Speaking in front of the American flag in McGraw 165, Dan Flynn, author of Why the Left Hates America, explained his classification of the “Left” and his view of its ideology to an audience of about 70 people last night.
To clarify his viewpoint, Flynn first defined what he meant by the Left. He said he chose that word, rather than “liberal” or “Democrat,” very specifically.
“It’s not called Why Democrats Hate America. It’s not called Why Liberals Hate America,” he said. “When I think of Left, I think of Noam Chomsky.”
After asking audience members to name prominent liberals, Flynn illustrated his differentiation between liberals and the Left.
Describing Hillary Clinton, Flynn said, “She is [more] in agreement with the current head of the Oval Office than she is in agreement with Noam Chomsky or Gore Vidal.”
He said that he focused on this group of people because they have disproportionate influence on places like college campuses, even though they make up no more than 10 percent of the American population. He quoted surveys reporting the disparate numbers of Democrat professors over Republican professors, sometimes a ratio as high as 25:1.
“The Kremlin had more diversity than that,” he said.
In the question-and-answer session, when asked why he quoted statistics about Democrat professors rather than Leftist professors after making distinctions between the two, Flynn said that statistics aren’t available to measure the proportion of Leftist professors.
He said that a focus on diversity creates a college history department “that looks like the United Nations, but thinks like a San Francisco coffeehouse.”
To introduce the rest of his speech, he played a clip from Monty Python’s Life of Brian showing John Cleese as a member of a revolutionary group in ancient Judea asking “What has Rome ever done for us?” In response, his own political allies offer a variety of positive answers, ranging from public health to aqueducts.
After the clip, Flynn commented, “America has its own People’s Front of Judea and they call themselves the Left.”
He explained that the Left ignores America’s positive accomplishments and views everything American in a very negative light. He recounted a number of incidents after Sept. 11 when universities forced their employees to remove American flags from the workplace and also mentioned Cynthia McKinney’s choice as a Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of ’56 Professor.
Commenting on McKinney’s statement that President Bush knew about Sept. 11 beforehand, he said, “You say something like that in normal society, you’re laughed at. You say that in academia and you get offered a job.”
He went on to describe his opposition to many of the people protesting the war in Iraq. He said that he himself was skeptical of the war, but disliked the protesters’ tactics.
“Waving the sickle and hammer at a peace rally. [It’s] like having Charlie Manson at a humanitarian rally,” he said. “Activism isn’t group therapy.”
He said that these type of actions, which included posters proclaiming “Bush is a Nazi,” actually “repulsed” the majority of the American public rather than garner sympathy toward the antiwar cause. He also played audio clips of himself interviewing some of these protesters, one of whom said, “The United States is like a stuck-up little bitch. … 9/11 was like breaking a nail.”
Countering this negative attitude, Flynn offered a number of examples of positive American accomplishments. He focused on three main areas: medicine, immigration and freedom.
After listing a number of developments in modern medicine in the United States, he moved onto America’s historical policy on immigration and attacked people who claim America is xenophobic.
He said that 60 percent of the world’s immigrants from 1820 to 1930 came to America, and pointed out that the governor of the largest state in the United States is an immigrant. “This has been the most welcoming country in the history of the world,” he said.
He also criticized people who focus on the fact that the Constitution excluded people from voting. “What was unique about the founding was that anyone was allowed to vote,” he said. “Most people in the world today have no say in who their rulers are.”
Flynn further faulted people who compare America with an unrealistic ideal.
“Instead of comparing America to the Candyland in your head, compare it to the existing countries,” he said.
He then gave several examples of persecution around the world that the United States is free of, such as dowry killings in India and genital mutilation in Africa.
“To put all of your energy into bashing this one country is not seeing the forest for the trees,” he said.
After finishing his speech, he opened the floor to questions from the audience. He addressed issues varying from possible bias in universities to American imperialism.
In particular, he answered several questions about the influence of radical liberals as opposed to radical conservatives.
Flynn said that generally, conservatives ignore their most radical contingents, but liberals venerate theirs. “People on the right who are crackpots who hate their country are condemned. On the left, they are venerated,” he said. He cited examples such as Noam Chomsky, who said that “the U.S. is the leading terrorist country in the world” but is a bestselling author and a professor at MIT.
Flynn ended his speech on a positive note, saying, “I would submit to you that Americans love their country, not just because it is our country, but because it is a lovely country.”
Although certainly willing to interact during the question-and-answer session, the audience seemed to have mixed reactions to Flynn’s opinions.
One consistent criticism of his speech by liberals in the audience was that his definition of the Left excluded most liberals.
“You’ve made it impossible for me to identify with the group you’ve described,” said Ben Rockey-Harris ’04 during the question-and-answer session.
In contrast, other audience members agreed with most of Flynn’s opinions and applauded his viewpoints.
“I was expecting a logical, intelligent, articulate criticism of the liberal bias in academia. It exceeded my expectations,” said Meghan O’Neill ’04. “I think his speaking at Cornell is a wonderful opportunity for this University.”
Nick LaPage ’05, vice-chair of the Cornell Republicans, expressed similar sentiments. “I really liked how he was able to basically show how there’s a very small fringe of the country who has influence disproportionate to their numbers,” he said.
The Cornell Review sponsored the speech.
Archived article by Shannon Brescher