Paul Ryan, the budget plan-toting and P90Xing representative from Wisconsin, was recently chosen by Mitt Romney as his running mate, yet a hatred for big government and love of washboard abs aren’t the only things he feels strongly about. Ryan has had a life-long fascination and appreciation of Ayn Rand, author of philosophical novels “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.” Recently, he’s taken to distancing himself from the libertarian hero; however his current position is in fierce contradiction with fairly recent statements of praise for the Russian-born author. (Photo: AP Photo)At the beginning of 1492: The Conquest of Paradise, we see an auto-da-fe taking place in Spain. We see two women who are about to be executed for heresy. It is apparent that they were "secret Jews" -- converts to Christianity who were accused of still being secretly Jews. (Signs of this incomplete conversion to Christianity at the time included changing your underwear weekly and not liking pork.) One of those condemned goes ahead and renounces Judaism and is rewarded by being garroted, a reasonably humane way to die, compared to the other woman, who does not, and will be burned at the stake. Paul Ryan better remember that when it comes to Ayn Rand and the left, the only reason that the left isn't calling for burning at the stake is likely because of concerns about global warming.
There is much about Randian ideas that I don't particularly like, but there is much that is worth at least discussing and considering. I think her notions of selfishness as a virtue are wrong because she failed to distinguish genuine selflessness from "Admire me for the good things I am doing." I understand, growing up in the Soviet Union, why the Russian Orthodox Church left a bad taste in her mouth about religion. But her ideas at times have been a useful antidote to the left's dominance over intellectualism this last century.