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Ayn Rand on a calender with Che Guevera?

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OismForever
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I saw the following auction on ebay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/2008-Atheist-Calendar-...1QQcmdZViewItem

It is a calender with Che on the cover, that features prominent atheists and Ayn Rand has her own month.

I thought the concept was offensive and emailed the seller, who informed me that she was on the calender with permission from ARI.

So, I emailed ARI. Here are my emails and their responses:

Dear Mr. ****,

Thank you for your email regarding the inclusion of Ayn Rand’s image in the Atheist Calendar, which features a known communist. Richard Ralston, who handles image rights and persmissions at ARI, explains: “for the same reason we would ‘allow’ Ayn Rand to be included in an encyclopedia with communists. If the calendar also ‘features’ a Frenchman, that would not imply that all atheists are French.”

Sincerely,

********

Archivist

AYN RAND ARCHIVES

MY REPLY

****,

I assume you are an Objectivist. I know for a fact you are familiar with Ayn Rand’s beliefs and practices. Therefore, let me ask you, do you honestly believe for one second Ms. Rand would have allowed herself to be on that calendar? I can point out several examples in her letters where she refused things much more benign.

And yes, they were both atheists. But, by allowing her to be on that calendar it seems to imply they were somehow similar. You and I both know that is not true. Their premises that caused them to be atheists couldn’t be any different.

It disappoints me when ARI, the custodian of her legacy starts to stray that far away from Miss Rand’s fundamental convictions.

I can personally guarantee you that not one person alive that knew her would say she would have given permission to have been included on that calendar.

*********

HIS REPLY

Upon what basis would anyone rationally induce that everyone included or pictured in a list of anything is equal or great, unless it is a list or "a calendar of equal and great people"?

The Estate of Ayn Rand enthusiastically approved placing Ayn Rand on a U.S. postage stamp in 1999. That did not endorse the idea that all persons on postage stamps were either equal or great. It did not even apply that their should be a government post office. As I recall, you were not available at the time to tell us whether Ayn Rand would have approved the stamp. We have supported entries on Ayn Rand in various general and specialized encyclopedias and books (on women, philosophers, etc.). That does not imply that we thought everything in them was correct or the personalities discussed were equal.

I have read all of Ayn Rand's letters in The Letters of Ayn Rand, before they were published, plus many more. I am not unsure about what Ayn Rand thought about the use of her name or image in her lifetime.

Ayn Rand did not approve use of her name in organizations or groups (such as "Ayn Rand Institute") during her lifetime, but indicated a completely different attitude about such matters after her death--and communicated that to Dr. Peikoff (note spelling). Based on your reading of her letters, do you know what her opinion would have been about permitting an "Ayn Rand Institute" in her lifetime? Would you therefore like ARI to close down?

I know the staff at ARI very well and have worked with them and Dr. Peikoff on this and similar issues for many years. Curiously, I have never heard of you.

But you are entitled to your opinion. However, I cannot give more time to debating it.

And my final unanswered email:

******,

I am dissapointed by your sarcastic tone and lack of willingness to contemplate that you may have made a mistake here.

This was a Calender. Each month featuring a different Atheist. The purpose of the calender was to show that great people were atheists. They were all grouped together in that way.

A stamp is nothing like that. She was alone on the stamp. No sane person would link her to other people on stamps.

Imagine if someone had a calender of "Great Germans" and one of them listed was Adolph Hitler. Do you think the family of Ann Frank would allow her to be on it if asked? To share a stage with him?

To Ayn Rand it wouldnt have been much different. Because there was nothing on this earth she hated more than communism. Communism had the same effect on her family and life as Hitlers did on the Frank family.

Your analogies about encylcopedias (which don't need your permission) and other publications is just not the same context as this.

You are trying to belittle me and minimize my opinion because you "never heard of me".

Why don't you judge me on the merits of what I am saying? I am only complaining because I value Ayn Rand's message and work and do not want to see her face next to a scumbag's.

******

Am I wrong about this? I am curious what some of your points of view are on this..

O

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Yeah, you're out of bounds.

Especially your continued assertion that you know Ayn Rand's mind better than those who were with her did. Truly a poor basis for an argument.

They gave you a reasonable response, to which you called them sarcastic, which I don't see anywhere in his letter. If it is, then it is only after your concescending first reply. I'm surprised they responded to you at all with a second reply.

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Yeah, you're out of bounds.

Especially your continued assertion that you know Ayn Rand's mind better than those who were with her did. Truly a poor basis for an argument.

They gave you a reasonable response, to which you called them sarcastic, which I don't see anywhere in his letter. If it is, then it is only after your concescending first reply. I'm surprised they responded to you at all with a second reply.

Perhaps. But, I am certain from her repeated and consistent denials to people asking for permission to use her name or material in "Letters to Ayn Rand" that I am on terra firma with regard to her position on such matters.

BD

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Perhaps. But,

It's a presumptuous response, amounting to "I have a right to be condescending because I really do know Ayn Rand's mind better than they do."

The believed correctness of any position does not give the holder of that position the indiscriminant right to be rude.

His first reply to that simply said, The Ayn Rand Letters are not the complete inventory of Rand's mind, which is correct. That give this claim quite a lot of credence.

Ayn Rand did not approve use of her name in organizations or groups (such as "Ayn Rand Institute") during her lifetime, but indicated a completely different attitude about such matters after her death--and communicated that to Dr. Peikoff (note spelling). Based on your reading of her letters, do you know what her opinion would have been about permitting an "Ayn Rand Institute" in her lifetime? Would you therefore like ARI to close down?

It is stunning to me the presumptuousness of people who by simply reading her works think that they know what she would have done in a particular situation, as if that somehow gives them instant understanding of Objectivism to a level of Rand's understanding of it, and in defiance of what she actually told people who were close to her. It is one thing to write letter of concern over your beliefs. It is quite another to persist in instisting after you've been given quite a reasonable explanation.

Edited by KendallJ
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It's a presumptuous response, amounting to "I have a right to be condescending because I really do know Ayn Rand's mind better than they do."

The believed correctness of any position does not give the holder of that position the indiscriminant right to be rude.

His first reply to that simply said, The Ayn Rand Letters are not the complete inventory of Rand's mind, which is correct.

No its a response that says "I do not neccesarily agree with you that I was presumptious" I do not think I was being rude.

And of course her letters are not a "complete inventory of her mind" but Ayn Rand was consistent and not prone to contradictions.

Instead of debating who was rude or arrogant in the email. What am I really interested in discussing here is the validity of the arguement. Is it appropriate for permission to have been given for Ayn Rand to be on a calender that has Che Guevera on the cover.

O

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I didn't have a problem with the second response less two items...

"I know the staff at ARI very well and have worked with them and Dr. Peikoff on this and similar issues for many years. Curiously, I have never heard of you."

Why is it curious that he has never met every single Objectivist in the world? He probably doesn't know me...so what? Does that make me some sort of lesser being in his eyes?

I also thought it was interesting that he noted the spelling of "Peikoff" yet made a grammatical error in saying, "It did not even apply that their should be a government post office." Did he mean imply and there?

I guess I would have expected a more thoughtful, professional response from ARI, or no response at all. This sounded like an emotional response from someone on a forum who had been offended.

[Edit] I just read your most recent post and my answer is, no, I do not like her on a calendar associated with Guevara, but that's just my opinion.

Edited by K-Mac
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I disagree Kelly. Looks at O's first reply.

He says

I can personally guarantee you that not one person alive that knew her would say she would have given permission to have been included on that calendar.

That is so stunningly arrogant and presumptuous, I think the ARI responder did a fabulous job of keeping his cool.

OF,

you started the thread by asking "Am I wrong in this?" Is that or isn't that the debate you wanted. You were wrong.

The ARI respondent answered your appropriateness claim quite well, what problem do you have with it.

How does the calendar imply that they are similar in any other way than they were both atheists? The variety of people on the calendar right there would indicate that you really can't tell much about atheists one from the other other than the fact that they are atheists. Sigmun Freud, Mark Twain, Marlena Detrich. What do these people possibly also have in common with Che Guevara? Your claim might hold water if maybe she was along side Marx, Lenin, Guevara, Castro and Mao but that is a Sesame Street "Which of these doesn't belong" quiz.

Edited by KendallJ
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That is so stunningly arrogant and presumptuous, I think the ARI responder did a fabulous job of keeping his cool.

Don't get me wrong...I am not saying I agree with OismForever's inquiries or their tone; however, as a former Correspondence Representative at a large mutual fund company, I know all about taking the higher ground and remaining calm when responding to an emotional correspondent. When the tech bubble burst in the early 90s, I was bombarded by cursing, angry shareholders and it was my job to remain clam and rational and explain to them what was really going on. I'm just a little surprised by the response, that's all.

Edited by K-Mac
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I disagree Kelly. Looks at O's first reply.

He says

That is so stunningly arrogant and presumptuous, I think the ARI responder did a fabulous job of keeping his cool.

I make such a statement because I have spent the last 20 years reading ever published word she has ever written. And, I would be willing to wager that Binswanger, Peikoff any of them would agree that she would not have allowed her picture to be used in that context. It may sound presumptious to you. But, if you are as familiar with her work as I am, you wouldnt have much doubt.

Would it be presumptious to say "I can personally guarantee you that Ayn Rand would never have appeared at a communist meeting"?

If not, then what is the difference between the two statements?

One may seem presumptious to you and the second one obvious. But, to me they are both obvious.

Edited by OismForever
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The purpose of the calender was to show that great people were atheists.

How have you come to that conclusion? The title of the calendar is simply "Atheists." For the same reason that you cannot judge someone to be good just because they are an atheist, you should not assume that a calendar claiming to feature only atheists is also passing moral judgement on them.

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How have you come to that conclusion? The title of the calendar is simply "Atheists." For the same reason that you cannot judge someone to be good just because they are an atheist, you should not assume that a calendar claiming to feature only atheists is also passing moral judgement on them.

Good point. And that is true. But, I do think it is implied, or else the calender makes no sense. Think of the kind of person who would want to have it? Either an Atheist who wants to be reminded that great people were also atheists. Or a theist that wants to be reminded that there were bad people that were atheists.

O

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Would it be presumptious to say "I can personally guarantee you that Ayn Rand would never have appeared at a communist meeting"?

Because that calendar is hardly an endorsement of communism. Unless you're going to claim that Twain and Freud were Communists. You see Che and the whole calendar is Communism to you. THat is your presumption.

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Good point. And that is true. But, I do think it is implied, or else the calender makes no sense. Think of the kind of person who would want to have it? Either an Atheist who wants to be reminded that great people were also atheists. Or a theist that wants to be reminded that there were bad people that were atheists.

An atheist would want this kind of calendar. His moral character is out of the question here. His view of ethics is irrelevant.

You are forgetting that people are atheists for different reasons. A person who admires those who also deny the existence of a superior being will want to purchase this calendar. He might not even consider the concept of morality as linked to one's metaphysical beliefs. In fact, they are NOT necessarily connected because, as I said, people are atheists for very different reasons.

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Here is a response she gave once to being asked to allow an excerpt of her work to be printed in the Chicago Sun.

"I cannot let my name appear as that of a contributor to the Chicago Sun, because this would amount to an endorsement of its policy and an acceptance of its inexcusable insult to my book. I do not cooperate or collaborate with Collectivism."

The last sentence is the key.

The bottom line to me is, does anyone really believe Ayn Rand would have given permission to be included in a calender that has Che Guvera on the cover? I do not believe it is "incredibly arrogant" to say she would never allow it.

O

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Here is a response she gave once to being asked to allow an excerpt of her work to be printed in the Chicago Sun.

"I cannot let my name appear as that of a contributor to the Chicago Sun, because this would amount to an endorsement of its policy and an acceptance of its inexcusable insult to my book. I do not cooperate or collaborate with Collectivism."

The last sentence is the key.

The bottom line to me is, does anyone really believe Ayn Rand would have given permission to be included in a calender that has Che Guvera on the cover? I do not believe it is "incredibly arrogant" to say she would never allow it.

Sure, because of the distinction that the ARI represntative gave you. She giving permission while she was alive amount to her sanction. Not simply act of association but that fact that she, the living Ayn Rand, gave permission.

Now that she is dead, the use of her image is a different thing. It is not a sign of her explicit sanction of anything.

Again, the last sentence has no bearing because this is not a calendar of Collectivists.

Following up on Mimpy's comments, if the purpose of the calendar is that important peole were atheists, then her absence from the calendar says that Che Guevara is a memorable atheist and Ayn Rand is not. Someday we hope that no one will even think that Che is a memorable atheist but the only way to do that is to compete for share of mind, to give an alternative. For those atheists who find association with Che distasteful, then Ayn Rand provides a positive alternative. I want positive alternatives provided, in fact, I want Che overwhelmed with positive alternatives. I want the casual atheist to look at that calendar and think "wow, Twain, Frued, Rand, hmmm... CHe's a bit of a stretch, but I think I'll buy it anyway". I want her on that calendar, and I think it's appropriate that she's there.

Edited by KendallJ
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I make such a statement because I have spent the last 20 years reading ever published word she has ever written. And, I would be willing to wager that Binswanger, Peikoff any of them would agree that she would not have allowed her picture to be used in that context.

Well now wait a minute, a minute ago you were giving us your "personal guarantee" and now your just willing to wager (I assume meaning you think that there's a better than 50% chance).

Do you think that maybe a few people at ARI have also read everything Rand published (maybe even a lot that she didn't that you dont' have access to?), and been studying her for more than 20 years. Not only that, Mr. Ralston is paid to think about the specific policy of where Rand's image and ideas will be used. Do you think he hasn't spent some time on it? Not only that, Peikoff was insturmental in founding ARI, he has significant interst in seeing Rand philsophy get disseminated in the proper way and in the way she wanted it. Don't you think that he might have had several conversations with Ralston specifically regarding the very important topic of where and how Rand should be publicized?

But based upon your "personal guarantee" and your ever-so-impressive credentials (which many people on this board, including myself can also claim) after reading only Rands published works, you know for a fact that this statement by the archivist:

Ayn Rand did not approve use of her name in organizations or groups (such as "Ayn Rand Institute") during her lifetime, but indicated a completely different attitude about such matters after her death--and communicated that to Dr. Peikoff (note spelling).

must be a complete fabrication....

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Sure, because of the distinction that the ARI represntative gave you. She giving permission while she was alive amount to her sanction. Not simply act of association but that fact that she, the living Ayn Rand, gave permission.

Now that she is dead, the use of her image is a different thing. It is not a sign of her explicit sanction of anything.

Again, the last sentence has no bearing because this is not a calendar of Collectivists.

Following up on Mimpy's comments, if the purpose of the calendar is that important peole were atheists, then her absence from the calendar says that Che Guevara is a memorable atheist and Ayn Rand is not. Someday we hope that no one will even think that Che is a memorable atheist but the only way to do that is to compete for share of mind, to give an alternative. For those atheists who find association with Che distasteful, then Ayn Rand provides a positive alternative. I want her on that calendar, and I think it's appropriate that she's there.

You cannot on one hand agree that Ayn Rand would not have allowed herself to be in the calender and then also say that me stating that to ARI was "incredibly arrogant".

What you attacked me for was saying I guarantee she would not have allowed it. I stand by that statement and think most informed people would agree with me.

But, you make some good points. And I can almost live with that rationale. But, having Guvera, a communist revolutionary on the cover does not sit right with me. Maybe I am too touchy about it. But, I just have a very profound love for her work and her ideas. And, seeing her grouped with someone who probably would have had her killed if he had the power, makes me want to puke.

There are other people in the calender who I know Miss Rand would also object to. But, Guvera is in a special league.

O

Edited by OismForever
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You cannot on one hand agree that Ayn Rand would not have allowed herself to be in the calender and then also say that me stating that to ARI was "incredibly arrogant".

What you attacked me for was saying I guarantee she would not have allowed it. I stand by that statement and think most informed people would agree with me.

What you say is absolutely true, and absolutely irrelevant to the issue of whether ARI should allow it. What I am attacking you for is the dropping of context in jumping from that statement to your anger that ARI should not allow the picture to be published.

That statement is true but irrelevant. It cannot be used as an argument against ARI. The point of your letter was not to talk about what Rand would have done in an irrelevant context, but rather to argue that because Rand would not have done it, then ARI should not do it either, isn't it? In fact, they gave you direct evidence that agreed with your assertion and also indicated that Rand herself said she would not have done it, but that that doesn't mean she woudn't approve of it being done after her death. i.e. that things she specifically woudl not have done during her life, she might approve of after she is dead.

Do you see why this is presumptuous? You presume to know how she would have applied her principles and stood up to it even in the face of direct evidence to the contrary.

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What you say is absolutely true, and absolutely irrelevant to the issue of whether ARI should allow it. What I am attacking you for is the dropping of context in jumping from that statement to your anger that ARI should not allow the picture to be published.

That statement is true but irrelevant. It cannot be used as an argument against ARI. The point of your letter was not to talk about what Rand would have done in an irrelevant context, but rather to argue that because Rand would not have done it, then ARI should not do it either, isn't it? In fact, they gave you direct evidence that agreed with your assertion and also indicated that Rand herself said she would not have done it, but that that doesn't mean she woudn't approve of it being done after her death. i.e. that things she specifically woudl not have done during her life, she might approve of after she is dead.

Do you see why this is presumptuous? You presume to know how she would have applied her principles and stood up to it even in the face of direct evidence to the contrary.

I never approached the debate about how Ayn Rand would have felt about her picture being used after her death. But, I honestly cannot see any reason why she would have felt any differently.

Your arguement has evolved during this discussion to try to find a point of attack you can be right on. If that is what you want to do then fine.

I never intended for this thread to be a debate about who was more rude in their emails me or ARI. I just wanted to explore whether or not others believed it appropriate for her to be in the calender. You have made your arguement as to why you think it is and I have no problem with that.

O

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There are other people in the calender who I know Miss Rand would also object to. But, Guvera is in a special league.

Well, someday I'd like to think that atheism and reason and Rand would all be though of synonmously, but let's get rid of the villians by starting with the worst.

Don't get me wrong OF, I admire your passion about the subject, but I just think its pretty clear you were out of line.

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I never approached the debate about how Ayn Rand would have felt about her picture being used after her death. But, I honestly cannot see any reason why she would have felt any differently.

Uh, excuse me. Now someone is trying to weasle out of their position. Your original letter, your outrage. They are premised; they rest on this linkage. You provide no other justificaiton in your letter for why you should be angry and why they should not do this than the fact that Ayn Rand wouldn't have done it. You argue against ARI's claim by providing evidence of the fact that she would not have done it.

Do you really expect us to believe that you were angry and wrote to them without this in mind?

She obviously saw reason to feel differently, so if you cannot, then you must not know her mind as well as you thought. You really owe them an apology.

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Uh, excuse me. Now someone is trying to weasle out of their position. Your original letter, your outrage. They are premised; they rest on this linkage. You provide no other justificaiton in your letter for why you should be angry and why they should not do this than the fact that Ayn Rand wouldn't have done it. You argue against ARI's claim by providing evidence of the fact that she would not have done it.

Do you really expect us to believe that you were angry and wrote to them without this in mind?

She obviously saw reason to feel differently, so if you cannot, then you must not know her mind as well as you thought. You really owe them an apology.

We have to break this down to the very issue of what you found to be "incredibly arrogant" in my letter. And, as best I can tell you took issue with me saying "I can personally guarantee you that not one person alive that knew her would say she would have given permission to have been included on that calendar."

I am only referring to what she would have done while she was alive. Because at that point the issue or arguement about her opinion post-death had not come into play. I never argued whether or not it would have been different post mortem.

But, I think the issue is splitting hairs. What difference would it make if she was alive or dead? Her ideas were what she was protecting and those will never die.

O

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I am only referring to what she would have done while she was alive. Because at that point the issue or arguement about her opinion post-death had not come into play. I never argued whether or not it would have been different post mortem.

But, I think the issue is splitting hairs. What difference would it make if she was alive or dead? Her ideas were what she was protecting and those will never die.

You are only referring to... but you are referring to that to make the case that ARI should also do the same thing.

Look at this. You've done this twice now. You've denied you're talking about the linkage in the first para, and then turn right around in the 2nd para. The 2nd para is what justifies your letter, and your anger. If you really wrote them to say "Ayn Rand would never have done this. But I'm not saying that that implies anything about what you should be doing" then your letter becomes incoherent. If what she would have done implies nothing about what they should do, then why did you write it? Why are you angry?

Instead you have to paste the two back together in a secone para in order for your argurment to hold together. You say that it doesnt' matter because the principles never die. Exactly! If it doesn't matter and the princpiles never die, then the fact that Rand would have done it means that ARI should also do it. Your arrogance comes from the fact that you presume to understand how Rand's principles apply in different contexts. You are saying that the contexts are irrelevant and that is how Rand would apply it too. It's not. You are wrong. You applied her principles wrongly. You presumed to know, even when provided with evidence to the contrary. That is the arrogance.

Edited by KendallJ
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You are only referring to... but you are referring to that to make the case that ARI should also do the same thing.

Look at this. You've done this twice now. You've denied you're talking about the linkage in the first para, and then turn right around in the 2nd para. The 2nd para is what justifies your letter, and your anger. If you really wrote them to say "Ayn Rand would never have done this. But I'm not saying that that implies anything about what you should be doing" then your letter becomes incoherent. If what she would have done implies nothing about what they should do, then why did you write it? Why are you angry?

Instead you have to paste the two back together in a secone para in order for your argurment to hold together. You say that it doesnt' matter because the principles never die. Exactly! If it doesn't matter and the princpiles never die, then the fact that Rand would have done it means that ARI should also do it. Your arrogance comes from the fact that you presume to understand how Rand's principles apply in different contexts. You are saying that the contexts are irrelevant and that is how Rand would apply it too. It's not. You are wrong. You applied her principles wrongly. You presumed to know, even when provided with evidence to the contrary. That is the arrogance.

I am not a regular on this board. So I am not familiar with your posts or your reputation. But, you are not making a very good impression on me thus far.

You are doing your best to try and fit a square peg into a round hole and define to me what I was saying and thinking as if you know better than I do.

Whatever.

This threat has completely lost its topic and there is no point in continuing this arguement with you.

O

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You know, I just noticed the interesting email is the one you didn't include. The first one you mailed to ARI. You started with their reply to you. The one that actually presents your case to them. I'd like you to post that one, just so we can see what the basis of your argument was.

You could clarify this for us all if rather than saying "I was only addressing this point" if you could restate your original argument. You've said you thought the concept of her being in the calendar was offensive. You spent an entire email pointing out that she would not have allowed her picture to be placed in such a calendar (with no statement about what that implies ARI should be doing). If it was not to argue that ARI should also not allow her picture to be included, then don't you agree that the email is entirely incoherent?

If you were trying to argue that ARI should not do this, then you made a mistake in thinking that Rand's opinion in how her name should be used while alive was the same as that after she died. It was your error, not ARI's. But after they pointed this out to you, you continued to argue about what Rand would have done. That was after the aspect of post-death use came up, not as you claim only before.

There are a lot of inconsistencies here. But if you want to try to restate your case, then I'd be happy to hear it.

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