonstrate and come to the convincing conclusion that neoconservatism is actually a form of anti-Americanism – a rejection of the founding principles of this nation? That alone should intrigue you’re reviewers enough to read this serious, well-reasoned book. Otherwise, they should discover why Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic has already called this book a must-read.

I call it a must-review.

Joseph Kellard
East Meadow, NY

Monday, August 2, 2010

Identifying Our Enemies

By Joseph Kellard

While the Obama administration tries to eliminate any mention of Islam in connection to that religion’s faithful who, through words and force, are working to destroy the United States, Israel and other Western nations, there are individuals who are doing the opposite by clarifying certain crucial terms and issues.

That is what Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of “Infidel” and “Nomad,” accomplishes in this 2007 interview in which she rejects the term “war on terrorism” as inaccurate.

“It’s not a war on terror, it’s a war on Islam,” she says. “… The United States was attacked on the 11th of September in the name of Islam.”

This is true, and to name it otherwise is to deflect the blame for this war where it properly belongs, on its Islamic initiators and aggressors. “Terrorism” is merely an action, in particular a tactic, and actions are derived from people who initiate them. You wage a war against particular people, not their actions or tactics. So who are committing the terrorist acts? What motivates them?

In this war, it is the people most faithful to Islam. Ms. Ali is right to say that the Muslims who flew planes into the Twin Towers did so based on a conviction, that their attacks were ideologically motivated, no different than the communists and Nazis. In short, she identifies what the Obama administration wants to whitewash: that the terrorists act on particular ideology: Islam.

Yet this identification is not as precise as it should be, and thankfully Ms. Ali understands this issue and takes it an important step further. She appears uneasy with the term “war on Islam,” but not necessarily because it is still imprecise to say one is waging a war on a religion. Rather, she understands that this is an imprecise perspective from which to name the war.

Wars are started by aggressors, those who initiate force. The aggressors in this war are those faithful to Islam, who initiated this war, decades prior to 9/11, specifically on the West – particularly the people who most represent the core Western values that they adamantly oppose: reason, individualism and freedom. Properly described, this war is the Islamic radicals’ war on the West. And Ms. Ali shows that she understands this fact when she says: “It isn’t a war that was declared on Islam, but it is a declaration of war in the name of Islam on civil society and all the freedoms that we believe in.”

The Obama administration – just like the Bush administration before it but on a greater scale – evades these important facts. Meanwhile, certain defeatists still spout perhaps the weakest charges against the so-called war on terrorism, that is, that we can’t know who our are enemies are because they don’t wear uniforms, like the Nazis did during World War II. But think how much worse it is when our leaders fear even to name the ideology that motivates these non-uniformed Islamic aggressors? If we ever expect to destroy our Islamic enemies enough to have their followers permanently cease their aggression against us – and we’ve known for decades that our main enemy is the mullahs ruling in Iran --then we must, as a first crucial step, precisely name our enemy and the ideology that defines them.

Thankfully, we have individuals like Ms. Ali who are brave enough to identify our ideological enemies.