[October 5, 2002]

Are We a Nation of Keatings or Roarks?

By Wayne Dunn

America's foreign policy reminds me of Peter Keating, a character from one of my favorite novels, "The Fountainhead."

Keating is a slave to the opinions of others. His wife, career, work, and beliefs are selected with other people foremost in mind: marrying a glamorous woman he doesn't love-- eye-candy for others; studying architecture-- to please his mother; the buildings he designs-- copied from others; political and social views-- echoes of popular opinion.

No matter the situation, Keating selflessly submits to the perceived wishes of those around him.

Unfortunately, virtually all of America's politicians and the intellectuals who educated them are Peter Keating clones. That our President lacks the moral confidence to vanquish our foes without first begging permission from "allies" is just one sign of this. That Congress can even be split on the issue of crushing those who aim to destroy us is no less foreboding. That our university professors equate a nation of individual rights to authoritarian pestholes is undiluted multiculturalist poison.

Even after witnessing the slaughter of thousands of Americans, our pandering politicos and prissy professoriate shudder at the thought of independent action--because "unilateral" moves don't please others-- because these Keating-esque appeasers are more terrified of other nations calling us selfish than they are of terrorists murdering more Americans.

We deserve better. We deserve leaders like the novel's hero, Keating's antithesis, Howard Roark.

Roark is a prime mover, unafraid to stand on his judgment, even if doing so means being controversial or disliked. When detractors brand him "selfish," Roark doesn't run to church or start writing checks, as our cringing politicians would do-- he bears the title proudly: he understands that pursuing one's own rational values is indeed an act of self-interest, and he doesn't feel guilty about it. When pressured to compromise with opinions he knows are wrong, he sticks to his guns. When "humanitarians," newspapers, and the public align against him, he remains unshaken.

In the end, Roark prevails, while Keating, the man without a self, falls by the wayside.

If we become a nation of Keatings, sacrificing our own interests for the sake of international approval (a fickle thing, at best), then America, too, will fall by the wayside. And all the little Keatings walking among us, who will have caused the mess, will sob that they didn't really mean it.

I suggest we go the Roark route.

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© COPYRIGHT 2002 by Wayne Dunn