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INTERVIEWS AND NOTICES

THE VILLAGE VOICE (15-21 March 2000): 14.

Higher Ed:  The Polecat Makes a Comeback -- Gettin' Randy

Norah Vincent

Higher Ed columnist Norah Vincent discusses the tragedy of Hillsdale College, in which the president of the college had an affair with his daughter-in-law, Lissa Roche, who later committed suicide.  Lissa was described as a Rand fan.   Sam Tanenhaus in Vanity Fair and Garry Wills in the New York Post placed the blame for Roche's suicide on Rand's influence.

Vincent questions the assumption.  She points out too that Rand has been "resurrected" by "a hungry assortment of Rand scholars," among them, "Chris Matthew Sciabarra, founding editor of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies and a visiting scholar in NYU's politics department, [who] coedited a volume of essays entitled Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand.  When I asked him about Wills's take on Lissa, he said:  'Blaming Rand for the bad judgment Lissa may have shown is a new variation of the Twinkie Defense.  Now people can say:   'Don't blame me--Atlas Shrugged did it'.'"

"Sciabarra's coeditor, Mimi Reisel Gladstein, an associate dean at the University of Texas at El Paso, naysayed the suggestion that Rand's ideas are misogynist:  'I read Atlas Shrugged and it gave me intellectual ammunition to defy the sexist stereotypes that were being used to limit me.  It helped me to clarify my thinking on a number of cogent issues in the early struggles of the women's movement.' . . . Sciabarra explained:  'Lissa was described as a 'groupie,' something that is foreign to Rand's individualist philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of reason, judgment, and self-esteem.  Many feminists recognize that Rand's emphasis on 'man-worship' was simply an extension of her sexual psychology and not essential to her philosophy'. . . ."

"Negative press notwithstanding, Rand is making a comeback. . . . Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, says Sciabarra, are showing up in literature courses, while Rand's philosophical essays are being assigned in government, philosophy, and political theory classes around the country.  Not to worry, though--at least now budding Randians are being supervised."


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