The American Individualist

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Letter to Editors: Crush Iran Into Surrender

* I wrote and sent the following letter to the New York Sun, and a slightly different version to such prominent papers as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post , Washington Times, USA Today and Newsday.

To the Editor,
(Re: “Santorum: Time To Get Tough With Iran,” by Ira Stoll, July 21-23) Rick Santorum correctly identifies our enemy as militant Islamics whose ideological and military center is Iran, and draws relevant parallels between their war on America to fascist Germany and World War II. Thus he is dead wrong not to propose military strikes against Iran.

Since, like the Nazis, Iran is bent on America’s destruction, than we must now use whatever military force is needed to destroy Tehran’s global terror regime, just as we did with Berlin’s Third Reich. The crucial lesson such devastation would teach militant Islamics worldwide is exactly what the Nazis learned: your ideology leads to your demise.

Santorum’s solution of supporting Iranian dissidents -- especially as their oppressive theocrats inch closer to wielding nuclear weapons -- is too late. Iran has waged war against the U.S. since taking Americans hostage in 1979. Its terrorist regime then bombed our military bases in Beirut in 1983 and Saudi Arabia in 1996, and sends proxies into battle against America and her allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza today.

The more our so-called leaders evade a military policy to crush Iran into surrender, the more U.S. troops in the Middle East and potentially millions of Americans at home will perish at the hands of Iranian-backed killers.

Joseph Kellard

Monday, July 17, 2006

Insults & Free Speech

By Joseph Kellard

The New York Sun reports on July 13 that the Turkish government may jail a novelist because she supposedly “insulted Turkishness.” The government tried to prosecute this novelist, Elif Shafak, in June on the same outlandish Turkish criminal code that prohibits denigration of any aspect of Turkish culture. The charges were dropped after a prosecutor argued that “the book is a work of fiction and therefore does not represent the view of the author,” according to the Sun. But a higher court overruled this decision following complaints from a group of nationalist lawyers.

Both Shafak and her publisher speculate that the alleged “anti-Turkish” part of her novel concerns comments a character makes about the Turkish massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. In recent decades, the Turkish government has denied the massacre took place.

Meanwhile, PEN, an “artistic rights” organization, defends Shafak on the same awful grounds as the aforementioned prosecutor, that is, “Writers shouldn’t be held responsible for what their characters say and do,” a PEN director said.

Actually, a novelist who creates a fictional character is responsible for whatever that character says and does. She is responsible for her character’s views, since the character is her creation, just as Ayn Rand was responsible for creating Ellsworth Toohey. But all of this is irrelevant to the fundamental issue involved in this case. That is, like the Danish cartoonists who depicted Mohammad wearing a bomb for a turban, Shafak has the right to write whatever she wants, insults or otherwise, and whether or not they are her views. If what she writes insults others, this violates no one’s rights, but to prosecute her for this reason violates her right to free speech.

Those who ignore or evade these fundamental facts must then scramble for rationalizations, like arguing that a novelist who creates a character is not responsible for that creation. Instead of condemning the Turkish court for violating Shafak’s right to free speech, and upholding that right, PEN tries to deny that the novelist is responsible for creating an “anti-Turkish” character, in a fruitless attempt to distance her from any connection to violating an elastic, irrational standard: denigrating Turkish culture.

Like the feeble, so-called defenders of the Danish cartoonists, PEN needs a primer on why free speech is an absolute. Meanwhile, chalk up another strike against this fundamental right, at least in Turkey.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Email to President Bush on Iran

* I sent President Bush the following email as Iran heightens its war against Israel -- and by extension the United States. The emails almost certainly never get to the hands of the president, but they are read by his staff and the issues and ideas people write about most, in some form, trickle down to him. You can email the president at:

President Bush,

When are you going to finally destroy the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Iran? This is the only reason I voted for you in 2004. Post-9/11 you said you would end states that sponsor anti-American and anti-Western terrorism, Iran has for decades been the premier terrorist state, and the Iranians are openly demonstrating this fact in Iraq, Israel, Lebanon and Gaza today. So what are you waiting for? Are you waiting for Iran to get nukes and use them?

You’d better immediately drop what you should never have started -- that is, diplomatic concessions and (attempted) talks with Iran -- and get down to all-out military action against the mullahs and ayatollahs. Otherwise, you have failed completely on what your presidency is based on most: protecting the American people, including U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, from our would-be destroyers.

Joseph Kellard

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Anne of Green Gables

By Joseph Kellard
July 6, 2006

On the high praise from Lisa VanDamme, I read, enjoyed and recommend L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables.” This is VanDamme’s favorite children’s novel, about which she writes (in her essay “The Hierarchy of Knowledge” from the inaugural issue of The Objective Standard): “Anne, the main character, has a passionate, independent spirit that makes a lasting impression on children and adults alike. Her adventures are delightful to every child, and the theme of the novel, which concerns the importance of pursuing your values with passion, is one that children can understand.”

I concur and recommend this novel to anyone for them to simply contemplate a child with an exuberant enthusiasm, that is, the benevolent spirit Ayn Rand encourages her readers to cherish and foster throughout their lives.

Siblings and farmers Matthew and Marillia Cuthbert adopt Anne Shirley, a romantically imaginative, ambitious, talkative young orphan. From there the novel takes us through Anne’s various interactions and relationships with her parents, peers and fellow townspeople as she learns various lessons of life. Yet Anne provides the best lesson of all, being an exemplar of how to love life, to be endlessly curious about all it has to offer, and to have and passionately pursue values and goals.

(Plot spoilers ahead.)

From early on Anne states her goals, the highest being to wear nice clothes (esp. dresses with puffy sleeves), since the orphanage dressed her in plain, dull threads, and as she grows her goals become evermore ambitious. Near novel’s end Anne pursues a scholarship she must earn with the highest marks in English and English literature. “I’ll win that scholarship if hard work can do it,” Anne says. “Wouldn’t Matthew be proud if I got to be a B.A.? Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them -- that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”

(More plot spoilers ahead.)

“Anne of Green Gables” also has some unexpected gems, such as a proper appeal to self-interest over self-sacrifice. After Matthew dies and as Marillia fears she may go blind, Anne decides to study at home instead of going off to college on the scholarship she’s won. Marilla says: “Oh, Anne, I could get on real well if you were here, I know. But I can’t let you sacrifice yourself so for me. It would be terrible.” Anne tells the woman who adopted her and thus made possible her many opportunities for a better life: “Nonsense! There is no sacrifice. Nothing could be worse than giving up Green Gables -- nothing could hurt me more…” Here, Anne identifies a sacrifice for what it is, giving up a value for a lesser or non value, and Marillia does what a parent should do by not expecting one’s child to sacrifice for her, identifying that prospect as “terrible.”

But, again, the novel should be read for Anne’s unabashed benevolent spirit. While the book is filled with action scenes and dialogue that capture this spirit, here’s an exemplary descriptive passage as Anne contemplates the world ahead: “…Anne….looked out unheedingly across city roofs and spire to that glorious dome of sunset sky and wove her dreams of a possible future from the golden tissue of youth’s own optimism. All the Beyond was hers with its possibilities lurking rosily in the oncoming years -- each year a rose of promise to be woven into an immortal chaplet.”

I’m reminded here of “Ninety Three,” my favorite column from “The Ayn Rand Column,” in which Miss Rand writes: “When people look back at their childhood or youth, their wistfulness comes from the memory, not of what their lives had been in those years, but of what life had then promised to be. The expectation of some undefinable splendor, of the unusual, the exciting, the great, is an attribute of youth -- and the process of aging is the process of that expectation's gradual extinction.“One does not have to let it happen. But that fire dies for lack of fuel, under the gray weight of disappointments, when one discovers that the adults do not know what they are doing, nor care -- that a person one respected is an abject coward -- that a public figure one admired is a posturing mediocrity -- that a literary classic one had looked forward to reading is a minute analysis of people one would not want to look at twice, like a study in depth of a mud puddle.

“But there are exceptions.”

Yes, there are, and “Anne of Green Gables” is one of them.

* Joseph Kellard is a journalist living in New York.

Copyright © 2006 Joseph Kellard.