Ayn Rand is a very divisive figure. It seems that people either reflexively love her or reflexively abhor her. Well, call me an Ayn Rand revisionist, but my position on her is a bit more nuanced than either “she was the greatest philosopher-novelist ever” or “she is absolutely horrible, evil, and sucks at philosophy.” I would say that I am neutral on Ayn Rand, I see the good and the bad. However, there are two things I have a strong opinion on when it comes to Rand.
1. Even if you hate her, actually, especially if you hate her, read her works, not all of them, not even Atlas Shrugged if you can’t stomach her. If you really hate her the best service for your hatred is to pick up a copy of, say, The Romantic Manifesto, and read it. Engage with the text. If you love her you should already be doing this. The argument is “I don’t need to sniff poop to know that it stinks,” yeah, whatever, read her if you want to bash her. You might find something, even something small you can agree with her on (though if you abhor her, you probably won’t). This engage with the text argument stands for everyone. Hate Hitler? Read Mein Kampf so that you can go line by line and disprove it. Hate Marx? Read Das Capital. It will serve you well in fighting their arguments. Read them, then fight them.
2. Ayn Rand was deliberately divisive. Don’t believe me? Well, I hardly think calling Anna Karenina “the most evil book” ever, is meant to be a guarded, neutral, academic statement. If you hate Ayn Rand, she probably be happy because that means she’s gotten to you.