Why Ayn Rand Opposed “Extremism”

What is “extremism”? Seems obvious, many people would say: just look at the actions of a white supremacist who shoots up a mosque or synagogue. Or a jihadist’s suicide attack. There are many other vicious acts that we commonly label as “extremism,” which one dictionary defines as “the holding of extreme political or religious views.”

But this term is nowhere near as clear as it seems.

Consider other views that are “extreme” (outermost, farthest from the center, calling for drastic steps). For example, when Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, it was an “extreme” political view to be against monarchy and for individual liberty. At the time of slavery, it was an “extreme” view to be an uncompromising advocate for abolition. And, whereas racism and Islamic totalitarianism are vicious, clearly it is morally right to be for liberty and abolition. But all of these examples — given how the term is commonly used — could be labeled “extremism.”

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Why Rand Was Right to Testify Against Hollywood Communism

In 1947, during what some call the “McCarthy Era,” Ayn Rand was asked to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on the influence of Communism in Hollywood. She appeared as a “friendly witness.”

The standard verdict on these hearings, and on Rand’s participation, is unequivocal condemnation: The hearings were an inquisition that destroyed the careers of “blacklisted” filmmakers, ruined lives, and trampled the First Amendment. And the “friendly witnesses,” such as Rand, who testified voluntarily, were guilty of abetting an anti-Communist witch hunt.

The only problem with this standard assessment is that it’s totally wrong.

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The Vice of Nationalism

Nationalism is clawing its way back. At a rally last October, Donald Trump galvanized the audience by declaring himself a proud nationalist. Europe, too, is witnessing the growing influence of political parties advocating nationalism. Even as nationalism has entered the political mainstream, it remains intellectually disreputable.

But Yoram Hazony, a political scholar, wants to redeem nationalism and rehabilitate its reputation. His book The Virtue of Nationalism is bound to resonate with a swath of intellectuals and voters, here and in Europe, who thrill when Trump and other politicians hammer on nationalist themes. Hazony presents a conception of nationalism with soft edges, one that is supposedly compatible with some measure of liberty. And therein lies part of the book’s danger. It is calm, erudite, and theory-heavy. The book attempts to provide a serious, intellectual case for embracing nationalism.

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What Would A Palestinian State Actually Look Like?

The Trump administration is poised to announce a “Deal of the Century” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hints and leaks suggest that the proposal would stop short of endorsing the goal of a sovereign Palestinian state. That prospect has pushed some into mourning.

The Trump plan, writes distinguished American diplomat William Burns, will likely be “a eulogy for the two-state solution.” The administration is about to “bury the only viable plan” for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The goal of a Palestinian state is commonly seen as an obvious good – and the fact that it has yet to be realized, a mark of shame for Israel and the United States. But, whatever the actual terms and merits of President Donald Trump’s proposal, we need to question the diplomatic article of faith that Palestinian statehood is necessary for peace.

If you care about justice and the rights of individuals – of Palestinians and Israelis – here is a crucial question seldom asked. What would such a Palestinian state actually look like?

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The Virulent Pull of Tribalism

Tribalism is resurging. One of its most obvious manifestations can be seen in politics. Today what seems to matter first and above all else is loyalty to one’s political tribe and its leaders, not the facts about an issue, not the truth on any given controversy, not the right policy to adopt — all of these are pushed to the background.

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The Rise of Hitler’s Germany, Explained

The effects of German Nazism are horrific and indelible. The overall death toll in World War II, which began eighty years ago this summer, “dwarfs the mortality figures for the Great War of 1914–18, obscene as those were,” observes historian Tony Judt. “No other conflict in recorded history killed so many people in so short a time.” By one reckoning, between September 1939 and the war’s end in 1945, an average of 27,000 people died each day as a result of the global conflict.

But what was the cause of all this carnage? Before the war, Germany was renowned for its elevated culture, famed as the land of poets and philosophers. And yet, it became the land of the secret police, concentration camps, the Holocaust.

Hitler had spelled out his vile ambition and perverse views in a book, which sold more than two hundred thousand copies between 1925 and 1932. Voters knew what the Nazi ideology stood for. And yet Hitler became chancellor of Germany and transformed the country into a totalitarian state.

What explains the rise of Hitler’s Germany?

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Trivializing the Islamist Menace

“More people die in the bathtub than from Islamist attacks.” Therefore, … what? How we understand the “terrorist threat” is critical to defining a sound policy for addressing the problem. Yet there’s something deeply, dangerously wrong in the way many of us think of the threat. That’s manifest not only in the prevailing view, but also, especially, in the outlook of some of its fiercest critics. Continue reading.

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Trump’s Dangerous, Amoral Loyalty To Saudi Arabia | The Daily Caller

The CIA has concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered the grisly murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. After a closed-door CIA briefing, GOP senators emerged convinced of the Saudi regime’s complicity, and the Senate has unanimously voted to hold Mohammad bin Salman responsible for the murder. But, despite the mounting evidence, Donald Trump has remained stalwart in his support of Saudi Arabia and Mohammad bin Salman (a “truly spectacular ally”). Why?

Read more: OPINION: Trump’s Dangerous, Amoral Loyalty To Saudi Arabia | The Daily Caller