Michael Gerson’s April 22 op-ed column, “Adolescent ‘Atlas,’ ” so badly misrepresented Ayn Rand’s ideas that I can only wonder whether he has ever read her work.

Rand was a strenuous advocate of individualism, and she opposed all forms of collectivism, including class warfare. She did not view “the people” as looters or parasites, only a few people (many of those being corrupt politicians or incompetent businessmen who sought to stay in business with government favors). It is clear from her novels that Rand admired the honest average person (and both “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” portray close friendships between such average people and the novels’ heroes or heroines).

Rand did not oppose all government. She believed that a government limited to its proper role (i.e., the protection of individual rights as articulated in the Declaration of Independence) is a necessary good. For her, government only became evil to the extent that it went from protecting rights to violating rights.  

Genie Lemos, Arlington

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Arriving in the United States from the rigid and oppressive world of the Soviet era, Ayn Rand would have been shocked to find herself labeled or typecast as affiliated with any political party in today’s uncertain world, much less maligned by the left or embraced by the right. She was above all a philosopher and a thinker. The fact that she still has the power to provoke speaks volumes about today’s murky cultural wasteland.

So, despite bad cinematography (not her fault) and a lack of understanding by those who claim her legacy, let us give Rand her due: She at least loved America for giving her her freedom, and our reading skills were enriched beyond belief after getting through 1,080 pages of “Atlas Shrugged”!

Marina Hall, Chevy Chase

marinahall@yahoo.com marinamhall@gmail.com 3410 Glenmoor drive Chevy Chase Md.20815 tel: 301 656 2758

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Thirty-five years ago, I was one of the millions of adolescents who have picked up Ayn Rand’s novels and have not stopped thinking about them since. I was then a 17-year-old who observed those around me working to acquire material goods and thought that there must be greater meaning to life. Rand presented me with a vision of mankind as heroic and of a world of limitless possibilities. 

Fortunately for me, she has proved right. As director of medical imaging at George Washington University Hospital, I marvel at the loving care my staff provides to patients using technology that just a short time ago was only a dream. I see Rand’s ideas alive in my volunteer work with the District’s charter school movement, as stubborn individuals fight to reverse decades of inadequate public education.  

In his assault on “Atlas Shrugged,” Michael Gerson contended that Rand’s concepts are incongruent with those of Ronald Reagan. He of all people should be able to recall these words from Reagan’s his first inaugural address, which could have come right out of one of Rand’s books: “We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we are in a time when there are no heroes just don’t know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter, and they are on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity.”  

Mark S. Lerner, Washington

Mr. White,

How are you?  It has been awhile.

Yes, I am the author of the letter.

I am using my real name.

I have not sent this letter or similar item to any other media, Internet forums or blogs.

I like your edits very much but wish you had kept in the sentence I had been raised in a home which practiced part-time Judaism and never could rectify its beliefs with my own reliance on rationality.

Mark

mark.lerner@gwu-hospital.com   I am the Director of Medical Imaging at the George Washington University Hospital and the Board Treasurer for Washington Latin Public Charter School.   3287C Sutton Place, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20016 Home 202 362-1832 Work 202 715-5201 Cell 703 819-9308