An Unexpected Dose of Hate Speech

Recommended Posts

An Unexpected Dose of Hate Speech

I normally don't pay too much attention to hate speech about Ayn Rand these days. I have stopped caring about "defending her honor" and all that other crap.

Why? By studying persuasion, I discovered how I let myself get involved in it in the first place. I have learned that it has nothing to do with the substance of Rand's ideas nor those of her opponents.

But sometimes I run across a doozie that I just can't ignore. And this leads me to a really odd article about Rand on Counterpunch.

There is a dude who is trying to compare Ayn Rand to Osama bin Laden. Here's the article.

Ayn Rand and Al Qaeda - Two Voices, One Terrorism

by Evan Knappenberg

September 13, 2012


Here are a few select quotes. They are so boneheaded, I was going to let them speak for themselves since they do not require much analysis for rebuttal. But I can't resist the temptation of having some fun.

I'll do this for a little, but my main point is not to rebut a bonehead. (I've had my fill of that with James Valliant.) It is to make a broader point on character, which I'll do after I've had my jollies.

As an embarrassed former advocate of “Objectivism” (the hate rhetoric disguised as philosophy by the late Ayn Rand) and as a former US army intelligence analyst, I was struck by an almost unconscious image of the firebrand Russian Capitalist author that has been growing in the back of my mind for quite some time.

. . .

Rand’s rhetoric is little more than hate speech targeting environmentalists, union workers, immigrants, the poor, churches, government employees, newspaper publishers, modern artists and 18th-century philosophers. Her vitriol ran the gamut of Christians, socialists, Platonists, anti-abortion protestors, prose poets, NGO workers… the list continues.

If any of this type of agonizing fundamentalism is starting to sound familiar, now I would like to direct your attention to another monomaniacal millionaire who fantasized about killing US soldiers. The man I am thinking of had the stated mission of bringing the world to its knees using both terrorist physical violence as well as crippling economic violence. That’s right, Osama Bin Laden.

If comparing Ayn Rand to Osama Bin Laden sounds extreme, you don’t know Ayn Rand sufficiently.

All I can say to this is ask a question. Was this guy at one time really a "US army intelligence analyst"?


If so, and if his kind of thinking (connecting dots on surface issues while ignoring fundamental ones) is representative of what the army employs for analyzing intelligence, it's no wonder we thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and it took so darn long to locate Osama bin Laden.

Rand's writing is "little more than hate speech"?


At least we know what Knappenberg is focused on. It's hatred. It blinds him to all else--even Rand's huge volume of words that do not express or deal with hatred. What's more, that over-the-top focus on hatred comes from him, not her. (More about this at the end.)

I have yet to meet (face-to-face at least) a “Rand-roid” who seemed capable of any type of physical violence.


Knappenberg even mentions Yaron Brook, who used to be a First Sergeant in the Israeli Army.

How about all those “Rand-roids” in the armed services? In martial arts? Gun users?

How about OL's own dear darling Brant, fer Krissakes, when he was younger? (By that, I mean he was more of a Randroid when he was younger, not that he was capable of violence only when he was younger. Frankly, I would not want to be on the business end of a fight with Brant.)

I know rape is not the kind of violence Knappenberg means, but how about Lonnie Leonard? (See Therapist by Ellen Plasil for the full story.)

I could go on and on.

On the really dark side, I used to read true crime books all the time. In more than one, the killer was deep into Rand.

(I have since looked for these books, which I read when I lived in Brazil, but I no longer remember the titles. I do remember the profile of one killer in particular. He was in his thirties--if I remember correctly. He used a goatee in the pictures of him in the book and was quite muscular. He owned a gym and popular bar in California somewhere. He killed his new, pretty and trusting wife with a shot to her head while she was parked in a car waiting for him. He did it for some advantage or other. I think it had to do with insurance. And the book author kept going on and on about how persuasive the killer was--so much so that he almost fell under the killer's spell during the trial.)

At any rate, Knappenberg is losing a huge opportunity by his prejudice. If he wants to show how evil Rand is, he should look this violence stuff up and spin it instead of pulling a boneheaded opinion out of where the sun doesn't shine based on a stereotype floating around somewhere in the back of his foggy mind.

Rand herself, however, is in another entire category: morally- and legally- dangerous.

In her 1100-page shelf-busting Atlas Shrugged (1957), as well as in her 900-page doorstopper The Fountainhead (1943), Rand commits a series of federal crimes.

Here is one of the real problems with this article--and it's weird, like really really really really really weird to see this position in an article at a place like Counterpunch.

Knappenberg takes Rand to task over and over for not obeying the government. He implies that obeying the government is the correct and moral way of being and Rand is a terrorist for opposing the government.

If that's what you believe... OK. But to preach this on a site devoted to anarcho-capitalism?


This dude later rants against Obama, the Patriot Act and so on, but look at the foundation of his criticism of Rand. Talk about shooting yourself in the eye!

(I know, I know... You're thinking the correct phrase is shooting yourself in the foot. But I really did mean eye. There is a standard cartoon gag where a character can't get a shotgun to go off, so he turns it around, looks down the barrel to find the obstruction, and shoots himself in the eye. :smile: )

OK, I've had enough fun. Read the article, but keep a barf-bag beside you if you don't have a quirky sense of humor like I do.

Now on to the character part.

The Character Part

I believe Objectivism often gets a bad rap because people with poor character use it to reinforce their poor character. People do this, also, with any big idea body of work, especially the different religions. Ditto for secular philosophies like communism and some of the different philosophies of science.

Here's a good example from O-Land discussion groups: Lindsay Perigo. This guy used to be a bullying communist activist and guru wannabee. Once he converted to Objectivism, he became a bullying Objectivist activist and guru wannabee. The bullying activist and guru wannabee part stayed the same. The ideology changed.

In order to change his character, he would have to choose to change it. Not just change the body of ideas. Objectivism did not make him a better person. He is the same as when he was a communist.

The whole mindset of this kind of person is to blame someone else or something else for his problems that arise from having poor character. And Knappenberg is no exception to this pattern.

Note that he wrote a hate speech article condemning what he calls Ayn Rand's hate speech. He has a scapegoat in Rand and he goes after her with all the gusto he claims she employs on her own scapegoats. He distorts, ignores, makes factually wrong statements, holds up hate works like Jeff Walker's The Ayn Rand Cult as proof, and so on.

Wanna see a factually wrong statement?

... is Rand’s ideological embrace of violence any better in than the ideology of the self-aggrandizing Saudi millionaire whose obscure rantings culminated in bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, New York and Washington?

Ayn Rand did not embrace violence as ideology. It's funny this guy claims to have been a Randroid and can even make that statement. Maybe he missed the constant preaching of non-initiation of violence in her work--but I don't see how.

Well, she did preach self-defense against violence. And that could get violent. I know this dude knows that, but I don't think he's too interested in the qualification.

I have a better explanation. This guy is a hater. He cultivates hatred in his soul and he will do anything to justify that hatred--including blanking out what does not justify it and overemphasizing what does. He will blame anyone and anything for the problems that hatred has caused him in life (and still causes)--except to think about giving it up.

He used to hate lots of people and things. He used Rand to justify it, too. Don't believe me? He says so himself.

... I could also offer myself as an example of Rand’s mischief: my life has been a spotty process of embarrassing violence and rehabilitation in the aftermath of reading Rand. I personally blame Rand for my temper, which I learned to justify from an early age with the outrageous rhetoric of a “John Galt” terrorist or “Howard Roark” rapist.

What is "temper" if not an expression of hatred? Now he hates Ayn Rand. He's just as boneheaded, dishonest and unfair as before when Rand was his excuse, but his target has changed. Now it's her. Read the article for proof.

Knappenberg merely swapped his ideology to justify his vanity--as if that will give him a better character. That way he doesn't have to choose to be a better person. It's all Ayn Rand's fault.

Another weird part is he seems to think that ideology itself is the source of all evil (a position which, also, excludes the personal responsibility of choosing to have good character), but I'm just too tired to unpack the inconsistencies in that one.

I wonder who he will blame when he moves on to the next ideological stage.

Actually, I don't wonder at all.

At the start, Knappenberg said there is "an almost unconscious image of the firebrand Russian Capitalist author that has been growing in the back of my mind for quite some time." I suggest that image is the mask he uses to shield his own spiteful soul to himself--and that mask looks an awful lot like his true self, which is why it fits.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Evan Knappenberger is an Iraq war veteran, former teenaged “objectivist,” and philosophy and theology student at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

'Theology student at a Mennonite University' -

Maybe he recently converted, and that's why a confirmed atheist like Ayn Rand has now become the "enemy"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I hope so.

The good part of religion--including Mennonite--teaches about the virtue of encouraging love within yourself.

Judging from the article, this dude sure needs some of that.

I don't wish him ill. I truly hope some kind of love seeps underneath that mask of his and he discovers that you cannot fight hatred with hatred without producing more hatred.

You cannot be spiteful as a primary focus without spoiling the goodness around you. Hatred is a poison like belladonna. It is beneficial in very small doses, but if you take too much, it hurts you.

For natural-born haters, reason and all the rest can be understood in greater clarity after an attitude change toward positive values. Encouraging love within yourself as a habit is a great tool for getting this result. That's the good I see in religions teaching love.

So this dude is probably in a good place among the Mennonites for the character he shows the world.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems this guy is claiming he engaged in criminal behavior when younger for which he blames Ayn Rand. But it's not clear, because if it was when he was in the military it was probably criminal--if at all--in the moral sense only.

This Ayn-Rand-made-me-do-it crap can only mean he has a built in excuse for more of Ayn-Rand-made-me-do-it. Like most violent criminals or would-be criminals he is claiming victimhood. Victims, real or imagined, can easily suffuse their personalities with anger--rage--and violently strike out. Look at all the stuff he is projecting on Ayn Rand and Objectivism. And whenever he can latch onto a fact, truth or theory about, say, ARI and its minions or anyone or anything with any Objectivist association, it really stokes his fire.

Someone to stay away from--far away. If 100 someones like this were to latch onto me because of what I post on OL and one decided to really come and get me, I am easily found. Just one more reason to own a tactical 12 guage shotgun loaded with #4 buckshot. This possibility is laughingly low. It's a good bet he's alone in every respect. (If he had a girlfriend or boyfriend and was getting laid he'd mellow out some.) Another reason is in case the Ayran Nation targets me, which I take far more seriously for reasons I'm not going into. The main reason is in case of possible home invasion. This last one is both practical and generic. I've owned firearms since I came home from Vietnam, but haven't had to use any since then. I've never gotten rid of that combat soldier thing that was transplanted into my DNA in the 1960s. My brain is a natural for security-type work, not wealth creation.


I left the last paragraph on--I've deleted whole-like posts that were only up briefly or which I wrote but didn't post telling various war stories, for they seemed gratuitous or self-agrandizing. The reason is it is obvious to me that most people who read OL really don't relate on the gut level to this type of stuff. It's unreal to them and to my neighbors. Once two years ago I packed my .357 on my hip when walking my dog as an experiment and I was lucky someone didn't call 911, even though it was perfectly legal. I've been more discreet since. What I'm saying is don't put yourself into situations that ripen you up for being a crime victim, for a criminal may come a-plucking. Women tend to be more vulnerable than men for most of these criminals are men, who tend to be bigger and stronger, hence the basic tribal grouping which is the family protected by males and why we have gigantic nation-states butting up against each other in balance of power relationships.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I never tire of pointing-out, these scorched-earth-type attacks on Rand have been going on since the Whittaker Chambers smear in National Review in 1957. It has not let up. Ever since Obama became president, and there was a corresponding increase in interest in Atlas Shrugged, the attacks have increased, becoming even more extreme and hysterical. Some of them, like the Counterpunch piece, are so exreme that I wonder if anyone (with any kind of critical, rational thinking), reading it would not recognize it for what it is.

What the Left does not seem to get, is that after 55 years of increasingly hostile attacks meant to destroy interest in Atlas Shrugged, the opposite effect has happened. The more hostile the attacks, the more interest is created in readers to actually go out and read the book. Can it really be that bad? Does she really advocate that?

Any article that goes to the extreme distortions that this article does, is not worth replying to, at least in trying to refute it point-by-point. They are their own worst enemy. On the basis of the last 55 years, let the novel speak for itself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hatred is a poison like belladonna. It is beneficial in very small doses, but if you take too much, it hurts you.

One of the many damaging things about hatred is that it actually ties the individual very strongly to the object of the hatred. That's why people who hate cannot free their mind and soul from that which is the focus of their hatred.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hatred is a poison like belladonna. It is beneficial in very small doses, but if you take too much, it hurts you.

One of the many damaging things about hatred is that it actually ties the individual very strongly to the object of the hatred. That's why people who hate cannot free their mind and soul from that which is the focus of their hatred.

Agreed Angela:

"Those who hate you don't win unless you hate them; and then you destroy yourself.." Richard M. Nixon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now