Socialist and communist ideology has crept into American culture and education. At the same time, America is threatened by foreign adversaries, with China’s Communist Party being the greatest opponent of all.
In this exclusive interview with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, we sit down to discuss this watershed moment in America’s history, and what he believes the future holds.
Will this great American experiment into republican governance survive or will it fail?
This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: General Michael Flynn, great to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Gen. Michael Flynn: Thanks, Jan.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, we have to pick up where we left off in the last interview, which has been extremely well-received, with a lot of very interesting comments and questions. I thought I’d start with one of these questions before we get into the deeper philosophical stuff that I’m sure we want to. One of our journalists wanted to know, what do you think is the biggest misconception around this whole legal tribulation that you’ve been through?
Gen. Flynn: [The biggest misconception was] that it was a fair system or a fair process. I think that’s a misconception by a lot of people that have watched it from afar instead of those who have paid great attention to detail from the beginning. This was an unfair process.
The unfairness is not just for me, but the unfairness was toward the American people. The American people, this country, was put through this journey with me and did not deserve that from institutions in our country.
Whether it’s the rule-of-law institutions, which would be on the executive side, or whether it was through the brutality from the legislative side and how they described me, and also through the judiciary component of our government and how that unfolded over the years, it showed the American public those three components of our government— just how much our government has developed into a series of institutions that will treat its own citizens as unfairly and as brutally as possible.
I would just add that people come up to me all the time and they say, “I’m so sorry for what happened to you.” And I always say: “Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t have any pity on me. I don’t have any pity on myself. I don’t feel sorry for myself.” I always tell them, feel sorry for our country and that our country was not given a chance for something that President Trump wanted and deserved to have from the very beginning of his presidency, and actually even before his presidency.
So again, the things we learned through my case were for the entire world to see. The entire world watched this case, and I think that most people who watched it, even from afar, would see this just incredible level of unfairness to a citizen and to all citizens and to the country.
Mr. Jekielek: Does it trouble you that there are still quite a few people out there and even people writing articles—I just read one today actually—that just fundamentally don’t understand, willfully or not willfully, what happened?
Gen. Flynn: Sure, whatever the context of the article is, I stopped at a certain point worrying about what people were saying because they were wrong, and they’ve been proven wrong, and people can say what they want to say. It’s even like saying to the president or saying to some commander on the battlefield, “You need to do this, you need to do that.” Until you have walked in my shoes, and you have been put through the level of scrutiny—frankly, it’s almost like a level of punishment that the government conveys, in my case, on me in a way that should never happen.
Distorting, corrupting, and abusing our own rule-of-law system that I spent the better part of my life—in fact, over 33 years—defending around the world and telling people around the world, “Look at us, be like us, be more like us.” I mean, we’re out there professing to be America, this great beacon of hope, this great light on the hill. We’re actually telling people around the world, “Hey, be more like us,” and all of a sudden, many people who know me are all of a sudden seeing something happening to me, and they’re saying, “Wow, what’s happened to America?”
So until you live in the shoes of someone—you can judge them, you can give them ideas—but until you actually have walked in those shoes, you can’t understand what was going on in terms of decision-making during the periods of time that I had to make really, really tough decisions. And I would say that my decisions were first and foremost for my family. Period.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s one of the things I understood, that the prosecutors threatened your son.
Gen. Flynn: I won’t go into the details of that because I think the case is known, or what I tell people who want to talk about me or want to say something nasty: That’s fine, they can say what they want, go look at the case. Go look at the case. I sit here today, and I’d ask you, have you read some of the more really damning filings that were put in after I made the monumental decision of shifting horses, of jumping from one set of lawyers in this case to another set?
So those people that don’t do that, that frankly have never met me either or only met me for a sound bite, I think that’s unfair. But life is unfair, and I’m okay with that, I can live with that. I know—and people who are close to me know—what’s in my heart. I think the American people have seen that. I believe that because, as we discussed before, the American people have not run away from me, they’ve run toward me.
For whatever reason, I hope that it’s because they see and they know what’s in my heart. And that’s more important to me than anything else because the closest person to me is my wife. We’ve been together forever, and she’s terrific. She knows who I am. I know who I am. I know who she is. And at the end of the day, that’s really all that matters to me.
Mr. Jekielek: You’ve just talked a lot about challenges in our government, the American government. Could you imagine yourself working in government again, given everything that you know and you’ve seen?
Gen. Flynn: No, I can’t imagine. Here’s what I say about working in government or working for the nation or for the country. The decision to do that is very—especially to work at the level that I worked at, so let’s just say the president of the United States said, “I’d like you to come back and do something.” You believe that the president of the United States is asking you because he needs your help, or she needs your help. So that’s a powerful request.
So it’s not a question of imagining or a question of doing, it’s a question of service. And service to the nation is something that I firmly believe in. It doesn’t mean that everybody has to go serve in the army or the Navy or the Air Force and Marine Corps in our military. It doesn’t mean that people have to serve in government.
We have people who serve in all sorts of capacities. And so whatever the calling is that you have—to teach, to be in health care—you have a calling in this business, right? You’re good at it, and you’ve created something that serves an audience, and it serves an audience pretty well.
So my thing is that if I’m called to serve, I have to really faithfully think about it. And certainly my family comes into that equation, probably paramount, but also my faith because I have to understand that, and I hope that the values that I have and that I have in my DNA—I hope that those values are part of the people who are asking me to serve, in this case, let’s say the president of the United States. I have to believe that our values in some way align. If they don’t align, then I would say that it’s harder to imagine.
People can think and wonder “shoulda, coulda, woulda,” [that] type of decision-making. But it is a huge, huge decision. And it’s a decision of service. It’s service to something greater than who you are. And that’s what you really want in everybody who serves our government. You want to believe that they’re there not because they’re trying to get to the next level or they have some personal ambition to do something else. You really want to believe.
Maybe I’m being naive about that, and maybe that’s a weakness in me. It probably is, but you want to believe that people want to serve something greater than they actually are. And that’s not always the case. It certainly wasn’t the case in my returning to government. It wasn’t the case at all returning to government where we discovered through time that our values didn’t align. People in government, they didn’t align; they were actually out of alignment.
You say, “Geez, I’m coming back in to serve the country,” and all of a sudden you realize that you have a bunch of people that are actually not serving the country, they’re serving themselves, and they’re serving something else. I think that we’re still discovering what it is that they serve. I think it’s a dangerous situation when we run into those kinds and types of people in our government, [people] who don’t bend the rules, they break the rules. So it’s about service at the end of the day, not imagination.
Mr. Jekielek: I really want to talk about the threats facing our country from someone who’s been in military intelligence for many, many years, and … the way you look at the world. Before that, though, I’m very curious if you could just clarify this: You’re “not sure who these people serve.” Who are the people, and what do you mean by who they serve?
Gen. Flynn: I think that they have to serve the country. It’s the number one [priority]. You serve the country. Everybody that works in government, for the most part, in some capacity, takes an oath of office. You read the oath of office, and it’s a very powerful oath. It’s been around a long time. I don’t think that there have been many tweaks; I don’t think there have been any.
So that oath is a very powerful statement to the country, to the Constitution, and then it’s to the individual that you’re working for or on behalf of—certainly in the military. From the military perspective, your service, as we know, it comes with extraordinary sacrifice. You serve in the military, and you could be called to duty somewhere, and you could lose your life over it, as we know.
I had a great conversation with a Gold Star father yesterday who lost his son in Iraq in 2006. His son’s name was Josh, served with the Rangers, and we had a great conversation. His son gave his life for this country. That service, and sacrifice, and commitment, and devotion, those are the values and those are the ideas that make this country great because people serve, particularly in the military.
A lot of these young men and women who join our military, who are incredibly heroic, go out to these distant battlefields for reasons that they don’t totally understand—maybe running into people that really, in some cases, don’t even care that they’re there. They only do what they’re doing because they joined this effort because they believe in their buddies on their left and right, or they really do have some innate feeling or sense about themselves, and they cherish the freedoms that we do have.
They look at their moms and dads, or their uncles and aunts, or their sisters and brothers, or their own spouses and their children, and they go off and they do something, and they’re willing to give their life. That’s a special person.
Mr. Jekielek: You were saying that there are people who were breaking the rules and that they were serving something different than what you were expecting. What were they serving?
Gen. Flynn: I think [in] many cases, they’re serving a selfishness and elements within our government, and they were serving a corrupted culture that was created. We can define it with different words, but it’s a corrupted culture in our government that was created not in a moment or a few months: the spying on the campaign, or the spying on the transition, or the spying that was done in the government once, in this case, President Trump took over in 2017.
That corrupt culture wasn’t created in a period of a year. It evolved over certainly a decade, maybe longer, and so that corrupted culture that exists right inside this circle of a beltway that we’re almost in the middle of right now. That culture is what was being served.
There are definitely people inside of that culture who are leading and enabling that culture, and I won’t go into the names of those people. Everybody who watches this can go dig them up, or certainly, they know who I’m talking about. That culture is a culture of unaccountability and above it all, and that’s dangerous to a constitutional republic that is supposed to have absolute respect for the rule of law.
Again, going overseas [to] many places and talking to foreign allies, partners, other countries that I’ve been in, we talked to them about our rule of law and [suggested], “You should be more like us.” That’s a very, very serious thing, and we’ve been doing that for a long time because we believe in America as this land.
We don’t have all these illegal immigrants coming here because it’s a lousy place to come to. It’s a great place to come to, and they’re knocking on the doors of embassies around the world to try to get here or they’re [already] here, not because it’s a lousy place to come to, [but] because it’s this land of hope and opportunity.
But now we have this egregious behavior in the highest levels of our government, and the culture of those institutions have shifted, and shifted, like I said, not in six months or a year. It shifted over a long period of time, and now it’s exposed. Now it’s exposed. So I pray that there is an accounting of inappropriate behavior, and it’s criminal behavior in some cases. I pray that there’s an accounting of that, certainly, if not here on earth, then it’ll be accounting somewhere else, and I believe that.
Mr. Jekielek: Compared to what the American people can see right now or what’s been exposed, how deep do you think this goes? How much more is there?
Gen. Flynn: I believe it goes very deep. I believe it goes very deep into the various institutions. I think that when you hear comments from some people in your world, the media world, that go, “99.9 percent are great people,” you don’t have the top be lousy and then everybody else around him is great. So I think that the depth and again the culture of an institution defines an institution. The type of behavior that you want to have in your institution will define that institution.
It’s just like saying, when you walk in to see me, I want to treat you like I like to be treated. The golden rule, it’s that simple. When you’re not treated that way, especially when we’re talking about the rule of law and abusing the rule of law, then that’s a really dangerous thing for a constitutional republic that has the rule of law as one of its foundations, as one of the fabrics of it.
So I say “deep” because when you look around at the various institutions that I’m talking about, there’s always a depth and there’s different levels of it in different places. Washington, D.C., everybody calls it “the swamp.” Maybe in Washington, D.C., the institutions that we have evolved into something that is now not recognizable to the way they were maybe 15–20 years ago, or certainly they’re not recognizable to the way they were in the 1950s, 60s, 70s.
The institutions have evolved in this country and there’s a variety of reasons why they’ve evolved, whether it’s war, whether it’s just the way the inertia of government does, but that inertia has created a culture in a couple of different institutions that is no longer a viable culture to operate alongside a constitution that has evolved but is still the fabric of our country.
When people operate outside of that fabric, they’re doing damage to the fabric of the Constitution. When they’re not held accountable, they’re doing damage to the fabric of the Constitution. So it’s like threads, and they’re pulling these threads constantly, and until the American public see somebody getting back in there and stitching that Constitution back together, we have a problem.
I could give you examples of problems around the country and certainly around the world, down a notch or two. I don’t want to believe that the institutions are bad all the way to the bottom, but I think that the top sets the example, and the example that has to be set has to be one of service to nation, etc., and some of the things we’ve already talked about. I think that’s how you begin to shift, not back but forward, forward into a place where there is greater respect for these institutions.
The lack of confidence and frankly, the loss of respect for branches of government, and certainly rule-of-law institutions and our intelligence system, parts of it—the lack of confidence and lack of respect is not healthy. It’s unhealthy for the type of country that we are and that we want to be.
We cannot have the American people pay for everything. The American people give us everything. When you’re talking about government, we don’t exist without the American people. We have to remind ourselves that we work for the American people, we don’t work for the institution, and that idea, to me, has been lost.
In fact, I’m certain that our military still has that strong sense of themselves and who they actually work for, but I think that a lot of these other bureaucratic institutions forget who they work for. They really do and Jan, that goes down to state and to some local levels, cities, communities, where people are in government and they forget that they actually work for the people that are paying their salaries. Again, that’s the system that we have.
What I’m talking about, people will go, “How do you solve that?” It’s like solving global warming, it’s like solving something that is unsolvable, but how do we manage it? We manage it by leadership at the right levels, at the highest levels of our government to include the president of the United States, constantly reminding ourselves who it is that we work for, and I think that doesn’t happen enough. In fact, I know it doesn’t happen enough, and that includes the president, that includes the leaders of various institutions in the executive branch, that includes “leaders” in the legislative branch of government, certainly Congress and I even think in the judiciary.
The judiciary has to remember that [we work for the American people], especially lifetime appointments. You never hear much from them. You never hear much from the judiciary unless they rule from the bench. I think that there are times when they do this, but they do it maybe in the think-tank discussions around Washington, D.C., maybe not enough out to the people of this country so that the people in this country can see the judiciary, because it’s a really powerful branch all the way up to the justices of the Supreme Court.
They have to speak to the American public more routinely because of the lack of trust that the American people have in those things and those institutions. I think that we need to reinstitute some type of means to bring trust back into our country, between “we the people” and “we the government.”
Mr. Jekielek: A theme that’s emerging to me in everything you’re talking about is accountability. I want to talk about that momentarily. Before we do that, I really want to get your bird’s eye view from someone who’s been in military intelligence for a very, very long time, maybe not recently: What are the outside threats to America? What are the big issues that America needs to concern itself with?
Gen. Flynn: I believe the biggest issue is protecting our economic engines within this country. That’s the biggest issue. We have to protect innovation and the economic system that we have in order to maintain a prosperity for this country. Especially in the last four years, we’ve seen all these things pop up, like being energy-independent is a big deal. So the economic system that we have, we have to make sure that we balance that economic system and keep it very powerful, and protect it, and not abuse it.
From a 100,000-foot level down to the 60,000- or 50,000-foot level, there are clear competitors and adversaries on the world stage today that have a completely different political system than us, and they believe that their political system is better than ours, and they have plans, over time, to basically dominate both the economic systems and the political systems of the world.
So that would be clearly China, clearly Russia, clearly Iran. Other second-tier threats are countries like North Korea, and I describe them as second-tier because of their relationships with the regions of the world that they come from, so North Korea’s relationship with China, relationship with Russia. Iran, I put in that same category with Russia and China because Iran has a geostrategic position in the world and resources that enable that country to, frankly, they’re not thriving but they survive, but they’re also very dangerous.
And then other countries like Venezuela. When we look at our own hemisphere and we look from the 1970s and 80s and 90s, there was this shift to more democratic nations, if you will, and then there’s this subtle shifting back toward nations that are not democracy, so to speak, with free and fair elections, but [are] moving more toward socialism or communism or dictatorships, in some cases.
Those are the nation-states that still are out there that if somebody was going to lose sleep at night, those would be the ones I would lose sleep over. Principally China because it’s not like we don’t want to deal with them, but we have to deal with them from a stance, like a football player has a stance on the line before that player moves forward to move to the right, or move to the left, or move forward, or stand back and maybe block a little bit, so it’s like that.
To use a sports analogy, we have to understand what is our stance on the world stage. How long do we want to maintain that stance? In this case, China—what are the ways that they are trying to penetrate our lines, so to speak? What are the ways that they are trying to defend in their own defensive backfield to catch and grab and deceive the kinds of plays that we might be running?
It is a big game. It’s a very serious game because there are two competing ideologies and they’re not aligned. This particular large nation [communist China], I think it’s 1.6 billion [in population], I believe, versus us with let’s just say 330 million—it’s a demographic imbalance. Plus how they view themselves and how their economy is, and frankly, just basic human rights, the clear militarization that is happening in China, the relationships that have developed over time between Russia and China.
I forget how many years ago, a few years back probably, five, I guess, the Russians and the Chinese signed a huge military agreement, training, and weapon sales, and all these kinds of issues, as well as an energy agreement, so you have to watch those things because it’s not just that they have a new weapon system or they’ve got a new aircraft. We were talking about “We have the F-35 [combat aircraft].”
We talk about things, and what we really need to be talking about is where are the relationships and how are those relationships evolving because as you know—and I met your lovely wife the other day—we’d all be kneeling at the altar of Nazism had we not taken advantage of relationships [that] today we probably could never have. Had it not been for Russia and the United States, and the other allies that we had, in Europe at least, we probably wouldn’t have beaten Adolf Hitler.
So that was an alliance of convenience or was an alliance because we both saw—frankly, in sort of my lifetime, I was born after World War II, but it was less than 100 years ago—that the altar of Nazism and the altar of imperialism required relationships to form to be able to defeat them. It wasn’t just defeating a military, it was defeating an idea, an ideology. That’s what we have to understand when we talk about why we do the things that we do.
Maybe another conversation we could have is all this nonsense about Russia and the Middle East and China. What is it about alliances that we have to consider? Because alliances matter. And it’s not always about just being able to be friends with somebody or do trade. There’s a lot of other aspects of having an alliance or a partnership with a country beyond just trading with them. It’s everything, and it consists of everything.
But at the end of the day, the principal thing that the president of the United States has at his or her core is the responsibility to provide for the safety and security of every American citizen. The subtext of that [includes] things like making sure that we are able to have the prosperity that we want, making sure that we have rule of law and systems that work. A kid dials 911 in an emergency and a police officer shows up and takes care of the problem, right? I mean, it’s that simple sometimes.
But these are big, big relationships that this town will tell you, this is bad. All this town has done is get us and keep us in wars. And as I sit here today, this is December of 2020, and we’re still arguing about whether or not we should bring forces home from Afghanistan, or what we’re doing in Iraq. And I’ve said this publicly that the biggest probably strategic mistake in the early part of this century was to get us involved in Iraq, nevermind Libya.
There are threats that we have. And as a president considers all these things, and the intel community comes in and says, “Bad, bad, bad. Worst case, worst case, worst case,” what a president has to do is decide for the country, for we the people, what are the right ways to take advantage of the alliances, the geostrategic alliances. It doesn’t mean that somebody is an ally, it just means that we need to have them as part of a geostrategic alliance to do things, to do smart things.
Because we don’t want to go to war. We don’t want to do any of that. What we really want is—I love to say we’re all going to get along. That’s not true. That’s not the history of the world. The history of the world is, and I say this a little bit tongue in cheek, we’re still 19 years at war. We’ve [been] at war, whether they want to define it like that or not, since 2001, 9/11. We still have people over in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there are people over there trying to kill them.
The soldier that’s on the ground sees it as war, sees it as combat. Maybe the person going to Starbucks, frankly, doesn’t even understand that. But we have to ensure that we understand what’s the aberration. Is peace the aberration, or is war the aberration? Do we have long periods of war and short periods of peace?
So if you look at it historically, if you were in various military formations in the history of the world, you’d find yourself where you’d feel like you’re at war all the time. So I think that we have to understand what these geostrategic alliances are, in addition to the way that I describe, some of the threats.
Mr. Jekielek: You mentioned the competing ideologies—liberal democracy challenged, liberal democracy in the U.S. Then in China, we have a communist system. Offline or perhaps even in the previous interview, we talked about the increased influence of and interest in socialism and those types of ideas here in America itself. I’m wondering what you think about that because it seems like that competing ideology isn’t even just external, but it’s also internal.
Gen. Flynn: I think that you see it, and I don’t want to interview you, but maybe I’ll at least get a reaction out of you. But if you don’t see, or if your audience doesn’t see, Marxism, socialism, progressivism, and liberalism entering the bloodstream of America, then people aren’t paying attention. In a very short history lesson, the turn of the last century; the Communist Party of America has been around a long time, and it still sort of exists. Now you have this party that’s called the Democratic Socialist Party.
Mr. Jekielek: Democratic Socialists of America?
Gen. Flynn: Yes, the Democratic Socialist Party of America—that exists. Is that an evolution? So these ideas evolve, these political ideologies evolve. So the things that I just described —Marxism, communism, socialism, progressivism, liberalism—those are things that exist, those are real ideas that exist. And what I know is that if you remove history, if you remove civics, you shift the narrative in our education system, in the American education system.
At the elementary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels, if you shift that narrative, and you begin to promote the ideas of these things, of these other ideologies, then over time—and a generation is about 25 to 30 years—if you are shifting our education system away from making and teaching what is great about America, [then] you are actually teaching things that are anti-America.
[I’m not] hindering free speech, and I’m not saying don’t teach that, because I studied some of that stuff. I’ve studied it! But I also know what I was taught. I know that our education system and all those levels that I described have shifted.
What we have to understand in this country is that this country is an experiment. This is an experiment. The Founding Fathers knew it was an experiment, and they did their damnedest to study the world and the history of the world. What they found and saw from the 1500s, 1600s, actually further back than that, and then the evolution of the 1700s and then their own study and their own knowledge and their own faith—and they created this thing.
There have been subsequent amendments to our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, so this is an evolving experiment. I did talk to you the last time about, did you ever meet anybody from [the] Byzantine [Empire]? People don’t know the Byzantine, they think it’s like chocolate that you pour in milk. That’s Ovaltine!
[It was an empire]. Empires come and go. Nation-states fail. So is this experiment waxing? Are we still growing as the beacon of hope for the rest of the world? I still believe that in my heart, but I know that there is a dimension of our experiment that is sort of in our face right now. And the American public has to decide. We the people, the American public, have to decide what it is that they want.
We will not last forever. That’s the fact of history. So when I project and I try to look forward into the future, I want to believe that we still have some time. I can’t look past my children or my grandchildren, but I can certainly see through what I hope to be their long lives, taking my grandchildren who, if they continue to live healthily and they get at least to the age of my parents, that they’ll be still alive at the turn of this century that we’re in. So that’s another 80 years. If they can live that long, wow, great!
But what does that look like? And what are the trends that they are going to live through? War, peace, collapses, changes, all these things. I know, having studied a little bit of history, and you look at the trends of history over time, it does repeat itself. There are times that it actually does repeat itself.
Mr. Jekielek: So what is Mike Flynn’s prescription for America at this time?
Gen. Flynn: The American people are awake. the American people are awake, I believe, more than they’ve been awake in decades, or maybe forever, because of the vast amount of information that they have, and they’re searching for the truth. They’re awake, and they’re searching for the truth. The majority of the American people absolutely believe [in] and love this country.
Some of the fabric of our country are our families. So if I was to say, what’s another threat to the country, it’s the breakdown of the family. But when we talk about families, I think we also have to talk about a family that is not just siblings and a mother and a father, or children that are part of your nuclear family. A family is really elements around you. It’s extended families, its communities within your churches, in the places where you go to pray.
This country still has God as a foundation in just about everything that we do. If you read [about] the Founding Fathers and what was the principal document that they used to write the Constitution, it was the Bible. So that’s in our DNA. There are elements trying to rip it out, but that’s in our DNA.
Imperfection—we accept that we are imperfect, but we’re incredibly forgiving as a nation. And I think that that’s part of who we are as Americans. You make a mistake, you own up to it, we forgive you, let’s move on. That’s part of it.
So I think going forward, as we get through this election, particularly this election which is a crucible moment in our history, unprecedented, never happened before, and it’s an embarrassment to me as an American citizen, never mind somebody who served in our highest levels of our government, to the rest of the world, because of what we have done for others around the world, and we can’t even get our own damn elections correct. But moving forward, we have to have a reconciliation between the government and we the people, the people of this country.
There has to be a recognition that these institutions … are paid for by every American citizen, and this is not about paying taxes or paying money, it is about the hard-working Americans that are around this country and the sacrifice of our men and women principally in uniform, although there are others who have sacrificed their lives for this nation.
But we have to reconcile who we are as Americans and what we want in the future with an understanding of the sacrifice of those of the millions who have gone before us and those who are serving us in government.
If we’re not able to reconcile that through more accountable institutions, some areas where we really do seek some adjustments in our system—definitely, definitely in our education system… The things that I’m telling you, Jan—are they solvable problems or manageable problems? A simple thing.
I don’t know what school systems you went through, but I remember going through Aquidneck School in Middletown, Rhode Island, which is a little public school. I have friends from when I went there, today, that are great friends of mine. Every morning, we’d come into homeroom—public school teachers, great teachers. Mrs. Steele was one of them, Mrs. Alan was another one. Those were fifth grade teachers.
I remember because prior to that—you’re younger and you don’t really reflect on it. But I’m telling you a story about when I was in fifth grade. One of the things we did in homeroom when we started the day is we all stood up and put our hand over our heart, we turned and faced an American flag flying in that classroom, and we said the Pledge of Allegiance.
All of us. I didn’t understand it then. Nobody understood, fifth grade, sixth grade, whatever you are, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth or tenth, you’re standing there and you’re pledging allegiance. Just those words alone are powerful, “I pledge allegiance.” And you’re pledging allegiance, as a child you don’t understand it, but now I’m sitting here today, and that was sort of instituted into me. It was culturalized into me and many, many others, to understand that you are standing, you’re facing a flag, and you’re talking to something that’s greater than you are. It’s huge!
So every public school system in this country that gets a penny of federal dollars, why can’t they stand up and say the Pledge of Allegiance once a day? How about once a week? The principal comes on, he hits his microphone, he says, “Okay school, we’re going to say the Pledge of Allegiance today.” What is the matter with that? They’re getting federal dollars, and they’re not learning about the things that America is known for.
That’s a simple example of “Wow, what a great idea. Why don’t we do that?” Because otherwise, if you don’t do it, the federal government is going to take those federal dollars away from you. Then you, local community; you, state; you decide how you want to do it because I guess you don’t want the federal dollars that come with that. That’s the chicken and egg, or that’s the carrot and stick. It’s the carrot and stick.
I would hate to think that we’d have to do the carrot-and-stick to pledge allegiance to our country and to make it so we teach our children what is important, not just about what they’re going to learn in school, but what’s important about the nation, because that might be the only education and civics that they get for that day, or maybe for that week.
That may be it. That may be it because as I look around in our education system, certainly the public school education system, I find that lacking. And it’s not a lick on the teachers. Teachers work their tails off. But it’s a lick on the culture that has shifted into our education system.
And if there’s anything that I was taught by my mother, and I already said what I was taught by my father which was treat people like you’d like to be treated—the golden rule. If I was taught anything by my mother, it was to be a lifelong learner. Never stop learning. I want children to be able to learn about our country. What’s wrong with that?
So that’s a little bit of inkling into, or a little bit of insight into how I think about the future. Super important. If we don’t do that, this experiment will disappear like other nation-states in the history of the world. And I don’t want that to happen. I believe that we can survive through this and we will, but it is going to take great leadership. And it’s going to take, in some cases, great change to be able to get us there.
Mr. Jekielek: Any final thoughts before we finish up?
Gen. Flynn: Maybe the next time I’ll come in and interview you because you have a lot to think about. Your audience I think is a great audience. I appreciate what The Epoch Times does. And you’re a truth-seeker, right? You’re a truth-seeker. It’s not just these kinds of interviews you do, but you’re an individual and your organization seeks the truth. I think that that’s what people are looking for. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be so successful.
Your organization would not be successful if you weren’t looking for the truth. Because people just wouldn’t pay any attention to you. They don’t want [untruths]. They don’t want it anymore. They’re tired of it; they’re tired of the nonsense. That’s why you see all these big news organizations just plummeting in ratings and such because they’re not telling the truth, and people know that. The American public sees right through it.
Mr. Jekielek: Mike Flynn, such a pleasure to have you on.
Gen. Flynn: Great. Thank you.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.