Two years ago student radicals shouted down Daniel J. Flynn when he attempted to speak at the University of California at Berkeley. Four years ago, he experienced a similar fate after a conference he helped organize at Columbia University in New York City on conservative ideas and American higher education was disrupted by left-wing faculty and undergraduates who wanted to prevent conservatives Ward Connerly, Dinesh D'Souza and others from speaking on their Ivy League campus.
But such experiences are par for the course to Flynn, who is executive director of Accuracy in Academia, a Washington think tank that keeps an eye on the excesses of American higher education--a job that keeps him and his group very busy.
Flynn is author of a new book, Why the Left Hates America, based partly on his experiences on U.S. campuses. But he writes not only about the academic left, as big as that subject is. Flynn also looks at the influence of Hollywood, broadcast and print media, and other arenas of radical influence.
The book's subtitle, Exposing the Lies That Have Obscured Our Nation's Greatness, reveals much about its author's intentions and his underlying patriotism. "It's knee-jerk anti-Americanism that I try to expose in the book," Flynn tells INSIGHT. "Programmed, automatic, reflexive anti-Americanism. If there were logical reasons for hating America, I wouldn't have written this book."
INSIGHT: When did you first become aware of how much the left hates America?
Daniel J. Flynn: While at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in my sophomore year, when a series of demands were put forth by student activists at UMass. They wanted the school to get rid of the Minuteman, a symbol of Revolutionary War patriotism, as the nickname of the sports teams, and they wanted to name the library in honor of W.E.B. Du Bois.
The Minuteman demand was ridiculous. They objected that the symbol of the school was a "racist, sexist white man with a gun."
But discovering what was back of the Du Bois demand took a little investigation. Like most others, I thought Du Bois was some kind of early version of Martin Luther King, a civil-rights hero. I found that he was nothing of the sort. In fact, he disagreed with Martin Luther King on most of the tenets of the civil-rights movement. Du Bois apparently hated America, and he called [Josef] Stalin a great, courageous man. He renounced his U.S. citizenship and moved to Kwame Nkrumah's Marxist hellhole in Ghana.
Du Bois joined the Communist Party, and in 1959 he won the Lenin Peace Prize. That same year, a national holiday was celebrated in his honor in Red China. The idea that an American university would honor W.E.B. Du Bois despite this record and at the height of the Cold War struck me as odd, if not bizarre.
Q: Was there any organized effort on the UMass campus at the time to oppose these demands?
A: I was the movement. You're looking at it [laughs].
Q: Who was making the demands?
A: It was a group of radical students, backed by leaf-wing administrators and faculty, and the higher-ups in the administration were all too willing to comply with the demands--or at least with the Du Bois demand. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed with regard to renaming the school's mascot. The Minuteman is still the nickname of the University of Massachusetts. Our newspaper there was called The Minuteman, and to lampoon the radicals we put out a special issue called The Minuteperson, which got a lot of attention.
Q: In your new book, you list a number of what you call "the roots of anti-Americanism." They include Communist Party activism, relativism, cultural Marxism and multiculturalism. You show how each has played a significant role in encouraging anti-Americanism on the left. Which of these do you think did the greatest damage and was the most responsible?
A: I think the most lasting was that of the Communists. …