Paul Krugman’s Op-Ed in the New York Times today tells us that it is wrong for people to gain inspiration from fictional books. In his article, found here, he paints Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan as a zombie follower of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” Ryan’s crime is only that he has mentioned once or twice that he has been inspired at times by the works for Ayn Rand. For Krugman, it seems preposterous that a grown man would site a work of fiction as an inspiration.
Mr. Ryan is a man of many ideas, which would ordinarily be a good thing. In his case, however, most of those ideas appear to come from works of fiction, specifically Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.”
*Gasp* Oh, what treachery is this? According to Krugman, one must be some sort of imbecilic simpleton to actually gain ideas and inspiration from a mere work of fiction. Tell that to every union organizer who has read “The Jungle,” every free speech advocate who read “Fahrenheit 451,” every political idealist who read “All the King’s Men, ” – and while we are at it, let’s throw out everything by Gore Vidal, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and George Orwell. Is it not the purpose of quality fiction to comment on the human condition and inspire readers to examine thoughts and subjects they had not previously explored?
So what is so different about Paul Ryan and his supposed worship of Ayn Rand? Here is a clue: Liberals despise her. “Wait a minute,” you say. “That cannot be true, the main trunk of liberal philosophy is based on acceptance and understanding of all beliefs.” That is mostly true, of course, unless you are a promoter of such evils as free markets, small government, and fiscal responsibility. Individuals who subscribe to these beliefs are fair game to be dismissed, scorned, and openly mocked.
In their unstoppable quest to demonize him, Ryan attackers are quick to bring up a 2005 speech Ryan gave to the Atlas Society as evidence of his unmovable devotion John Galt.
But Mr. Ryan is being disingenuous. In 2005, he told the Atlas Society, which is devoted to promoting Rand’s ideas, that she inspired his political career: “If I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.” He also declared that Rand’s work was required reading for his staff and interns.
Let me understand this. Paul Ryan says he read the works of Ayn Rand, and they inspired him. What is so wrong with that? He disagrees with her on many issues, namely abortion and religion. Instead of recognizing clear differences in opinions for what they are, Krugman sticks to his “blind Rand zombie” portrayal, and accuses Ryan of something more sinister.
True, in recent years, he has tried to downplay his Randism, calling it an “urban legend.” It’s not hard to see why: Rand’s fervent atheism — not to mention her declaration that “abortion is a moral right” — isn’t what the G.O.P. base wants to hear.
At the end of the day, this is another pathetic attempt to demonize Ryan. I suppose Krugman would prefer our nation’s youth adhere strictly to the liberal’s approved reading list – no dissenting opinions allowed. I for one, wish Ryan had read Atlas Shrugged again, before he voted for TARP, the auto bailouts, and two wars we can’t afford.