Buffalo, NY—He was at Madison Square Garden for the “No Nukes” concert in ‘79. He was at the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999. And, this past spring he marched religiously in the Black Lives Matter protests. So it came as quite a shock to Swen Soweto, a lifelong liberal, to be fingering among his Chandler, Kerouac and Chuck Palahniuk novels in one of his bookshelves to come upon “The Virtue of Selfishness.” by Ayn Rand. Soweto immediately recoiled at this screed of conservative thought and went searching for his wife for an explanation.
His wife of thirty plus years, Helena Rosetta-Soweto couldn’t be sure how the slim volume ended up on the shelf, but suspected it was purchased during the week or so in the early 90’s he listened to Rush Limbaugh. “Remember, you called me a feminazi and I jammed a bologna sandwich down the back of your shirt?” A lightbulb then went off in Soweto’s head.
Wincing in pain he furrowed his brow and recalled how back in the early 90’s, not only did he listen to Limbaugh for about a week, but how he used to shop at a used book store on Elmwood Avenue called Circular Word. After going in there for a while, Gene the owner, who chained smoked non-filters and had teeth so yellow, you’d swear they had an acute case of jaundice, called him out for all the bullshit he was reading. “What?” Gene would say, “Are you through all the Susan Sontag and now you’re moving onto Betty Freidan? How about you read manly stuff like Nietzsche or William F. Buckley or if it’s the ladies you like so much try Ayn Rand.”
Paging through the slim Ayn Rand book Soweto stopped in a few places and started reading and quickly found the crux of Rand’s argument—man is a heroic being and his own personal happiness should be the purpose of his life. That was the gateway drug for these lying small government assholes like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul, who tried to trick people into thinking programs like Social Security was some kind of handout. And, they told these people instead relying in this government handout they should pull themselves up by the bootstraps and take ownership of their pathetic lives. They said all this while giving big tax breaks to rich people.
A chill ran down Soweto’s spine as he placed the Ayn Rand book in his recycling bin. He then spent the night sipping Grey Goose on the rocks with a spritz of lime and listening to U2 expound on all the streets with no names, before falling asleep watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.