Anthem: The Graphic Novel Will Be Generation Z’s Gateway Drug to Liberty

Anthem: The Graphic Novel, by Jennifer Grossman and Dan Parson, Atlas Society, 79 pages, $12.95

The Atlas Society has quickly become one of the fastest growing pro-liberty organizations in the country through collaborations with libertarian student grousps such as Students for Liberty and, at times, the occasionally un-libertarian Turning Point USA. 

Without fail, students approach the brightly decorated table featuring stickers, pens, and pamphlets from The Atlas Society with their stories of how Ayn Rand inspired someone they know. For some, reading Ayn Rand was the gateway drug to libertarianism. Some rejected certain aspects of Rand’s philosophy but embraced the general themes of individualism and achievement. 

My grandparents, who read Rand in the late 1950’s and 60’s, were two of those people. They encountered Rand as graduate students at Columbia University in New York after facing routine discrimination in  higher education in the South. Rand’s libertarianism didn’t quite stick with them, but her words on individualism, which inspired her thoughts on racism as “the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism” certainly influenced them to break racial barriers in careers in science, law, and academia. 

The world has changed immensely since 1957, the year Atlas Shrugged was published, but Rand’s work remains just as important. YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and the creative capital from Hollywood remain fruits of capitalism’s bountiful harvest, but expressing Rand’s ideas beyond lengthy novels, white papers, and lectures is still a creative challenge. 

Anthem: The Graphic Novel (2018) by Jennifer Grossman, Atlas Society CEO, and illustrator Dan Parsons is a spectacular start.

Blending provocative, stunning illustrations with words from Rand’s original 1938 novella, Parsons and Grossman share the story of a dystopian society that celebrates the equality of groups rather than the success and achievements of the individual. This society, which is devoid of love and free enterprise, fails miserably.

 In this powerful graphic novel Dan Parson’s illustrations paint a clear and tragic image of what a collectivist society looks like for a generation reared with high-definition television and gaming systems. 

Anthem: The Graphic Novel was also released at the best possible time.

In our politics today, terms like “capitalist” and “individualist” are making a comeback in discussions of political identity – a hopeful turn away from partisan strife towards truly engaging underlying philosophical principles.  

People in Generation Z, like myself, who were born after 1995, should have a special connection to these ideas. After all, we are contributing fresh skills and talents to the workforce, we’re contributing fresh tax dollars into the Treasury, and we’re on the line in the unfortunate event of a new military conflict. Here’s the best news. Generation Z, according to research, will be individualistic, fiscally responsible, and among the most entrepreneurial of any previous generation. 

Will Ayn Rand be the gateway drug for yet another generation to embrace libertarian ideals? I’d argue so.

Leonard Robinson is the editor-in-chief of the UB Post.  

We Just Elected a Baby as President?

Image result for fotus book cover
FOTUS: A Novel, by Kevin Kunundrum, Bancroft Press, 360 pages, $27

Alexander Rhett has not only become self aware, but also has just been elected President of the United States.

Brace yourselves because FOTUS, the latest novel by author Kevin Kunudrum takes readers on a fascinating ride just in time for the 2020 election cycle.

Almost instantly upon reading, we realize that little Alex is a terrible person, but not without one caveat: he is still a baby. However, one cannot deny that Kunudrum is using Rhett’s behavior to draw parallels to current political leaders. The most noticeable of these parallels is between Rett and President Donald Trump from his angry tweets to his slogan of “Make America Greater”. Throughout the novel, Alex is shaped by numerous characters and events, such as his battle with embittered Mallory Blitzen (a clear Hillary Clinton expy); his friendship with the not-so-starving artist, Vincent Van Go-Go; his relationship with the mysterious Florist organization; and his alliance with the leader of the New Black Panthers, Frederick Douglass-Jones. Unlike many real politicians, Alex redeems his public perception and grows as a person and leader signaled by his exit from the womb which is almost metaphorical for his physical growth and maturity as president. 

The novel does an excellent job of capturing the chaos of politics and society. There are many times where the events in the book could be something that happens in real life. 

Kevin Kunundrum, author of  FOTUS, attempts to do the same by pointing out the sheer ridiculousness of our political climate and society, as a whole. Not only is he successful, but he leaves no stone unturned taking on Saturday Night Live, progressives, and even the Rothschild Theory. The most alarming thing of this read is that many of these events would surprise very few if they happened in real life.

As elections approach, one begins to wonder if the timing for this book could have been any more perfect, even if this book was necessary? This leads to the novel’s greatest achievement: making the readers ask themselves has our society become so absurd that it has simply become a parody of itself?

Kezia Robinson is a staff writer and literary critic for the UB Post.

UB Ethics Bowl Wins Regionals; Heads to Atlanta in Spring 2020

Dr. Fred Guy, UB Ethics bowl coach and philosophy professor (l), Daniel Gellasch, JC Lloyd, Jayla- Rae Foster, and Hugh Norko (r). Photo credit: University of Baltimore Office of Government and Public Affairs

UB Ethics Bowl team members will be packing their bags for Atlanta soon as they placed first in the regional ethics bowl contest in Jacksonville, Florida last month.

On November 9, 2019, students Jayla Rae Foster, J.C. Lloyd, Hugh Norko (who is also Baltimore editor for the UB Post), and Daniel Gellasch led the team to an upset victory over schools over schools like Seton Hall, Auburn, and Georgia State. Coming in first place, the four will proceed to nationals in Atlanta in February. 

“I had a big smile and was delighted and in disbelief that we won the whole thing,” said Dr. Fred Guy, the team’s coach for the past 16 years. With a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia and decades of ethics teaching experience, the former Auburn basketball player turned Australian Olympian brings unique skills to the UB Ethics Bowl Team. is almost made for the job of leading the team to victory. 

“Dr. Guy is a very hands off coach but he alwaysd gives constructive feedback,” said Hugh Norko. “He emphasizes authenticity on our team which I think carried the day during the competition.” 

Authenticity came a long way as students faced ethical dilemmas ranging from the student loan crisis to the legalization of marijuana. Initially, team members were concerned that the judges were biased in their selection of the 12 cases that they gave to students. The team, however, decided to remain calm and continue to work diligently.

What does a round in ethics bowl look like? Well, for starters, the match begins with the moderator asking an opening question to the teams with judges presenting follow-up questions. Winners are determined not by who won the argument, but rather by the clarity, thoughtfulness, and systematic nature to their answers while pointing out weaknesses in the opposing team’s analysis of the problem. 

Jayla Rae Foster believes that their decision to remain calm and employing a laid-back, conversational style was crucial to their success. 

“It was so surreal when we were sitting across from Seton Hall in the final round,” explained Foster. “UB is always seen as the underdog, and I think we were all just so proud of one another and so excited.”

Yet, both the team and Dr. Guy felt as if they had “won the Super Bowl” when the University of Baltimore was called as the winners of the regional competition. All of the contestants will know us now like they never did before. 

Kenneth Lyle is a contributing writer at the UB Post.

Town Mountain Comes to Baltimore

Town Mountain Courtesy Photo (Photo Credit: Tony Sheaffer)

Columbia, MD- Bluegrass outfit Town Mountain found themselves guests of the Charm City region at The Soundry in nearby Columbia last month.

On the evening of November 1, locals at The Soundry beamed with excitement as the Asheville-based quintet approached the stage. From the very beginning, the show was high – energy, and it didn’t calm down from start to finish. While The Soundry asks fans to keep their noise to a minimum, as the venue is considered a listening room, the band invited fans to get up, dance and sing along while they played. Of all the concerts I’ve been too, this one was probably one of the most intimate. The band and the crowd were in sync with each other only fueling the band’s already stellar performance.

Town Mountain has been touring across the country, releasing new music, and building a continuously growing fan base for the past fifteen years. Their first album, Original Bluegrass and Roots Country, was released in 2007 and followed by five albums including their latest in 2018, New Freedom Blues. Phil Barker, who is a vocalist and mandolinist, continues to enjoy live performances. “We want a venue to have something for everyone,” said Barker. “We want a space for people who want to get up and dance and enjoy the night that way and also a space for fans that want to sit down and enjoy a drink.” 

The group cites two sources of major influence: country legends like Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and George Jones, and classic rock group The Grateful Dead.

For Barker, the group aims to “redefine a genre”. Many people would scoff at such a goal or consider it to be too ambitious for them. As I listen to their studio work, I can certainly hear the influences they spoke of, but I too hear something unique. The classic bluegrass sound takes a modern twist, one that offers something new and welcome to country music as a whole. Town Mountain extends the realm of what bluegrass is, and their attempt to redefine a genre is not only doable, it is being done. 

In recent months, I have found myself leaving shows – often before the encore. The performers, often, seems as if they lost touch with the audience or each other around the show’s midpoint causing their music as a whole to suffer. 

This was not the case here. 

Not only did I stay for the entire show, but I felt engaged throughout its duration. Their stage presence was exemplary. Each musician was so tightly knit with each other that I could rarely hear a mistake. Being a musician myself, this is a feat that is worthy of commendation. 

For older generations who question the lack of integrity in current popular music, much of their criticism holds true. Town Mountain and artists like them, however, dispel these generalizations by creating new music that captures their uniqueness while remaining loyal to their country roots. 

In short, their show was stellar, and I will be looking forward to the next time they make a stop in the Baltimore area. 

Tony Sheaffer is a staff writer and music critic for the UB Post.