Saturday, February 17, 2007

University Journalist Wrongs Elan Journo

As part of its ongoing commitment, the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) is regularly invited to come speak on college campuses across the country. By doing so, it hopes to spread a rational philosophy that will ultimately lead to a cultural change. There are over 120 campus clubs devoted to Objectivism and this past year the ARI participated in 39 lectures with a total of over 3,000 people in attendance. And just think, this is only one way in which they spread ideas.

One such campus event was recently held by the USC Objectivist Club. They had invited Elan Journo, junior fellow of the ARI, to give a talk entitled, "Islam's Role in the Terror War on America". I of course was not there, but those in the area obviously did attend and their school paper wrote an article about the event. After reading the article and from my past exposure to Mr. Journo's writing I can tell that his talk had strong similarities to his recent paper (subscription required) at The Objective Standard, "The Jihad on America". The summary of which states, the paper:

Elucidates the fundamental ideas behind, and the principal sponsors of, the Islamic assault on America by reference to the words and deeds of its adherents and supporters—words and deeds that westerners in general and Americans in particular must understand if we are to eliminate this anti-life movement before it eliminates more of us.
From the school article, it is evident the author is sympathetic to Islam or a Muslim herself. The fact that she bleeps out the word Allah as if it were blasphemous and when making reference to Muhammad offers blessings upon him illustrates this fact. This is revealing in light of her comments on Journo's speech.

Journo makes the point that it is obscene to call this a "War on Terror" because it evades the whole basis of the war. What one must first realize is the fundamental cause for the conflict and then identify its source. In the war we are faced with today, religion, and more specifically, faith is the fundamental cause. Faith being defined as the acceptance of an idea with no relation to or even in direct contradiction to the facts of reality. Therefore when no rational discourse is possible between two competing ideas the end result will be through the use of force. It is Islam's reliance on faith that drives Muslims to perpetrate these attacks.

From this, there are those who wish to impose Islam onto others via Islamic Totalitarianism. It is this moral ideal that Journo was talking about when he said that we must obliterate it. Those who wish to use force against us. He also pointed out the greatest supporters of this ideology, Iran and Syria. If these two were held accountable and brought to justice, it could be argued that this war would end rather quickly. Just as we destroyed Germany and Japan as the sources of collectivist ideology, so too Iran and Syria.

In short the article's author, Natasha Khan, fails to see the link between the terrorist's motivation (ideology) and their use of force. She merely hears, "Islam is to blame. The terrorists were Muslim. Therefore we need to kill all Muslims." Instead of making the connection that it is from a proper basis of self-defense that we should retaliate. It is not Islam as such that our government should fight but rather Islamic Totalitarianism. This is how she comes to grossly misrepresent Mr. Journo's views by stating that he advocates a second Holocaust.

Khan later goes on to try and dismiss Journo's credibility on the topic when he says that he's not an Islamic scholar, "That seems strange when much of the lecture was spent in telling the audience about Islam." However, I would argue that a complete study of Islam and its history are not necessary. All that is needed is to understand its fundamental characteristic, which is common to all religions, faith. All the other stuff helps to clarify but to a lesser extent. When questioned about military actions he responded by stating that he wasn't a specialist to which Khan replies, "that appears strange when battle plans formed the crux of this [sic] Journo's solution." This is just blatantly false. Journo's speech did make mention of action against Iran and Syria but his purpose was not to present a military plan of attack. It was to identify the root cause of the current war and the ideology supporting it.

I can only conclude that this article is a deliberate smear of Mr. Journo and his ideas stemming from an inability to understand his thesis. The Daily Trojan should be ashamed to have published this trash but from my reading of the USC Objectivist Club's past experience with them it seems to be common practice. Eck!


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Books, Books, and More

Lately I've been amassing a collection of books here at school. It appears to have the effect of a double-edged sword. The moment I get them I want to look through them and start reading them. This of course takes away any time I have that could be put towards my studies. It's very frustrating in that sense, but I really just like reading my books. College textbooks are too dry.

Since I have such a strong interest in Objectivism, I want to read up on it as much as I can and the primary source for current scholarly work on Objectivism has to be the Ayn Rand Bookstore. Whenever they come out with their annual catalog I peruse through it looking for lectures or books that pique my interest. So as you might guess, by this time I have a fairly long wish list going (I'll accept any size amount of gift donations that you may wish to give me). Over the summer I was able to save up a fair amount of money and was able to get some really good stuff from the ARB. Let me list them:

  • The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics by James Valliant
  • The Romantic Manifesto by Ayn Rand
  • Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist by Tara Smith
  • The Objectivist Forum Edited by Harry Binswanger
  • Religion vs. Man by John Ridpath (CD)
  • Selected Topics in the Philosophy of Science by Harry Binswanger (Audio)
  • The Philosophic Corruption of Physics by David Harriman (Audio)
  • The History of America-Complete Series by Eric Daniels (CD)
  • The Foreign Policy and Terrorism Collection (DVD)
Of course that's not all the books I got recently. From separate sources I bought:
  • The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism from A to Z Edited by Harry Binswanger
  • Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life by Michael Paxton (DVD)
  • The Abolition of Antitrust Edited by Gary Hull
  • A Brief History of Science by A. Rupert Hall & Marie Boas Hall
  • Aristotle by John Herman Randall, Jr.
  • The Aristotle Adventure by Burgess Laughlin
  • Essays on Ayn Rand's Anthem Edited by Robert Mayhew
  • Essays on Ayn Rand's We the Living Edited by Robert Mayhew
  • Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead Edited by Robert Mayhew
Also too add to these lists are books I've recently checked out from the library and might buy later:
  • John Adams & the Spirit of Liberty by C. Bradley Thompson
  • Ayn Rand and "Song of Russia": Communism and Anti-Communism in 1940s Hollywood by Robert Mayhew
  • Viable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality by Tara Smith
I'm beginning to see this post has become just one long list. I'll have to clarify which one's I've read and which one's I haven't later. I can say that I'm currently reading Mayhew's Essays on Ayn Rand's Anthem. So far I've really enjoyed the essays by Tore Boeckmann, "Anthem as a Psychological Fantasy", and John Lewis, "'Sacrilege toward the Individual': The Anti-Pride of Thomas More's Utopia and Anthem's Radical Alternative". And just today I received Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. I was able to read one essay by Andrew Bernstein, "Understanding the "Rape" Scene in The Fountainhead". I'm really glad they decided to discuss this about The Fountainhead since it is easily one of the most misunderstood aspects in the novel. Dr. Bernstein did an excellent job putting in clear terms what Dominique's motivation was and her reasons for such "an engraved invitation". I can't wait to read the rest of the essays.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

There's a First Time for Everything

So as you can see I decided to join the blogosphere by creating my own blog. It's not much right now but I hope to change that, as I will be continually updating its appearance.

After a couple of days, I finally came up with the name of "Abandon Caution". I attempted to integrate subjects that interest me, things I plan on blogging about, and that personal touch (as if the others weren't personal too). Yes my last name is Caution (I've been told it's of Scottish origins). So for the first time in my life, I've decided to cash-in on the word. More often than not my blog will be devoted to philosophy, specifically Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. I am no expert on the subject simply a student. Taking the idea of moral evaluations being either black or white, I've applied them to the idea of a stop light where yellow is known to be "yield". This concept of caution applied to the field of ethics, and more broadly philosophy in general, could be thought of as "grayness". This theme is the idea I encourage those who read my blog to abandon. Instead I hope to show that an objective basis for evaluation is necessary.