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Dan Flynn Liveblogging

Hey everybody,

It’s 8:08 pm in beautiful Eugene, OR. I’ll be liveblogging Dan Flynn’s speech on “Why the Left Hates America.” He’s coming on the stage, so let’s begin…

Dan says that there is a difference between “Liberals,” “Democrats” and the “Far-left.” He asks the crowd what some examples of liberals are… the crowd responds with “Kerry,” “Hillary,” “Jesus,” etc.

Update 8:17
Flynn tells us that the far-left only makes up about 10% of the population, but makes a joke that Eugene is “the belly of the beast” and that the far-left makes up perhaps 90% of the population here. “The buzzword is diversity” at the University of Oregon, he says. “The kind of diversity you’re going to get, is a group that wants to look like the United Nations.”

Flynn points out that nearly (perhaps all) universities had a faculty campaign donations ratios heavily in favor of Kerry rather than Bush, pointing out that Dartmouth and Oregon had ratios of Kerry-Bush that equalled infinity

Berkley is “the Rome of leftists” in the country, he says. Flynn tells the crowd that he was mooned in Berkeley. He tells the audience, “please don’t moon me. *laughs* [..] I’m serious about that. *laughs*”

Update 8:22
Says that he went to a Black Panther rally for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Tells people that he was attacked by people, but was able to beat them off because he was bigger than them. Makes a pretty funny joke about aging leftists attacking him, most of the crowd laughs.

“It’s a good idea to start things out with a joke. […] So rather than tell you a joke, I brought along a video clip that I want to play. It’s from Monty Python’s Life of Brian […] Not the most conservative movie in the world. […] It’s from a group that calls itself the People’s Front of Judea.” Plays the clip, which talks about what the Romans gave the Jews… including irrigation, medicine, education, aqueducts, public baths. “What have the Roman’s ever done for us,” Cleese asks.

Update 8:26
“America has its own People’s Front of Judea, it’s called the left,” Flynn says.”A few months after 9-11, we met John Walker Lindh. I’m not sure if we can call him a leftist. […] He went to a high school where the students make their own curriculum. Who needs teachers?”

“What has America ever done for anybody,” Flynn quotes Lindh as having said. He tells the crowd that he wants to give us the answer tonight. Also tells us that he’s interviewed over a thousand different leftists at various rallys. Quotes a New Mexico professor as having said that “anyone who blows up the Pentagon has earned(?) my vote.”

Update 8:30
Flynn tells the crowd that he didn’t think going to war in Iraq was a very good idea. And he thinks the reason the war in Iraq started was because the protestors were so shrill, so offensively left-wing. “It must have been cathartic to make so [crazy] a statement.”

“The purpose of protest is to win over policy-makers.” Who are you going to win over when you hold up a sign that says “we support terrorists who shoot their own officers,” he asks, presumably meaning soldiers.

The first heckler speaks up, saying that the peace movement “kept you out of Vietnam.” Flynn responds, saying that “I was born in 1973, man. Something else kept me out of Vietnam.”

“It’s a very strange peace movement that we have.”

Now he’s about to play some audio clips…

Update 8:35 (Olly)

I’m not going to focus on the content so much, because life is too short.

Flynn’s technical assistant to the rescue. The audio clips are pretty much what you would expect: silly people saying silly things. How much longer is this going to last? Oh, he’s about to mention ANSWER.

My problem with Flynn is that, while he’s giving an amiable enough performance, it would be just as easy to stand up there and quote a bunch of horrible assholes from the other side. On the other hand, looking around the hall at the stony faces, this might be exactly what they need to hear, so I’m conflicted on this one. ANSWER, Workers World Party, blah. Yes, they’re bad.

“What’s the matter with being a worker?” asks this annoying old bastard in my row, loudly. If we are suddenly cut off here, it is because I have thrown the laptop at him.

Ward Churchill! Holla! Alas, nobody in the audience seems to have heard of him. I’m sure they’d be all for him.

Update 8:40
Oh, we’re on to immigration, something I take some interest in. One country has taken in apparently 60% of all immigrants between the years of 1820 and the early 1900s.

“Sweden!” says some asshole. Oh, wait, that one was me. The chair-elect of the College Republicans gives me an “et tu, Brute?” look. Flynn is absolutely right on this one, but the chuckles continue.

Tiananmen Square. Utter silence. Flynn brings up the fact that the demonstrators being run over by tanks were holding up the Declaration of Independence. “Just like Kent State!” says some asshole. I had not heard this about Kent State.

This is beginning to deteriorate. People are making more hostile comments. I am feeling bad for saying “Sweden!” back when it was relatively quiet. The general format of the talk is now apparent: Flynn says that America is not, really, that bad of a place, and sundry assholes in the crowd make asinine comparisons along the lines of “Tiananmen Square = Kent State”. I hope the pie-throwing contingent has shown up.

Update 8:42
A guessing session as to which of the first thirteen colonies originally allowed women to vote devolves into anarchy.

Flynn, perhaps rashly, refers to the state of affairs in his audience members’ heads as “a Candyland game”. Audible bridling at this. “Let’s compare America to countries that actually exist!” he suggests. China is horrible for various reasons; there are dowry killings in India; I am tempted beyond belief to shout “Just like at Kent State!”

People are getting unruly. “Totally irrelevant!” some asshole shouts. “HOW MANY DOWRY KILLINGS WERE THERE IN AMERICA LAST YEAR?” asks Flynn, with the air of a man making a telling point.

Update 8:45
Why can’t this guy just cut to the chase, seems to be the vibe. “Why does the left hate America?” shouts someone. “Shut up” shouts some girl. Everyone applauds. Flynn adeptly weaves this into a feelgood moment about campus tolerance, and everyone feels good about themselves for a minute. Bo-ring! Come on, assholes, you can do better than this.

Thirty seconds later, the asshole in my row shouts something about Fox News, and I am happy again.

Update 8:50
“Why does the left hate America?” Flynn asks, by way of winding up. “They’re jealous!” says some prankster.

Flynn makes the Horowitzian point that black Americans do not, actually, live in unimaginable squalor for the most part. Anathema to this crowd. Someone nearby is vocal about her disbelief that he just said that. Flynn wonders why immigrants from, say, Haiti, bother coming to this terrible racist hellhole. “Haven’t they read their Howard Zinn?” he asks. Dead silence.

Closing quote comes from Edmund Burke, described as a “fellow Irishman”. Strange, Flynn doesn’t sound Irish. As with much of the talk, it makes a simple point that is, on its own terms, indisputable, and goes over like a lead balloon with about half of the room.

Update 8:52
Questions! Awesome! Let’s get ready to rumble!

First guy accuses Flynn of wasting 45 minutes of his time. Why does the left hate America, he wants to know. Flynn responds by comparing America favorably to the USSR. This, I feel, will not satisfy our questioner. He may demand a refund. “America stands against the Left’s ideals,” Flynn points out. This is going to piss off a lot of people here who think of the Left as being them and their amiable young friends and not, say, Noam Chomsky.

“So, Noam Chomsky hates religion and capitalism. Does that mean he hates everything about America?” asks a stoned-sounding guy. Jesus Christ. The response compares America favorably to Cambodia and Cuba and Afghanistan. Again, it’s just not going to play, Dan, although I wish it would.

Update 9:00
“What makes the far right better than the far left?” – good question. Flynn, mercifully, doesn’t try to duck it. What he does do is apologize for it – his far-right representatives are Klansmen and hill people, and his far left representatives are Hollywood actors.

Flynn makes a strong close on this one: “The reason there is my book and not a book called ‘Why the right hates America’ is that – for the most part – the left embraces their loonies and the right rejects them.” Applause.

Next questioner wants to talk about the Romans. My fingers hurt. This guy isn’t getting blogged. In fact, here’s Ian again.

Update 9:09 (Ian)
There’s a question about his Martha Burke statement, where the questioner says that these sorts of problems aren’t anything in comparison to genital mutilation. The questioner says that he doesn’t think this is a huge issue compared to many others, including school lunch programs being cut. Flynn’s response, “the government doesn’t owe your kid brother a lunch.” Applause and yelling. The questioner responds, saying that it is a real problem, etc. etc. Flynn responds, again saying that the government doesn’t owe his family anything. He says that he doesn’t think charity’s a good system.

Questioner asks what the solution for poverty is if government won’t step in to help people. “Freedom,” Flynn responds. Howling and disbelief. “The difference is freedom,” giving examples of Communist and fascist countries as countries that are not free and have horrible human rights and nutrition.

Next question is “I was wondering if you’d call on a woman tonight.” *Laughs* And then he calls on a woman. She asks about what he thinks of the European system, where they have embraced liberal economics yet have plenty of government-run social programs. “They’re not better off than we are,” Flynn responds.

A man stands up, saying that he is one of the divers from Blind Man’s Bluff. Apparently this is very important to the man, but he doesn’t have a question. He sits down happy in the knowledge that people know he’s a hero.

Next, health care. Surprise, Flynn isn’t for nationalized health care. People in the audience are incensed … INCENSED! They haven’t heard of Medicare…

‘In socialism, everyone is a loser.”

A girl in the back asks if we should be satisfied as first-world citizens. Flynn counters that the complaints lobbed at America, however, are reflexive. America is still the best place in the world to be an American. Redundancy acknowledged. Brain hurts. So, so tired. Everybody else is already at the bar. Bastards.

Update 9:15

Update 9:16
WHEW! LIGHTS COME BACK ON! Nobody has been assassinated.

Old crazy man from Olly’s row asks question of sorts. It’s pretty good: “I love my country, Ace! … I love my country but I can’t trust my government.”

Some horrible, horrible asshole screams, “Then you should get the hell out.” He does.

Update 9:20 (Olly)
A homosexual atheist over the age of 40 wants to ask a question. He’s friendly, and eventually gets around to asking whether Flynn feels he’s being too much of a polarizing influence. Flynn, thank God, says that well, it’s a book title, and brings up, thank God, the outcry on the right against Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson post 9/11. He also characterises Christopher Hitchens as a dissident of the left, which these days will come as a surprise to Hitch.

Last question. Why did Flynn look at donations to Kerry to find influence of sinister leftism on campus, and not, say, Nader? Flynn is willing to give a little ground on this one.

We’re done, and now the crazy people start shouting questions. Nothing coherent makes it over to this side of the room. People start shouting requests for clarification. Flynn wraps it up with “Americans need to face the truth about themselves, no matter how pleasant the truth may be.” Not everybody is mollified by this.

That’s it. I’m out. Inaccuracies and typos to be cleared up later. (written by Ian, Olly, and Tyler)

Update 10:26
Prose cleaned up at bar. Any obvious errors removed. Presence at bar inevitably results in new inaccuracies being added. We’ll get them tomorrow.

  1. Andy D. says:

    Truth is the basis of positive human relationships. Society cannot exist without truth and promises. This is the basis of contracts in a praxeological sense. Would you have a friend if the dude lied to you all the time? Of course not, and you definatly wouldn’t have a business relationshop with them. Capitalism needs contract enforcement, and it will come about naturally without courts because no one will do business with someone who is dishonest. (For the most part). In history of economic evolution, capitalism in inevitable. It is what is most efficeint and what every society in the world has used. Even children understand trade and savings.

    Religion has nothing to do with the creation of contracts. Business/Trade was before Jesus.

  2. Scott Austin says:

    I am not saying that other complicating factors and influences have shaped the economic evolution of the world as a whole. YOu can’t look at, for example, the history of the Angles, Jutes and Saxons and their conflict lifestyle and not see how it affected their tribal legal systems and then not see the stark re-direction with the introduction of Augustine, and the slow adoption of what we know refer to as “common law”. While I agree there were aspects of common law that were influenced by Germanic and Celtic tribal means, Christianity can’t be taken out of the historical review. What is a common law marriage defined as? According to the Canton, a man and a woman living in the same home for a certrain number of days, bla bla bla. Anyway, I’m weary and in need of my bed. Later

  3. Clint says:

    So you think that contract enforcement has its roots in religious backgrounds.

    You base that statement on the fact that the Asian world doesn’t have contract enforcement, nor did they have roots in the same religious background as the western world.

    Is this the, “Bananna’s are fruit, Bananna’s are yellow, therefor all fruit is yellow.” argument?

    I won’t deny that there is a chance you are right, but I will say there are probably more factors involved than western vs eastern religion, and you having lived there with first hand knowledge probably gives you more of a right to speculate than me.

    Its just anytime someone tells me I’m true to my word because of religion, I scoff at it. I’m not an atheist, so much as I just hate religion.

  4. Timothy says:

    Having a legal system largely influenced by religion, which I think all cultures do, is very different than having an official state religion. Or properly separating religion from the secular domain of the post-enlightenment nation-state.

    I think it’s perfectly valid to attempt to draw a bright line between the domain of religion and the domain of the state, which is essentially what the Enlightenment brought about. Keep in mind also that many of the US founders were agnostics, unitarians, or atheists. A lot of early American political thought is obviously influenced by Hume, a noted atheist. Locke’s influence is also quite obvious, he believed that we could know with certainty that God exist, and also believed that the church and the state should be separate realms.

    That the US Constitutional system was influenced by Judeo-Christian religion is undeniable, to say that it is wholly the result of said influence, I think, is pretty hyperbolic.

  5. Scott says:

    Ok, lay off me. All I meant was, the understanding of honoring your word, i.e., if I say I’ll do something I will, comes, I think, from religion, or from a religious perspective. That’s not to say that pure economics and self interest don’t also play into it, but hey, go and live in a country whose society has existed and developed over several thousands of years more than European society, and whose fabric does not rely on one end of a business deal honoring its word to do something, and then tell me that the Western approach to law, from the British notion of the Common Law on, is not largely influenced by religion. I look at it and say it is, but I have said from my first statement on this issue that it was merely my opinion and my perspective after living in Asia for the past year and a half and interacting with Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Vietnamese, if you can believe it, business people. They all seem to think that Western ideals of business, from conracts all the way down the line, is based on a Judeo/Christian understanding of the world, and so far as I have seen, I don’t disagree. I state emphatically, however, that if there is anything I have learned in the last year abroad, it is that I don’t know a whole hell of a lot, so I welcome correction, or even a “G-d you’re a dumb-ass.” The pride I had a year ago is no longer there. I understand I’m an idiot, and the only thing I can do is try to learn as much as I can and better myself through experience and education. If that’s not good enough, I guess I’m sorry.

  6. Clint says:

    Right, contracts and everything else in American society are wholely based on religion.

    I’m not saying you can’t point to “In God We Trust” printed on every piece of currency America has made in the last 100 years as proof that “religion permeates every facet of life,” I’m just saying shut up Scott.

  7. Timothy says:

    No one will ever love you Scott.

  8. Danimal says:

    Did I miss something in Sunday school about contracts?

  9. Scott says:

    I have only one substantive criticism Ian, and that is on your idea of the separation of church and State. And before any of you who know me presume that I am going to posit that the Christian cross be branded on students asses, let me pre-empt and assure you that I am not. I would merely like to point out that religion permeates every facet of life, no matter where you are. Christian ideology and dogma, as well as Judaic doctrine, eminate from American law and life. Something as basic and simple as economics and the concept of Contract enforcement has its roots not, as some would surmize, in pure economics, but rather in reigious experience. Live in Asia for a year and see how contracts are viewed (In Chinese, the word “contract” means literally “suggestion” and they are not at all enforced) and how the economy still manages to rumble on and grow, and then look at the very fabric of how Americans and, indeed Europeans, do business every day. Look me in the face when you have done that and tell me that the State really is separated from the church. I doubt very much that you will be able to, but then that’s just my inclination. Oh, and for Melissa, Aisan women are hot and they love me!:)

  10. Casey says:

    Very astute Ian. I read about half of “Why the Left Hates America” (which I got from the library) and was thoroughly unimpressed. The contention that the not-so-far left embraces the far-left while the not-so-far right doesn’t embraces the far-right is BS, and Flynn knows it. Even-minded people reject extremism, morons and people with anger problems often don’t, period. Flynn throws bombs to sell books, just like Frog feigns poverty to sell books. Both are exceedingly boring.

  11. Ian says:

    Apologies for not posting my thoughts earlier…

    It was an interesting event. Flynn seemed like a fairly rational and level-headed guy, hardly what I expected. I agreed with most of the points that he made, although I don’t feel that he adequately explained the answer to the title of his book. Probably the most telling example of “the lefts” anti-Americanism that he gave was the self-defeating nature of the anti-war protestors. Flynn pointed out that the venom many protesters had against American troops really hurt the true anti-war cause, a cause he actually supported. Another great example to support his argument manifested itself repeatedly during his speech. Hecklers interrupted him at numerous times, usually by spouting idiotic smart-ass comments with absolutely no substance. As Flynn aptly pointed out, allowing people with opposing views to speak freely is hardly the far-lefts brand of tolerance.

    Flynns other good points are far too numerous to list here, so allow me to delve into what I disagreed with.

    He began the speech by trying to make it clear that when he talked about the left, he was not talking about most Democrats and American welfare liberals. Instead, he was talking about that moonbat far-left, a clarification which I suppose would have hurt sales of his book. The problem, however, is that henceforth his characterizations were far too broad, as if hed forgotten his original statement. His excuse for this graying of the American left was that they embraces their crazy elements while the American right denounces its own. Theres a great deal of truth to this, but when he uses the examples of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, it just goes to show that there isnt enough repudiation of far-right elements.

    Perhaps the largest gap in his arguments was in the answer to the question posed by the title of his book. His only explanation for why the left hates America is simply that Americas success disproves the far-lefts political and economic theories. Hes absolutely right on this point, but thats not a full enough explanation. Americas success also disproves paleo-conservative theories about sex before marriage, separation of church and state, immigration, and racial integration, all of which have been prevalent in this country during its period of highest economic growth. Yet you dont see people claiming that Jerry Falwell hates America, only that he was once repudiated.

    But those were the substantive problems with his argument. His stylistic problems were far more glaring.

    In a time when this country is at war, what is needed is unity or at least efforts towards unity. As a questioner brought up, Flynns speech and book are divisive rather than unifying. The very wording of his books title means that right-wingers will be drawn in while left-wingers will be turned off. Liberal readers who might otherwise be convinced by the substance of Flynns arguments will instead further entrench themselves.

    This problem was also evident in his speech and during the Q&A session. While I can understand why he probably felt that he was in a hostile environment, there was no reason to give assholish answers to most of the questioners (although a few of them, particularly the hecklers, deserved it.) The first questioner, for instance, is a guy who I know. He, like me, was unsatisfied with Flynns answer to the question posed by the books title. Flynns answer to the question was prefaced by a put down of the questioner hardly a civil way to respond and hardly a good way to convince a dubious audience of his arguments merits.

    Flynn would have done a far greater service to this country and his own cause by writing a book and giving a speech with a liberal rather than conservative audience in mind. Conservatives already think the far-left is crazy. They dont need this belief reinforced; publications like the Eugene Weekly and Insurgent do a good enough job of this on their own. Preaching to the choir may give him better book sales, but it will do little to help unify this country in a time of war.

  12. Tyler says:

    The guy’s young. Give him time. He seems pretty proud of having been mooned already, though.

  13. Casey says:

    I think you actually have to be somewhat important to have food thrown at you by leftist. Flynn ain’t Kristol or Buchanan. I’m sure he would love to have that kind of influence though.

  14. Ian says:

    OK, the original post has been updated with corrections and formatting fixes. Liveblogging is a new thing to all of us, so apologies for any initial inaccuracies. I’ll post again tomorrow (today) with my observations from the event.

  15. Big M says:

    Actually, you guys were about right on with most of this.

    My role there was, quite simply, to prevent Mr. Flynn from getting a pie. And I was hoping someone would do it, cause I was in the mood to tackle someone and read them the riot act.

    But, things went as well as they could have considering that it was nearly a full house (some people just didn’t want to sit by themselves). I am actually surprised that more people were not there heckling him…even though there was that irrelevant Native American guy who was in the military trying to goad Flynn into discussing. (This guy obviously didn’t know that about 80% of the Native Americans in the northern part of the USA in the mid-late 1700s were Algonquin or Mohegan, aka primarily Canadian.)

    All in all, it went well.

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