Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House budget committee, was scheduled yesterday to speak at Georgetown University, a Catholic institution. 90 faculty members and administrators sent him a letter about his budget:
“I am afraid that Chairman Ryan’s budget reflects the values of his favorite philosopher Ayn Rand rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Father Thomas Reese, a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown, in a press release Tuesday. “Survival of the fittest may be okay for Social Darwinists but not for followers of the gospel of compassion and love.”
The complaints seemed to resonate with Ryan. On Thursday, he went on record denouncing Ayn Rand, who believed altruism is evil, brushing off his well-documented obsession with her as a teenage romance.
Did Paul Ryan JUST NOW discover Ayn Rand was an atheist — and a hateful, selfish, hypocritical one at that? Or did he just now discover what Jesus actually taught? Apparently so. This week, Paul Ryan’s did a big ol’ flip flop on his well-known, well-documented hero worship of Rand, as Catholic organizations, educators, and leaders started calling bullshit on Ryan for claiming to be a Christian AND a huge fan of Ayn Rand.
As one example, here’s what he said in 2005:
“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”
Ryan also said
“…that virtually every national struggle our society faces can be boiled down to the Randian binary, “Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill … is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict–individualism versus collectivism.”
But here’s what he said THIS WEEK:
I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.
Say hello to the new and improved Paul Ryan! Ayn Rand isn’t politically expedient this week, so no more conflict of interest.
Note also that many tea partiers and rightwing bloggers, who would call themselves religious people, worship at the feet of Ayn Rand and Objectivism for political purposes. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the most xenophobic, mindlessly hateful bloggers for the right has named her site after Rand’s book “Atlas Shrugged.”
So will Paul Ryan’s sudden philosophical conversion change his perspective with regard to his budget proposal? Not at all. He told a Christian tv show that his budget was practically endorsed by the Pope himself, who is down on debt:
James Salt, the executive director of Catholics United, which organized one of the protests outside the hall where Ryan was speaking, told gathered reporters that his group was there because “the dignity of the poor should be at the forefront of our minds.” Taking a dig at Ryan’s attempts to cast his budget as a boon for poor people, Salt noted, “If Paul Ryan knew what poverty was, he wouldn’t be giving this speech.”