Letters: The Liberal Ayn Rand?

Melissa Block reads letters from listeners about a conversation with Yale history professor Beverly Gage about her article for Slate, which asks, "Why is there no liberal Ayn Rand?"

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Now, your letters. And we got a lot of them about my conversation yesterday with Yale history professor Beverly Gage. She wrote a piece for Slate, posing the question: Why is there no liberal Ayn Rand? Conservatives, including congressman Paul Ryan, often cite Rand's books, including "Atlas Shrugged," as key influences.

BEVERLY GAGE: Well, I think conservatives and particularly a segment of the conservative movement have been pretty self-conscious in coming up with a coherent intellectual tradition, and I think liberals have been much less self-conscious about doing that.

BLOCK: Really, asks James McMurtry of Tallahassee, Florida. A great big news and analysis team at ATC couldn't come up with a liberal's Ayn Rand. McMurtry goes on to list his suggestions for a liberal canon, including Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. For Kaye Adkins of St. Joseph, Missouri, John Steinbeck comes to mind. She writes: I can't think of a better counterpoint to "Atlas Shrugged" than "The Grapes of Wrath." And Peter Phillips of Montclair, New Jersey, sent this suggestion: A well-known thinker who told many stories - part of world literature - espousing the theme that we should take care of each other, particularly the most vulnerable among us. He writes: That would be Jesus Christ.

And finally, Kristy Oriol of Sacramento, California, wrote in not with a suggestion but with this critique: As a liberal fan of Ayn Rand's extraordinary ability to portray libertarian philosophy, I was sickened by Paul Ryan's use of "Atlas Shrugged" in justifying his political beliefs. I find it hard to believe that Ayn Rand would have supported his conservative agenda on women's rights and marriage equality. Thanks for your letters. You can write to us by going to npr.org, click on Contact Us at the bottom of the page.

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