My early years, Forman Frank

Here is more evidence that the “Whitaker is a nazi” “argument” has been

—begin quotes message from [email protected]

Subject: My Early Years
From: [email protected] (frank forman)
Date: 1996/02/03
Sender: [email protected]
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Newsgroups: alt.philosophy.objectivism

by Frank Forman
1996 February 3

John Ridpath’s nasty review of Chris Sciabarra’s
_Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical_ in the current
issue of _The Intellectual Activist_ brings back
some memories of college and graduate school
days. I knew Ridpath and his friend Northrup
Buechner [pronounced BEAK-ner, at least in those
days] during my final semester as an
undergraduate at the University of Virginia.
This was the second semester of the 1965-66
academic year.

I was a mathematics major and took most of the
graduate math courses U.Va. had to offer. But I
was getting sick of the endless piling of
abstraction upon abstraction but nevertheless
stuck it out. Midway through college, in the
Summer of 1964, Rooy Dent, a friend back in
Colorado Springs (where I had lived since I was
ten) gave me a copy of _Atlas Shrugged_ and said
“read a hundred pages a week and you’ll be
finished by the end of the Summer.” He didn’t
say what the book was all about and for the
first two or three weeks I thought it was a
satire about whiners. But not long thereafter I
found out otherwise and got so hooked I read it
to the end, with time outs for my Summer job.

The upshot was that I became an Objectivist and
subscribed to _The Objectivist Newsletter_. This
lasted about a year, when I got into the
Colorado Springs network of Robert LeFevre [luh-
FAVE] and his Freedom School, a place where
businessmen went to attend one- and two-week
seminars to learn about freedom. (They had
lecturers like Milton Friedman, not hard to do
in those far more beleaguered days.) Before then
LeFevre had been editor of the editorial page of
the _Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph_, one of
the Hoiles Freedom Newspaper chain,
headquartered in the then-infamous right-wing
Orange County, California. LeFevre was an
anarchist and he, and his replacement at the _G-
T_, Cecil Grove, persuaded me to become an
anarchist, or more specifically, Bob’s
philosophy, which he called “autarchy.”

Bob had changed Freedom School into the more
grandiose sounding Rampart College and had put
together a faculty, two of whom were James J.
Martin (now 80 and living in Colorado Springs
and the author of _Men against the State_, still
the classic treatment of American anarchists)
and W.H. Hutt, the free-market South African
economist, who died a few years ago. Martin
stayed on until the end of Rampart College, but
when Hutt learned that Rampart College was not a
true college, he decided not to go (I don’t know
whether he broke any contract) and instead went
to the University of Virginia, where he taught a
course in labor economics during my final
undergraduate semester.

As I said, I had gotten royally sick of math,
and so I went over to the economics department
and spoke to James M. Buchanan and Gordon
Tullock, two of the Founding Fathers of the
Public Choice school, about switching to
economics in graduate school. They encouraged me
to do so and I took Hutt’s course, the only
economics course I had as an undergraduate,
though I read Mises’ _Human Action_ and
Rothbard’s much better _Man, Economy and State_,
as well as lot of lesser free-market economics
works. I got an A in Hutt’s course, even though
with his thick South African accent and my
hearing loss I faded out after about ten minutes
in every class. (It was the *third* easiest A I
ever earned, for all I did was show up to class
and spent two hours looking over a book he
wanted us to read.) I also audited a course
taught by Leland Yeager (later and still the
Ludwig von Mises Professor of Economics at
Auburn University in Alabama) called Political
Economy. Yeager had all of us, including me,
write and read a paper to the class.

It was after the first class with Yeager that
Tom Ireland, then finishing his second year in
graduate economics, came up and introduced
himself to me, took me over to the student
union, and bought me a coke. (None of the math
graduate students were ever that friendly.) A
few days later, Tom spent almost a whole weekend
arguing me out of my Objectivism (anarchist
variety), by pointing out that Ayn Rand did not
ground morality successfully and in fact used
“man” in several distinct ways, something noted
regularly in this Newsgroup. Tom was an
amoralist, and as I could not respond to his
arguments, I gave up my pretensions to knowing
true morality. This was seven years after I gave
up, at age 14, my belief in god in response to a
similar challenge to justify my beliefs.

Tom said that I must get to know another
graduate student, then in his third year, Bob
Whitaker. Bob definitely thought that blacks
were inferior to whites and presented another
argument against Objectivism: what good would an
Objectivist society be if were made up solely of
[[TABOO WORD DELETED!!-The Internet Monster]]. I
had no answer to that, given his
characterization of the ability of blacks.
(Later I went to the big university library to
see what evidence there was on the question. I
found no evidence that the races were equal in
innate mental ability and recently started a
thread, cross-posted to a great many Newsgroups
to see if there is any evidence my search at the
U.Va. library and subsequent reading failed to
uncover. If you’ve been following this thread,
you know how heated the responses have been! I
did NOT have to learn about premise-checking
>from Ayn Rand.)

Tom introduced me to Ridpath and Buechner, then
also in their second year in graduate school,
though they did not get their doctorates intil
1974 and 1971, resp. (I didn’t get mine until
1985 and then from George Mason University under
Buchanan, but that’s another long story.) These
two Objectivists found my premise-checking
intolerable and so no conversations were
forthcoming after the first. (Buechner said to
me, when I brought up Bob, “Whitaker is
irrelevant.” I repeated that comment to Bob, and
he was delighted.)

Tom later told me that when he asked Ridpath and
Buechner about the morality of abortion, they
hemmed and hawed and had to write to Ayn Rand to
get the answer! Talk about a bunch of second-
handers, just like Dr. Pea Cough. I must say,
though, that I have a certain admiration for the
sheer persistence of the two, since they are
still Objectivists, Pea Coughers even, and will
be giving lectures at the upcoming Second
Renaissance Conference. (Ridpath is eminently
recognizable from his photograph in the flyer
for the Conference. He is the second handsomest
Objectivist, save only Frank O’Connor himself.)

I had forgotten R&B more or less, until Tom came
to me and asked that I support him in his bid to
be elected president of the John Randolph
Society, a sort of Young Conservatives, i.e., to
the right of the Young Republicans. This Society
was quite prestigious at U.Va., much more so
than the Young Republicans, and had sponsored a
good many lectures. (U.Va. was one of the last
“conformist” schools; today it is as politically
correct as any of them.) [[SO WHO’S THE

Now Ridpath was also running for the presidency
of the John Randolph Society. During the
election, Buechner got up and said, roughly,
“Ireland knows Whitaker, who is a Nazi. Whitaker
says he would shoot President Johnson if doing
so would further his Nazi aims. Now Ireland said
he would stop Whitaker from shooting Johnson, if
able to do so. But I don’t believe Ireland would
in fact stop Whitaker. Therefore, vote for
Ridpath.” My memory is a little unclear after
nearly thirty years, but that is the gist of it,
to the best of my recollection.

As you might imagine, Ireland won the election.
As things turned out, Tom did not stay for his
third year at U.Va. (In the Ph.D. program, the
first two years are spent on courses, which most
complete, and the third year on the
dissertation, which few complete in a single
year.) Instead, he got a teaching job at Loyola
University in Chicago and his wife a fellowship
at the University of Chicago Law School (quite
an honor, since law school fellowships then were
extremely rare, as opposed to graduate school
fellowships, like mine from the National Science

Meanwhile one of Objectivists told the Secret
Service of an assassination plot against
Johnson. They duly came to investigate at the
economics department, which Yeager took all-too-
seriously. He was then in charge of the graduate
economics program and called me into his office.
Knowing I was a friend of Ireland, he tried to
discourage me for entering graduate school that
Fall and explained to me the graduate school did
not want any “ideologues.” I assured him that I
was not an “ideologue” and was *not* an
Objectivist trouble-maker. He was distinctly
uncomfortable with this whole business and his
hands turned blue as he was talking to me. But
he wrote the dean of the graduate school to
rescind my admission. (Not just anyone can get
admitted to graduate school with no completed
undergraduate courses in the subject under their
belt, but U.Va. was different. I pretty much had
the run of the place as an undergraduate and
took graduate courses, starting my first year,
in math and philosophy (a course in symbolic
logic, which got me my easiest A; the second
easiest, to make it complete, was a math course
in the “topology of fiber bundles,” but whose
take-home final could have been done by someone
who had had only the basic first-year graduate
math courses. It took me all of half an hour to
do. Wierd.) as well as in English (second year)
and, under Hutt, economics. Would that other
colleges trust the lowly consumer to know what
he wants!). But Buchanan intervened with a
letter calling me an “erratic genius” and asking
that I be admitted. The dean compromised, just
saying I had to get a 3.2 (out of 4) average
that last semester. (The reason I know all this
is that Sarah took a job in the graduate school
office shortly after we got married between
semesters of my second year in graduate school
and found these letters in the files.)

To follow up, the John Randolph Society simply
lapsed, though in my *second* year in graduate
school (1967-68) I took it over and got it
affiliated with the Intercollegiate Society of
Individualists (later renamed the
Intercollegiate Studies Institute, much more
conservative than libertarian). I got the ISI to
sponsor a seminar on Man and Property in the
Spring of 1968. We brought the great Mises there
and well as James Jackson Kilpatrick, then a
columnist for the Richmond _News Leader_; it was
his first invited visit to U.Va. Also speaking
was Alfred Avins, who gave a good talk about how
the Reconstruction Era civil rights laws *only*
gave freedmen the right to belong to *civil*
society, i.e., to make contracts, something
denied them as slaves. (The Supreme Court paid
no heed to history and interpreted these laws as
mandating *restrictions* on freedom of contract
in the name of non-discrimination.) I plum
forgot who the fourth speaker was, until Sarah
just reminded me that it was Paul Craig Roberts,
now a conservative/libertarian columnist.

Sarah and I got to eat dinner next to Prof. and
Mrs. Mises. I just remember him as quite
dogmatic, but then old men often are, and so was
Ayn Rand as she got older and Nathaniel Branden
purged nearly everyone who was not a young
sycophant, like Mr. (as he was then) Pea Cough.
How dogmatic Miss Rand was along, I don’t know,
for I don’t know how old she was when (so I
read) when she was attacking a Christian for
being irrational at some gathering or other,
Mises later upbraided her for being “too

Anyhow, some history you’re unlikely to get from
any other source. I doubt either Ridpath or
Buechner even remember me today, and it is
highly unlikely that they tried to get Yeager to
keep me from entering graduate school. But let
this serve as a warning to you. You are unlikely
to have get a wife with a job where the files
happen to be. And had Yeager succeeded in
keeping me out of graduate school–I’m don’t see
how he could have had anything at all against me
personally–I would be completely in the dark.

I open up this thread to a discussion of the
morality, and fundamental decency, of any
“Objectivist” who would call up the Secret
Service in a case like this.

Or is it that, when it comes to Objectivism, the
end justifies the means?


—end quoted message from [email protected]

The evidence is clear: several people, at least, have tried to discredit
Mr. Whitaker with the synthetic smear word “nazi.”

With all good wishes,

Kevin Alfred Strom

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From [email protected] Sat Sep 21 10:08:30 PDT 1996
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