At 8:20 p.m. on Friday, April 4th, our small group arrived at room 54-100 to help set up for a concert of women and minority musicians. There was a lecture going on. The group inside had the room reserved until 9:00, so several of us sat in the back to listen. We were in for a shock.
The speaker was Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. I later learned that the MIT Objectivist Club sponsored the talk. For those not familiar with Ayn Rand’s work or the philosophy she created (objectivism), suffice it to say that laissez-faire capitalism (don’t worry about regulating child labor or the environment, the corporations will see to it) and the individual man as self-interested hero (see uber-mensch under “Third Reich”) are prominent features. Nice words like “individual rights” are used to cover deeply held superiority complexes.
As audience members nodded approval, Brook stood at the podium, asserting that colonialism had been beneficial. The British brought civilization to India and the Indians were happy when it happened. What’s more, the real decline for poor countries began when they got rid of the Europeans and rejected Westernization.
Brook also feels strongly that the only way to combat terrorism is to Westernize the Arab world. No more of this wishy-washy appeasement that the USA has been lavishing on the non-Western heathens for so long.
But these are comparatively minor points, for as we all sat there in disbelief, the depths revealed themselves. Brook somehow managed to take up the white settlement of North America with gusto. “99.99% of the land was uninhabited” so colonization was “natural and proper.” Besides, the Indians “weren’t civilized.” These comments are not being taken out of context.
It is estimated that between 12 and 15 million Native Americans inhabited the lower 48 states at the time of Columbus’ accidental discovery. There were vibrant nations residing in each and every one of these territories. By 1900, they numbered fewer than 250,000.
This man was spewing such virulently racist, white-supremacist, apologist nonsense that our group was looking at each other, not sure what to do. It was sickening.
After Dr. Brook answered a question by denying that genocide had been carried out against Native Americans, our group began to loudly disrupt the lecture, shouting “White Power!” and “Zieg Hiel!” I am glad that we were there to rise up and identify that reasoning for what it is. The unanswered question: Does the MIT Objectivist Club stand by the words of their invited speaker?
Jeff Duritz G