Recent Media References to Ayn Rand
The most important recent "Rand reference in the media" is the remarkable September 24, 2002 USA Today cover story on how corporate scandals have been renewing interest by businessmen in Ayn Randís Atlas Shrugged. The Atlas Society was mentioned repeatedly in this long feature article, which appeared "above the fold" on page one, complete with a large, full-color illustration.
Perhaps one person reminded of Randís great novel by that article was conservative columnist William F. Buckley. The next day, in his September 25, 2002 syndicated column, Buckley reported that in 1998, socialist Sweden increased the governmentís paid "sick leave" benefit to 80% of a workerís incomeno matter how long the illness. Since then, Swedes increased their absences for illness on average from 14 to 25 days per year, welfare expenses for illness compensation soared from $2 billion to $5.3 billion, and 62% of polled employees admit to taking sick leaves when they werenít illyet see nothing wrong with that. Quoting a professor who declares that Swedes are nonetheless "honest and decent," Buckley comments that "the Swedes may be asked to confront the question: Is the market system Ďhonest and decentí? That could bring on a nationwide cease-work on the order of what Ayn Rand wrote about in 'Atlas Shrugged.'"
The anniversary of the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in New York was the occasion for many to recall Ayn Randís famous remarks about her favorite city. For example, in "What 9/11 Means to New York," James B. Chapin, UPI national political analyst, quotes prominent peopleís emotional responses to the Big Appleamong them Ayn Rand. "Ayn Rand, the immigrant from Russia, wrote in 'The Fountainhead,' 'I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body.'"
On October 2, National Public Radio (NPR) aired its "Talk of the Nation" program. Host Lynn Neary interviewed writer Diane Osen on her volume, The Book That Changed My Life: Interviews With National Book Award Winners and Finalists. During the audience phone-in segment, a foreign-born caller named Jehad cited Atlas Shrugged as the book that had most influenced him. "It told me that I could do what I want, especially in the United StatesÖ I wanted to do my business, and the book kind of pushed me to do my own business. And Iím successful at it, Iím happy with it." Neary then said that she too had been "very influenced by that book when I first read it, but grew out of it a little bit as well." Osen added, "That was actually my experience with Rand as well, having read her when I was in high school. I was very much influenced by her books then, as were many of my friends, as I recall."
References to Atlas Shrugged have become so commonplace that they are dropped into conversations and writings without commentas if any literate reader should understand the allusions. For example, the September 29th issue of The New York Times carried an article on page 44 about the unsuccessful sale of an Atlas-F missile silo, which had been converted into a private residence. The articleís title: "Long after the Atlas, a Shrug: Missile Silo Draws No Bidders." No further explanation of the title was supplied: its meaning was taken for granted.