Susie Davidson, Contributor
Boston-based journalist and poet

Flynn Also (Mis)Spoke Last Summer At Massachusetts Synagogue



Rabbi Jonathan Hausman (l) looks on last August as Michael T. Flynn speaks at Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Mass.





Disgraced NSA Retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who resigned last week over potentially felonious lying to the FBI, made a speech last summer at Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Mass., where he also had a hard time with the truth. Flynn’s Aug. 23 talk, entitled “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies,” was part of the Hausman Memorial Speaker Series, hosted by ATC’s Rabbi Jon Hausman.

Previous speakers have included Daniel Pipes, whose Middle East Forum was called out by the Center for American Progress as a major contributor to the Islamophobia movement in America, and controversial anti-Islam and anti-EU Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whom the UK Daily Express has called the “Trump of the Netherlands.” Controversy ensued over ATC’s November 2 program, which featured noted Islamaphobic activists Frank Gaffney Jr.Tom Trento, and William G. “Jerry” Boykin, as well as former congresswoman, Presidential candidate and Tea Party advocate Michele Bachmann.

Over 100 interfaith leaders who signed and circulated a letter of protest included Vito Nicastro, Associate Director of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston; Rabbi David Lerner of Temple Emunah in Lexington, the president of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis; the Rev. Burns Stanfield, president of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization; the Rev. Liz Walker, pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church; the Rev. Jeffrey Brown of Twelfth Baptist Church; the clergy of Temple Israel, Boston’s largest Reform congregation; the Rev. Nancy Taylor, senior minister of Old South Church, and the Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III of Trinity Church in Copley Square.

“It was important to help organize an interfaith letter against hate speakers who were presenting at a local synagogue,” Lerner told HuffPo. “At a time when we should be building bridges with the local Muslim community, there is a segment of the Jewish world which would rather spew hate,” he lamented. “This goes against our Jewish values, and should be called out for what it is.”


Rabbi David Lerner, President, Mass. Board of Rabbis

Outside the event, signatories stood with members of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a peaceful protest attended by area Muslim attorneys, physicians, educators, police officers and veterans who offered hugs and doughnuts.

“We all face a choice: we can be on the side of those who push forward an agenda of hate, or be on the side of dialogue, trying to strengthen our bonds and support moderate Muslims,” said Lerner.

Trouble seems to follow Flynn, who was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency for two years before being forced out in April, 2014 over his aggressive management style, termed “disruptive” by a Pentagon colleague.

Flynn is also currently under Army investigation for accepting fees in late 2015 to speak at a Moscow state TV event and attend the channel’s 10-year anniversary gala, where he sat next to President Vladimir Putin. Authorization is required for retired officers to accept funding from a foreign government, and following a request by Democratic lawmakers for a Defense Department investigation, the Pentagon has thus far failed to uncover such authorization. Flynn may therefore have violated the Constitution.

In his introduction at ATC, Hausman called Flynn “Someone who many people in the intelligence community call the foremost intelligence man from the military in the past four years.”

Two months later, on Nov. 22, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski wrote that in Stoughton, Flynn “called Islamism a ‘vicious cancer.”

In the video of the speech, which is posted on the CNN report, Flynn indeed said that this “cancer” is “inside the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet, and it ‘has to be excised.’” He also compared Islamism to Nazism, fascism, imperialism and communism. Watch the speech here:

According to CNN, Flynn then repeated a discredited claim, popular two years ago on far right blogs, that Florida Democrats, in a 2011 legislative action, voted to impose Islamic Sharia law at the state and local level. The charge was deemed as “Pants on Fire” by the independent fact-checking organization PolitiFact.

During his ATC speech, Flynn, a registered Democrat from a Democratic family who nonetheless was a keynote speaker during the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention, was asked if President Obama was a Muslim. His response was evasive. “Is Obama doing this intentionally or is he incompetent and is he a Muslim?” he responded. “This is an individual who has an ideology, and he has apologized for all the ill will of the United States of America over our history, for who we have been. He has. The apology tour.” PolitiFact has also debunked the false notion of an “apology tour” at the beginning of the Obama administration.

“I do believe that historic leaders show up on our stage periodically to play that role that needs to be played,” Flynn speculated, noting that Abraham Lincoln was one of them. He continued: “Now, I don’t know if that’s what’s stepping up, but it’s certainly a different type of leader that’s now in the political fray....”

That statement has certainly proven prescient. As for a Lincoln comparison, however, the less said, the better.

Flynn closed by stating that the current President had “zero” leadership skills. “There are more leadership skills in a Sergeant E-5 [one with under two years of experience] than there were in this current President when he first ran for President,” he proclaimed, to very loud applause from the ATC audience.

But there is more to Flynn they may not have known. On Nov. 18, CNN’s KFile chronicled varied instances of Flynn’s routine sharing and retweeting of fake news and incendiary postings from alt-righters and anti-Semites. He also engaged in Muslim bashing.

In July, he retweeted an anti-Semitic message. Upon this discovery, he deleted it and called it an error.

Also that month, he linked to a tweet that falsely stated that Hillary Clinton was “wearing [a] hijab in solidarity with islamic terrorists.” In actuality, in 2009, the then-Secretary of State had covered her head out of diplomatic courtesy while visiting a mosque in Pakistan.

“This is not showing respect. This is showing disrespect for American Values and Principles. #NeverHillary,” Flynn typed.

During the same month he spoke in Stoughton, Flynn retweeted a Breitbart article by its former editor Milo Yiannopoulos, an alt-right spokesman banned from Twitter last year (and just stripped of his keynote speaking slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference following the release of tapes advocating for sexual relationships between “younger boys and older men”) that proclaimed “Hillary Clinton Is About To Embarass(sic) Herself On The Alt-Right.” The K File report also documented three times that Flynn tagged tweets of the alt-right, anti-Semitic Jared Wyland, who has cited the “Liberal Jewish media” in his postings. And in late October, Flynn retweeted an infamous fabrication that Clinton was involved in a child sex trafficking ring centered around a Washington pizzeria; and promoted a false claim that United Nations Agenda 21, a sustainable development project plan, would create a unified church that prohibited Christianity, and stated that nationalism was the only way to stop Clinton.

Just prior to the election, Flynn helped spread a false story about the NYPD’S alleged uncovering of evidence from Anthony Weiner’s laptop, evidence that would supposedly “put Hillary (Clinton) and her crew away for life.”


Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn speaks at Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Mass.

These, and continuing revelations, portray Flynn as antagonistic, underhanded, and disturbingly truth-averse. Further, his disregard for governmental protocol has not served him well. Given what we know now, the Hausman Memorial Speaker Series and its adherents ought to considering choosing, and perhaps vetting, their honored guests — and their online associates — more wisely in the future.