Chris Grieb

ARI Watch

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I do not pretend anything at all, especially to a person who twists himself into a rhetorical pretzel to avoid owning up to not doing his homework, presuming an erroneous fact and presenting it as fact (like the fairy-tale about ARI's funding).

I sometimes get uncomfortable with ARI's overly-biased approach toward Israel and the Islamic community in general, which I can only call bigoted on some of those occasions, but aiding Israel is not an act of treason. This is like saying that aiding the USA is an act of treason because you disagree with the war in Iraq or the policy of extraordinary rendition. The governments of both countries have done (and do) things I condemn. One can criticize a policy and even fight it without the kind of bigoted rhetoric presented at ARI Watch, which rests on the premise that two wrongs make a right.

And crying "tar-baby" and crap like that as justification for saying "Yes I am antisemitic," is nothing but more hate-speech. Sorry, I ain't buying it. Try doing that with blacks or Orientals. There are plenty of individuals among those groups who do wrong and plenty of countries to bash. Try saying, "Tarbaby. Foul play. So yes I hate niggers (or chinks)." See how far that goes. This crap is collectivist rhetoric and it is a bill of goods used to bash Jews dressed up to look like some kind of payback.

As OL readers know, I use the same standard of reason when discussing Muslims or any other group. Words mean things. Hell, I use the same precise reasoning when discussing ARI, which is an organization that carries out policies I criticize harshly.

Ayn Rand stated her views about Israel clearly. They are on record. She was not stupid or isolated from the "real truth." She certainly did not need some kind of ARI Watch to inform her of what she really thought. To write otherwise, as in the article Ayn Rand on Israel, is about as false a premise as I can imagine.

Michael

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I’m not going to play that game. If ARI Watch be anti-semitic, make the most of it. I don’t confess to being an anti-semite, I proclaim it.

Then give back your polio shots and give up your GPS device.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Reply to Michael’s post:

In the essay “Ayn Rand on Israel” I acknowledge that Ayn Rand supported Israel, and I quote a – or rather the – published statement of hers to that effect. In sum I say three things:

1. Supporting Israel was not as important to Ayn Rand as it is to ARI. The evidence, I think, is conclusive.

In all her written work – seven books of essays, not to mention her fiction – there is but one, count ’em, one, reference to Israel. You can throw in her published letters and journals too – there is nothing more. This is a large body of work yet only one reference to Israel, and then in the later Leonard Peikoff days.

Now consider ARI. Do a Google search of their site for Israel and you get well over two hundred references ( http://www.aynrand.org/site/Search?query=israel ). Or just look at the indexes of ARI’s op-ed and press release archives. Though lately ARI has been quiet about Israel, go back a while and it looks like Commentary magazine. There are entire articles devoted to Israel. Ayn Rand’s one reference is a paragraph in a long essay about Vietnam, with Taiwan thrown in with Israel.

One reference versus a cataract.

2. I acknowledge that when Ayn Rand was asked about Israel she answered that she supported Israel. I offer an apologia, because it’s needed. I also say that she is not entirely innocent here, or in her one written reference.

3. I suggest that her opinion might well be different today, given further crimes by Israel and more readily available reporting and commentary. This, of course, is impossible to prove literally. It’s a way of saying that support for Israel, knowing the facts, is inconsistent with her philosophy.

Michael turns 1-2-3 into: ARI Watch informs Ayn Rand of what she really thought. Not exactly the result of careful reading.

In case my essay isn’t clear – and I think it’s clear enough: Ayn Rand was mistaken about Israel. Perversely mistaken, for Israel contradicts her philosophy in spades, not least of which is its historical sympathy with Soviet Russia. The only excuse for her I can think of is ignorance, and it’s not a heartening excuse.

This post to OL does not replace the essay. I worked on the essay to get the right tone. The purpose of ARI Watch is not to criticize Ayn Rand.

Mike Renzulli said some nice things about ARI Watch (thanks Mike) and one of them was that it “let the chips fall where they may.” The chips don’t fall where I’d like on the subject of Israel and that disappointment is obvious in the essay. But the chips don’t fall where ARI would like either, and ARI’s view of Israel (see “The Moral Case for Supporting Israel”) is a distortion of Ayn Rand’s, even granting her ignorance.

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Reply to Michael, continued:

The Tar-Baby reference is apt. For readers unfamiliar with American culture, a Tar-Baby is something which superficially might seem worth fighting but by its nature you can’t win against, you only get entangled deeper and deeper. It’s a trap. The word comes from one aspect of a story in the Uncle Remus series by Joel Chandler Harris:

Br’er Fox has it in for Br’er Rabbit, who always gets the better of him. Br’er Fox constructs a statue out of tar and turpentine he calls a Tar-Baby and places it by the roadside, then hides and waits. Br’er Rabbit comes along – a type A personality judging from previous stories – and, thinking the Tar-Baby a living creature, says hello. The Tar-Baby stands mute and Br’er Rabbit feels insulted at its lack of response. He becomes all worked up about this and finally starts hitting the Tar-Baby and gets his forepaws stuck in it. Then he kicks the Tar-Baby and gets his hindpaws stuck. Br’er Fox jumps out of hiding and gloats at finally catching Br’er Rabbit. (But Br’er Rabbit outwits him, yet again – described in the next story in the series.)

Can you imagine Br’er Fox’s reaction if Br’er Rabbit, instead of getting mad at the Tar-Baby, had ignored its churlish taciturnity, delivered a cheerful soliloquy, and walked on?

It really annoys the Israel worshippers.

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I've refrained from commenting about Israel on this board, because the light to heat ratio in discussions of Israel is rarely favorable. I'm neither a Zionist nor a left-libertarian, so anything I say will invariably displease at least one loud constituency.

But Mark's piece on "Ayn Rand and Israel" is so far over the top that I can't avoid responding to it.

Drawing an analogy with Rand's condemnation of the Vietnam War as a war that in no way served the "national self-interest" of the United States, Mark has said

Today one could say exactly the same about the Iraq War, which was really Israel’s war.

Now someone who knows the inner workings of the Israeli government may have to correct me. But my impression is that as of March 2003, when Gulf War II began, those in power in Israel generally considered the ruling council of Ayatollahs to be a more dangerous adversary than Saddam Hussein.

I do know that Leonard Peikoff has been clamoring for years for war with Iran, and that he took out a full-page ad in the New York Times right after 9-11, demanding that the entire country be nuked forthwith.

What's more, the Leonard Peikoff Institute's spokespeople have consistently treated the war in Iraq as a dangerous distraction from the war they really want to see.

What am I missing here?

Robert Campbell

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I've refrained from commenting about Israel on this board, because the light to heat ratio in discussions of Israel is rarely favorable. I'm neither a Zionist nor a left-libertarian, so anything I say will invariably displease at least one loud constituency.

But Mark's piece on "Ayn Rand and Israel" is so far over the top that I can't avoid responding to it.

Drawing an analogy with Rand's condemnation of the Vietnam War as a war that in no way served the "national self-interest" of the United States, Mark has said

Today one could say exactly the same about the Iraq War, which was really Israel’s war.

Now someone who knows the inner workings of the Israeli government may have to correct me. But my impression is that as of March 2003, when Gulf War II began, those in power in Israel generally considered the ruling council of Ayatollahs to be a more dangerous adversary than Saddam Hussein.

I do know that the Leonard Peikoff has been clamoring for years for war with Iran, and that he took out a full-page ad in the New York Times right after 9-11, demanding that the entire country be nuked forthwith.

What's more, the Leonard Peikoff Institute's spokespeople have consistently treated the war in Iraq as a dangerous distraction from the war they really want to see.

What am I missing here?

Robert Campbell

If Leonard Peikoff were President he would be insane. Since he's not he's only nuts. Ayn Rand was aware of many of her limits. Can't say the same for him.

--Brant

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Brant;

If Leonard Peikoff were president the country wouldn't be in great shape either.

Robert; Your points are very good about ARI's view of the Iraq war.

I must finally add that I believe that Iran declared war when they took our embassy personal hostage in 1979. I don't think that war is over.

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Robert Campbell,

You quote the following sentence because of the aside at the end:

“Today one could say exactly the same about the Iraq War, which was really Israel’s war.”

and reply:

“... my impression is that as of March 2003, when Gulf War II [a.k.a. the Iraq War] began, those in power in Israel generally considered the ruling council of Ayatollahs to be a more dangerous adversary than Saddam Hussein.”

Maybe so, but wouldn’t the relevant date be before the start of the Iraq War? Once the invasion started there was little point in urging it.

In 2002 and early 2003 the Israeli government did urge the U.S. to invade Iraq, as did Israel’s amen corner in the U.S. (for example the neoconservatives and ARI) – often coated with a flaking layer of American self-interest. This is not controversial. Here are a few news articles:

Sharon Government Urges Prompt Action Against Saddam

CBS News; August 16, 2002.

Attack Iraq soon, Sharon aide says

(dead link)

NY Daily News; August 16, 2002.

The United States should attack Iraq soon to stop dictator Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear weapons, Israeli officials said yesterday. “Postponing the action to a later date would only enable Saddam to accelerate his weapons program, and then he would pose a more formidable threat,” said Ranaan Gissin, a top adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

USA Today; November 3, 2002.

Israel is secretly playing a key role in U.S. preparations for possible war with Iraq, helping to train soldiers and Marines for urban warfare, conducting clandestine surveillance missions in the western Iraqi desert and allowing the United States to place combat supplies in Israel, according to U.S. Defense and intelligence officials.

IAP News; January 18, 2003.

A former Israeli ambassador to Washington who is now advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has urged the Israeli government to step up pressure on the Bush Administration to accelerate the war on Iraq.

New York Times; February 27, 2003.

... With Oslo in tatters, the Israelis are now putting similar hopes in an American war on Iraq. ... many in Israel are so certain of the rightness of a war on Iraq that officials are already thinking past that conflict to urge a continued, assertive American role in the Middle East. ... Israel regards Iran and Syria as greater threats and is hoping that once Saddam Hussein is dispensed with, the dominoes will start to tumble.

... a report prepared [in 1996] by The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies’ “Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000.”

... Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.

And here’s some commentary:

by Jim Lobe; August 7, 2003.

An ad hoc office under U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy[,] Douglas Feith[,] appears to have acted as the key base for an informal network of mostly neo-conservative political appointees that circumvented normal inter-agency channels to lead the push for war against Iraq.

Though Iraq was no danger to the U.S., Israel thought it was a danger to Israel. Israel and its worshippers in the U.S. wanted, and helped get, the U.S. to invade Iraq.

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Now someone who knows the inner workings of the Israeli government may have to correct me. But my impression is that as of March 2003, when Gulf War II began, those in power in Israel generally considered the ruling council of Ayatollahs to be a more dangerous adversary than Saddam Hussein.

Robert,

The funny part is the 500 pound gorilla sitting in the living room that nobody notices. Maliki and practically the entire rebel Iraq government was holed up in Tehran before the war with Iraq. This is the same group of gentlemen who took over after Saddam Hussein was toppled.

The real secret is that this was an Israeli conspiracy backed by ARI.

Michael

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I can see your point, Chris. However, my reading of history is that Iran's radicalization came about after the U.S. had deposed their elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and installed the Shah of Iran. As a result of his iron-fisted rule ala the secret police force SAVAK which were trained by the C.I.A., this enabled the radical mullahs in the country to come to power.

The hatred of the west was seething and was finally able to come about when the Shah's power and health came to diminish during the 1970s.

Don't get me wrong, the taking of the hostages and our embassy was wrong and could be considered hostile but, in my view, was a reaction to the U.S. government's actions in the 1950s. The C.I.A. term Blowback comes to mind.

Brant;

If Leonard Peikoff were president the country wouldn't be in great shape either.

Robert; Your points are very good about ARI's view of the Iraq war.

I must finally add that I believe that Iran declared war when they took our embassy personal hostage in 1979. I don't think that war is over.

Edited by Mike Renzulli

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Mike;

I have heard the argument you make.

I don't agree with it!.

I suspect if the US had had a President with a ball the hostage affair would have been over a lot sooner.

I don't think one wrong act makes an another criminal act right.

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However, my reading of history is that Iran's radicalization came about after the U.S. had deposed their elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and installed the Shah of Iran. As a result of his iron-fisted rule ala the secret police force SAVAK which were trained by the C.I.A., this enabled the radical mullahs in the country to come to power.

Mike,

I just wrote about this yesterday and my previous post seems pertinent here.

Perhaps because many Iranians still remember how the US government overthrew their democratically elected president many years earlier and imposed the brutal dictatorship of the Shah on their country, complete with KGB style secret police and torture chambers.

Martin,

This is one of the excesses of rhetoric that characterizes this kind of debate and, unfortunately, it clouds the message to those who would be sympathetic. I agree in full with you about the monkeyshines and pure incompetence of the USA government in its Middle Ease policies (remember in the Afghanistan war that hardly anybody on our side even spoke Farsi, although that was the language of Iran?), but it did not overthrow anybody in Iran. It backed Iranians who did the overthrowing (and they had to speak in English to get that backing). There was the element of local politics that would have existed with or without the USA.

I know this scenario well from having seen it up close in Brazil. (The USA government supported the military dictatorship of the 60's and 70's there.) The USA keeps a distance in a dictator's local politics despite some covert operations and funding, but USA businesses come in full force in providing infrastructure works to his government. The aura of the American presence—the public image fostered—in such a country is geared toward competitive business, but in reality this is merely the old boy club. The only direct military part is in providing training to the secret police of the dictators, selling ordnance to the government, and maybe getting permission to set up a military base for strictly USA interests.

The amount of hard feelings this creates in a foreign society is hard to communicate to people here. A mother whose son has been killed by the secret police is told by the American representatives in her country, "We had nothing to do with that." Yet she looks and sees that the soldiers of the dictator's secret police were trained by the agents of the Americans talking. She sees the dictator filling his coffers with money coming from those Americans while she sees none of it. Her taxes constantly go up to help pay for the new infrastructure projects and many are abandoned within a year or two after the PR splash.

I can't think of a better recipe for instilling hatred for Americans.

USA business has no business doing business with foreign dictators. And the USA government has no business doing business in the first place.

Michael

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If Leonard Peikoff were President he would be insane. Since he's not he's only nuts. Ayn Rand was aware of many of her limits. Can't say the same for him.

--Brant

I'm curious - can you give some examples of when Rand acknowledged "many of her limits?" I can recall reading of her comments about not caring for the field of psychology. What else?

Alfonso

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If Leonard Peikoff were President he would be insane. Since he's not he's only nuts. Ayn Rand was aware of many of her limits. Can't say the same for him.

--Brant

I'm curious - can you give some examples of when Rand acknowledged "many of her limits?" I can recall reading of her comments about not caring for the field of psychology. What else?

Alfonso

She didn't care to analyze love or to further contemplate the culture.

--Brant

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Apparently, this was today. Did anyone see it?

Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, is

scheduled to be interviewed about CEO pay today, Nov. 2, 2007, by Neil

Cavuto on Fox Business Network's new show "Cavuto"

at 6 pm Eastern (3 pm Pacific). This show is on the new Fox Business

Network (FBN or Fox Business), not the long-running Fox News Channel

(FNC). Fox is still negotiating to have FBN carried by some cable

companies. So it is possible that your local cable company may not yet

carry this new channel. Please check your local listings.

Dr. Brook will now be interviewed every week on Wednesdays on the new

Fox Business Network's as-yet-untitled afternoon news show. This is a

three-hour show from 2 to 5 pm Eastern time, and Dr. Brook willl

usually be on during the second hour, 3 to 4 pm Eastern (12 noon to 1

pm Pacific) but, at the producer's discretion, he could appear at any

other time in this 3-hour period. When we have his exact appearance

time we will let you know it. This coming Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007, Dr.

Brook will be travelling and Dr. Onkar Ghate, senior fellow at the Ayn

Rand Institute, will fill in for Dr. Brook on the Fox Business Network

news show. The exact time and topic have not yet been determined.

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Your post is pertinent and very well articulated. However, I tend to disagree in terms of your assessment of Iran. You are right local politics would have existed with or without the USA. However, the evidence speaks for itself in terms of what happened in Iran with Mossadegh and was the shot heard round the middle east, if not the world, that the US had become an empire.

The operation the CIA carried out for this was called Operation Ajax and what happened is all detailed in a book still in print written by Stephen Kinzer called All the Shah's Men. It goes into the events that lead to the Shah's installation in Iran. According to Kinzer's book, the only sources in Iran used to help stage the coup were radio stations and newspapers whom the CIA bought off to churn out propaganda to favoring the Shah that were written by CIA desk officers. The main player in this was someone named Kermit Roosevelt who was related to Theodore (and possibly Franklin) Roosevelt. The details of Kinzer's book point squarely at CIA personnel doing this in Iran itself in which, oddly enough, this entire fiasco had the sanctioning of President Eisenhower.

I agree with your premise that the US should not be in the business of interfering in other country's affairs like backing dictators as was seen in Latin American countries (like Brazil, Chile and Argentinia) and it most certainly should not promote commercial interests overseas or anywhere else. However, I disagree with your assessment of the subject of the installation of the Shah since promoting and securing commercial interests in that country was exactly the U.S. government did.

It was all CIA all the time.

Mike,

I just wrote about this yesterday and my previous post seems pertinent here.

Perhaps because many Iranians still remember how the US government overthrew their democratically elected president many years earlier and imposed the brutal dictatorship of the Shah on their country, complete with KGB style secret police and torture chambers.

Martin,

This is one of the excesses of rhetoric that characterizes this kind of debate and, unfortunately, it clouds the message to those who would be sympathetic. I agree in full with you about the monkeyshines and pure incompetence of the USA government in its Middle Ease policies (remember in the Afghanistan war that hardly anybody on our side even spoke Farsi, although that was the language of Iran?), but it did not overthrow anybody in Iran. It backed Iranians who did the overthrowing (and they had to speak in English to get that backing). There was the element of local politics that would have existed with or without the USA.

I know this scenario well from having seen it up close in Brazil. (The USA government supported the military dictatorship of the 60's and 70's there.) The USA keeps a distance in a dictator's local politics despite some covert operations and funding, but USA businesses come in full force in providing infrastructure works to his government. The aura of the American presence—the public image fostered—in such a country is geared toward competitive business, but in reality this is merely the old boy club. The only direct military part is in providing training to the secret police of the dictators, selling ordnance to the government, and maybe getting permission to set up a military base for strictly USA interests.

The amount of hard feelings this creates in a foreign society is hard to communicate to people here. A mother whose son has been killed by the secret police is told by the American representatives in her country, "We had nothing to do with that." Yet she looks and sees that the soldiers of the dictator's secret police were trained by the agents of the Americans talking. She sees the dictator filling his coffers with money coming from those Americans while she sees none of it. Her taxes constantly go up to help pay for the new infrastructure projects and many are abandoned within a year or two after the PR splash.

I can't think of a better recipe for instilling hatred for Americans.

USA business has no business doing business with foreign dictators. And the USA government has no business doing business in the first place.

Michael

Edited by Mike Renzulli

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I really have little interest to see any interviews by Brook or many of the folks at ARI as I am wary of their brand of Objectivism, which is looking less and less like it is true Objectivist philosophy. Especially their supporting neo-conservative policies (like pre-emptive war) and dressing them up in Objectivist rhetoric.

Did you happen to see it? If so, what did you think of it?

Apparently, this was today. Did anyone see it?

Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, is

scheduled to be interviewed about CEO pay today, Nov. 2, 2007, by Neil

Cavuto on Fox Business Network's new show "Cavuto"

at 6 pm Eastern (3 pm Pacific). This show is on the new Fox Business

Network (FBN or Fox Business), not the long-running Fox News Channel

(FNC). Fox is still negotiating to have FBN carried by some cable

companies. So it is possible that your local cable company may not yet

carry this new channel. Please check your local listings.

Dr. Brook will now be interviewed every week on Wednesdays on the new

Fox Business Network's as-yet-untitled afternoon news show. This is a

three-hour show from 2 to 5 pm Eastern time, and Dr. Brook willl

usually be on during the second hour, 3 to 4 pm Eastern (12 noon to 1

pm Pacific) but, at the producer's discretion, he could appear at any

other time in this 3-hour period. When we have his exact appearance

time we will let you know it. This coming Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007, Dr.

Brook will be travelling and Dr. Onkar Ghate, senior fellow at the Ayn

Rand Institute, will fill in for Dr. Brook on the Fox Business Network

news show. The exact time and topic have not yet been determined.

Edited by Mike Renzulli

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However, my reading of history is that Iran's radicalization came about after the U.S. had deposed their elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and installed the Shah of Iran. As a result of his iron-fisted rule ala the secret police force SAVAK which were trained by the C.I.A., this enabled the radical mullahs in the country to come to power.

Mike,

I just wrote about this yesterday and my previous post seems pertinent here.

Perhaps because many Iranians still remember how the US government overthrew their democratically elected president many years earlier and imposed the brutal dictatorship of the Shah on their country, complete with KGB style secret police and torture chambers.

Martin,

This is one of the excesses of rhetoric that characterizes this kind of debate and, unfortunately, it clouds the message to those who would be sympathetic. I agree in full with you about the monkeyshines and pure incompetence of the USA government in its Middle Ease policies (remember in the Afghanistan war that hardly anybody on our side even spoke Farsi, although that was the language of Iran?), but it did not overthrow anybody in Iran. It backed Iranians who did the overthrowing (and they had to speak in English to get that backing). There was the element of local politics that would have existed with or without the USA.

I know this scenario well from having seen it up close in Brazil. (The USA government supported the military dictatorship of the 60's and 70's there.) The USA keeps a distance in a dictator's local politics despite some covert operations and funding, but USA businesses come in full force in providing infrastructure works to his government. The aura of the American presence—the public image fostered—in such a country is geared toward competitive business, but in reality this is merely the old boy club. The only direct military part is in providing training to the secret police of the dictators, selling ordnance to the government, and maybe getting permission to set up a military base for strictly USA interests.

The amount of hard feelings this creates in a foreign society is hard to communicate to people here. A mother whose son has been killed by the secret police is told by the American representatives in her country, "We had nothing to do with that." Yet she looks and sees that the soldiers of the dictator's secret police were trained by the agents of the Americans talking. She sees the dictator filling his coffers with money coming from those Americans while she sees none of it. Her taxes constantly go up to help pay for the new infrastructure projects and many are abandoned within a year or two after the PR splash.

I can't think of a better recipe for instilling hatred for Americans.

USA business has no business doing business with foreign dictators. And the USA government has no business doing business in the first place.

Michael

"I can't think of a better recipe for instilling hatred for Americans."

I would suggest the Ugly American, a blockbuster book, if my memory serves me correctly it was released in 1958. It, allegedly [and in my opinion from talking to people involved in those years, you can eliminate the alledgedly], explained the failure of our "policy" in southeast Asia. I remember one testimonial story of one of our foggy bottom "diplomats" standing on the dock watching US relief supplies being unloaded right in front of his eyes and being stamped by the dock workers - "A gift from the people of Russia" in the language of the country where the ambassador did not speak the language.

If, and that is a big "if", we decided to professionalize the diplomatic service, the political appointments of incompetents would end. However, that is not happening, there is too much money being made in the beltway with it's incestuous lobbying model.

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I think ariwatch is still active. Some one using an email of their domain requested that requested that ariwatch be added to the index of my search engine. Who ever it was is either a regular member of this forum or objectivism online since i opened my search engine yesterday and those are the only sites linking to it.

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That was me. "ARI Watch" has been active all along. (This is a very old thread.)

I wonder if at this point your PHP code has spidered ARIwatch because if you search (web) for "world war" -- one example that should bring up an ARIwatch page -- you get no results.

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That was me. "ARI Watch" has been active all along. (This is a very old thread.)

I wonder if at this point your PHP code has spidered ARIwatch because if you search (web) for "world war" -- one example that should bring up an ARIwatch page -- you get no results.

This should be fixed now.

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On 10/10/2007 at 12:26 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Robert,

We agree on ARI's shortcomings and I like to think we are intelligent critics, not bashers.

I am curious as to why people demonize, i.e., distort and omit facts and make things up about a targeted scapegoat. ARI certainly does it when they get it in for someone. ARI-bashers do it, too. It's crazy because propaganda hardly convinces anyone except insiders in the age of the Internet. Those involved with a philosophy of reason should be above that.

I wonder what Angelina Jolie would say... :)

Michael

Hello Michael,

This being a reply 13 years later, I have no idea if you will read this or know of it.   I will preface by saying I was made aware of ARI Watch only recently.  I supported ARI for many years, without even thinking where their money came from other than me; I think I naively thought it was from people like me, just middle-class, but a lot of us.  At any rate, it was when I was early in my journey toward deep understanding  of Objectivist principles, and ARI offered good food for thought and learning.  I haven't donated to them in a decade or more, for my own reasons.   I don't know what was on ARI Watch in 2007; everything I have read on the site is from the last five years or so.  I was rather shocked by the revelation of their funding sources and some of the leadership's close association to immoral  men.  The vehemence with which Mr. Hunter declaims against ARI is clear, and all his views on topics raised by ARI thinkers are not necessarily mine, but his revelations have made me ponder some interesting philosophical ideas:

Is it moral to use money you know is from corrupt sources, to promulgate right ideas?

Is it moral to gain a value from a source you know has accepted corrupt money?

 

 

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9 hours ago, Dagny Taggart said:

Is it moral to use money you know is from corrupt sources, to promulgate right ideas?

I will let Michael answer, of course, but your question got me to thinking. What if your father owned a pawn shop and he didn't ask where the objects came from or worked with people who committed crimes or what if he was a mob boss . . . and he dies. You inherit all that he owned. As you are going through his house deciding what to throw out and what to keep, you come upon a large sum of cash. Would you keep it? Do you have a right to keep it?          

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18 hours ago, Dagny Taggart said:

Is it moral to use money you know is from corrupt sources, to promulgate right ideas?

Is it moral to gain a value from a source you know has accepted corrupt money?

DT,

Welcome to OL.

🙂

Before I get to your questions, a word about Mark and me. We go back and forth at times, but more recently we have mellowed toward each other (until the next flare-up 🙂 ). Right now I have been a bit hands off because Mark did a brilliant job exposing what Carl Barney was all about, especially his early Scientology activities, but I differ with Mark on his take on Scientology and its effect on ARI. This is not because I was ever part of Scientology or a sympathizer of said church. I studied it as a great example of a modern-day cult, teasing out what ideas attracted people to it, where the bait and switch points were, and so on. I have consumed much about Scientology, especially by dissenters, but some official things I found online and a few books I picked up at used books stores. 

My beefs with ARI are more along the lines that they bowdlerized practically everything they published by Ayn Rand that had not been published before and they tend to operate in an authoritarian manner. I don't like authoritarian control freaks. I really don't like them no matter who they are or in whose name they speak.

Some people call ARI a cult, but I don't agree. ARI doesn't hold a candle to Scientology in that regard.

ARI has done some good things, too, so I am not as furious at them as Mark is. However, I value Mark's scorched earth work. He's a bulldozer plowing through the structures of bullshit and smokescreens ARI found necessary to erect for some damn reason. Bulldozers are not precision instruments, so I would never rely on him for nuance, but man do bulldozers let the light in when it looks like there is no way a wall without windows can be breached. I'm a huge fan of bulldozers when they are needed.

 

Now, about your questions.

Back during the time of this thread (2007), I would have responded differently than I will now. I was new at writing back then and feeling my way around O-Land. So I would have probably gone in a Randian Hadith approach--that is, look what she did in her own life and take guidance from that. (btw - Don't mind me. I can be a smart-ass at times. 🙂 ) Then I would have mentioned her thoughts on getting an education from a government college and so forth. She basically said it's moral to go to a government college, especially if none others are available, so long as you end up promoting the right ideas. And I would have dug up a few other example I learned over the years.

Nowadays, I see the problem differently. I came to understand that all the money I own came from the hand or hands of someone else. That means relationships, no matter how distant. And that means every penny I own constitutes a relationship.

Man, did that perspective do a number on my head.

So the question about source of funding becomes, to me, how much do I want to police the relationships of other people? If I tried to isolate myself from all people who have relationships I don't approve of or find immoral, I would end up entirely alone. 🙂 

There's a scope problem, too. To go by way of example, I, like other people, have a bank account, but never at a bank that I know handles money from crime on a large scale. All banks handle money from crime (drugs, embezzlement, political corruption, and so on), whether they are even aware of it. (But banks being banks, they are always aware of it. 🙂 ) Some handle more than others. If I made them not doing this a strict condition of my own banking business with them, I would not have a bank account anywhere. Nor would I ever have one.

For the most part, I treat the morality of my own relationship with the institution I interact with as far more important than their relationships with others. That's because I don't have the time or interest to snoop around in everyone's business. (Barring a little gossip now and then... 🙂 ) And God knows, I have had my phases I am not proud of. It's possible to fall and get back up and I am a huge proponent of redemption. So I'm mostly live and let live and accept that people are not static. However, when an environment gets too sleazy, I simply move on.

(Apropos, this means it is entirely possible for me to return interacting with an institution today that I found sleazy yesterday because they cleaned up their act. But even then, I am no different than most humans. Once someone breaks my trust, it's hard for me--in my head--to get things back to the way they used to be. Fortunately, there are a lot of humans in the world, 🙂 

 

Now relating this thinking to ARI, they are in a difficult position because they were funded in a large chunk for years by a guy who did Scientology in his earlier days, but even more egregious for me, gamed the student loan business for most of his wealth. His money relationships were with middlemen who knew they were saddling students with massive loans from an institutionalized scam, but it looked like his relationships were with the students. Was it legal? Yes. Do I admire that? Hell no.

I don't channel Ayn Rand, but I don't think she would have liked this money relationship shuffles to promote her ideas. What's worse, I believe the ARI people knew this for years, too, with this level of clarity. But they liked the money more. 

On the other hand, ARI does some good, especially by getting Rand's fiction into the hands of young people. 

So how did I, personally, deal with my differences with ARI?

I made my own forum. 🙂 

I don't begrudge ARI its existence, for as flawed as it may be. But I don't consider it a good example of how Objectivism should be implemented in the world. When I need something credible, I  don't use ARI all that much. They have the Rand archive and some decent lectures (for example, I really like Shoshana Milgram's lectures on fiction, even when I don't agree with her), but for the most part, I stay away. 

Incidentally, if I were ever in a position to manage Ayn Rand's intellectual property, including the use of her name and trademark, I would never run ARI on donations. For just one idea, I would go around to the top luxury goods companies in the world and license her name to them for an "Ayn Rand collection." Luxury watches. Yachts. Perfume. High fashion. Jewelry. And so on. There are plenty of rich folks who would love this and it would bring in far more money than ARI would ever need for doing lectures and the stuff they like to do. Notice that this is a purely capitalist enterprise. And it would not infringe on Rand's image. On the contrary, it would complement it. Just look at that gorgeous and elegant signature of hers...

 

I'm not posturing when I say ARI is simply not that important to me. It's hard enough to keep up with the world in the Internet age. I don't need the headaches a relationship with them would bring. I know myself and I can get loud-mouthed at times when I don't like something. Besides, I promote ARI Watch (in my own way) and am a huge highly vocal fan of President Trump (in moral terms at that 🙂 ). So I'm probably not on their top 10 list of favorite people, either.

My advice, if the questions you asked bother you, is to accept what value you can, even from places that have corrupt sources of funding, but don't stick around if that makes you uneasy. Find other sources. And when none others can be found for something specific you want or need, go there, get the value and don't hang around. And don't worry about condemning them to warn other people off, unless you feel the calling to do so like Mark does. They will wreck their reputations all on their own.

I propose you go after your own values for your own life. You sound like a wonderful person who has a life well-worth living. So shine with your own light and stay out of the shadows of others unless you have to be there--or happen to like it (no accounting for taste...). 🙂 

Michael

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