lfb.org / By Douglas French / February 23, 2013
John Goedde, chairman of the Idaho Senate’s Education Committee, introduced legislation a couple weeks ago that would require every Idaho high school student to read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and pass a test on it to graduate from high school.
Why Atlas Shrugged? Goedde told a colleague that reading the book made his son a Republican.
Hearing of this in the hereafter, Ms. Rand might tell the good senator to “check his premises.”
Having government schools require the reading of a book that advocates freedom seems to be a contradiction. But I’m sure Senator Goedde has nothing but good intentions, and besides, he doesn’t intend to push the matter.
They must have plenty of time, paper, and ink to propose bills up in Idaho for merely publicity purposes. Which reminds me of the story Nathaniel Branden relates in his book Judgment Day: My Years with Ayn Rand.
After she finished The Fountainhead, Rand considered writing a nonfiction book on the morality of individualism. It is that positive moral case for free enterprise that Rand portrays which captures the imagination of so many people. She thought maybe she should spell it out clearly in a nonfiction format. However, she lacked enthusiasm for the project.
Laissez Faire Club author Isabel Paterson tried to talk Rand into writing it, arguing that it was her friend’s duty to mankind to write it. “Your message is so important for people,” Paterson pleaded.
But Rand argued that if people didn’t find enlightenment with The Fountainhead, if they don’t understand her message, then why was it her job to make them understand. Paterson said, “because people need it.”
“Oh, they do?” replied Rand. “What if I went on strike? What if all the creative minds of the world went on strike?”
“That would make a good novel,” Rand added as an afterthought, no doubt while looking skyward and slowly exhaling smoke after a luxurious drag from her distinctive cigarette holder.
That flash of inspiration lead to the book that the Idaho senator wants to force down students’ throats.