( foror )
Life and Work
During the 1917 Russian revolution a Jewish girl van named
Alyssa Rosenbaum was only 12 years old when she suffered a trauma that she
would never outgrow . Her body may not have been violated on the night that
Bolshevik soldiers burst into her father’s prosperous pharmacy, but the loss
of her family‘s livelihood hurt her at least as much as
the violation of her body would have done.
I don’t know why, but shortly thereafter, she let it be known that she had no faith in God.
When she went to college a few years later, she studied political science and vowed that one day she would become famous and warn the world of the dangers of Bolshevism.
What better way to pursue that goal than to sail to New York in the USA, and then find her way to Hollywood, after a brief stay in Chicago.
Along the way she shortened her long Jewish first name to “Ayn“ and found her equally short last name on her Remington Rand typewriter.
In no time Ms. Rand found work in the movie industry and
it wasn't long before she found the man of her dreams, not in that industry however,
but in the local newspapers. He was the most notorious man in American in 1928,
having achieved a level of national fame she craved, a man she was reading about
in the newspapers at the time. A man she hero-worshipped. she wrote effusively
about him in her diaries and was to base the heroes of several of her stories on him.
What young Ayn Rand saw in William Edward Hickman that would encourage her to base a novel, then her philosophy, then her life’s work, on him was quite straightforward: unfeeling, unpitying selfishness. In Hickman, Ayn Rand wrote that she had finally found the new model of the Superman (her phrase, likely borrowed from Friedrich Nietzsche). Only a worldview held by a man like Hickman, she believed, could ever prevent an all-powerful state from traumatizing another generation of small businesspeople and their children as the Bolsheviks had her family." Hickman’s words as recounted by Rand in her Journals, "I am like the state: what is good for me is right," resonated deeply with her. It was the perfect articulation of her belief that if people pursued their own interests above all else – even above friends, family, or nation – the result would be utopian. She wrote in her diary that those words of Hickman’s were, "the best and strongest expression of a real man’s psychology I ever heard."
Here is what the newspapers of the time were reporting about William Edward Hickman: “Ten days before Christmas, in 1927, Hickman, a teenager with slicked dark hair and tiny, muted eyes, drove up to Mount Vernon Junior High School in Los Angeles, California, and kidnapped Marion Parker – the daughter of a wealthy banker in town. Hickman held the girl for ransom, demanding $1,500 from her father – back then about a year’s salary. Supremely confident that he would elude capture, Hickman signed his name on the ransom notes, "The Fox." After two days, Marion’s father agreed to hand over the ransom in exchange for the safety of his daughter. What Perry Parker didn’t know is that Hickman never intended to live up to his end of the bargain.
The Pittsburgh Press detailed what Hickman, in his own words, did next.
"It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me," he said. "I just couldn’t help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marion. Then, before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly." Hickman didn’t hold back on any of these details: he was proud of his cold-bloodedness. "I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. I knew she was dead."
But Hickman wasn’t finished. "After she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out." Hickman then dismembered the child piece-by-piece, putting her limbs in a cabinet in his apartment, and then wrapped up the carved-up torso, powdered the lifeless face of Marion Parker, set what was left of her stump torso with the head sitting atop it in the passenger seat of his car, and drove to meet her father to collect the ransom money. He even sewed open her eyelids to make it looked like she was alive. On the way, Hickman dumped body parts out of his car window, before rendezvousing with Marion Parker’s father. Armed with a shotgun so her father wouldn’t come close enough to Hickman’s car to see that Marion was dead, Hickman collected his $1,500, then kicked open the door and tossed the rest of Marion Parker onto the road. As he sped off, her father fell to his knees, screaming.
Days later, the police caught up with a defiant and unrepentant Hickman in Oregon. His lawyers pleaded insanity, but the jury gave him the gallows. To nearly everyone, Hickman was a monster. The year of the murder, the Los Angeles Times called it "the most horrible crime of the 1920s." Hickman was America’s most despicable villain at the time."
As Hickman’s murder trial unfolded, Rand grew increasingly enraged at how the mediocre American masses had rushed to condemn her Superman, "The first thing that impresses me about the case," Rand wrote in reference to the Hickman trial in early notes for a book she was working on, titled The Little Street, "is the ferocious rage of the whole society against one man." Astounded that Americans didn’t recognize the heroism Hickman showed when he proudly rose above simply conforming to society’s rules, Rand wrote, "It is not the crime alone that has raised the fury of public hatred. It is the case of a daring challenge to society. … It is the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatever for all that society holds sacred, with a consciousness all his own." Rand explained that when the masses were confronted with such a bold actor, they neither understood nor empathized with him. Thus, "a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy was turned [by the media] into a purposeless monster." The protagonist of the book that Rand was writing around that time was a boy named Danny Renahan. In her notes for the book, she wrote, "The model for the boy [Renahan] is Hickman." He would be her ideal man, and the archetype for a philosophical movement that could transform a nation. "He is born with the spirit of Argon and the nature of a medieval feudal lord," Rand wrote in her notes describing Renahan. "Imperious. Impatient. Uncompromising. Untamable. Intolerant. Unadaptable. Passionate. Intensely proud. Superior to the mob… an extreme ‘extremist.’ … No respect for anything or anyone."
V.G. expose of Rand’s moral depravity: https://www.alternet.org/2019/08/the-right-wing-love-affair-with-ayn-rand- ties-conservatism-to-one-of-the-most-disturbing-sociopathic-killers/?comments=disqus
[ from http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2014/07/7-ways- paul-ryan-revealed-his-love-for-ayn-rand.html ]
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Senator Ron Johnson,
"Earlier this month was the birthday of Ayn Rand,
the controversial philosopher and novelist, who emigrated from
the Soviet Union in 1926. Regardless of what one thinks of her ideas,
there is no denying that she was a great American.
When the American intelligentsia was playing footsie with Soviet communism,
Rand unabashedly defended liberty and individual rights, America's core values,
famously declaring: "[The] United States of America is the greatest,
the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country
in the history of the world."
But this proud naturalized American, who arguably did more than any contemporary figure to restore the faith of Americans in America, might have been hounded out of the country if one of our current crop of Republican hopefuls had been president when she arrived. Why? Because Rand lied and bent every rule to gain entry into the United States
As a vehement anti-Bolshevist, she knew that she would die waiting in line if she applied for permission to permanently relocate to America, although that's exactly what she intended to do. Temporary tourist visas were easier to land, but only for those who could prove they didn't plan to settle here. So what did Rand do? She committed perjury. She convinced an American visa officer that she had a fiancé waiting for her in Russia whom she intended to marry after a six-month visit with her relatives in Chicago
But Rand instead married an American citizen in 1929, gaining a path to citizenship. According to Mimi Gladstein's biography, Rand timed her wedding before her visa, which she had gotten extended, finally expired
However, others doubt that Uncle Sam would have handed a three-year extension to a Russian passport holder, raising suspicions that Rand might have been – gasp! – an illegal immigrant when she got married
Either way, in a morally healthy universe, this would be regarded as pretty minor stuff, the equivalent of someone speeding on a highway to reach an emergency room. But today we live in a world where a small band of immigration restrictionists have acquired an air of legitimacy by loudly repeating their views. They have created a false moral equivalence between serious criminals and petty visa violators. They wield words such as "illegal" and "law breaker" like assault weapons. They deploy an arsenal of tropes (such as "What part of illegal don't you understand?") to quash rational immigration reform. And they have turned "amnesty," which Ronald Reagan proudly embraced, into a four-letter word that conservative presidential contenders shun. (Congratulations, Rush Limbaugh.)
– Indeed, the only candidate recommending something like amnesty is not Ron Paul – who, until recently, was touting every restrictionist canard and then some – but the rapidly fading Newt Gingrich. Unlike Mitt Romney, Gingrich is opposed to making life so miserable for illegals that they would "self-deport." And he doesn't think it would be practical to forcibly deport 11 million illegals out of the country, as Rick Santorum hints he does
Gingrich wants to create local citizens' boards across the country that would review the applications of illegals in their communities and determine if they had sufficient ties to deserve permanent residency – not citizenship, mind you. This is hardly a workable idea (although it is hilarious to imagine how such a board would have reacted to Rand, a godless, childless, chain-smoking woman preaching the gospel of selfishness in a heavy Russian accent). But a party in which Gingrich's cockamamie plans are the most nuanced and compassionate has to ponder in which of Dante's circles its soul is stuck
It's astonishing that not a single GOP candidate is willing to take on the restrictionists, even though a majority of conservative voters don't buy their arguments. According to a Fox News poll taken late last year, 57 percent of Republicans supported allowing "illegal immigrants" to stay and eventually qualify for citizenship. A previous Univision/Latino Decisions poll reported similar results
Nor is this surprising. The restrictionist rhetoric is so out of whack with ordinary common sense that most people instinctively recoil from it. They sense that visa violations are victimless crimes that won't usher in anarchy if not zealously prosecuted. Murder is always and everywhere wrong; no one needs the government to make it so. That's not the case with an act like crossing the border, which is legal under one set of policies and illegal under another. Cubans escaping political oppression, for example, become legal the minute they set foot on American soil. But Mexicans fleeing economic oppression should be regarded as criminals forever?
Yes, every nation has the right to control its borders. But both liberal and illiberal immigration policies are consistent with that right. Precisely because there is something inherently arbitrary about where the line is set, lawmakers can't maintain a posture of absolutist intransigence regardless of the ground-level response. Just as unduly high levels of taxation encourage tax evasion, unduly tight immigration restrictions encourage illegal border crossings – not to mention illegal hiring. The Competitive Enterprise Institute's Alex Nowrasteh points out that conservatives would never make tax cutting conditional on first ending tax cheating. Yet they see no contradiction in demanding the erection of a Berlin Wall on the Rio Grande as a condition for immigration reform
Something is grossly wrong when lawmakers, who are powerless to prevent individuals like 9/11 mastermind Mohammad Atta from entering the country, act like macho men against the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free." It shouldn't take a John Galt to knock some sense into their heads."
Shikha Dalmia is a Reason Foundation senior analyst and a columnist at The Daily, where this column originally appeared.