In 2014, the University of Rhode Island conferred an honorary degree on Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and already a URI graduate.
Flynn would retire that August and go on to become national security advisor for President Donald Trump. He was then charged with lying to the FBI in 2017 in an incident that, with each new piece of information that drops about it, looks increasingly like a frame-up designed to get information on the Russia collusion hoax.
In December 2017, he reached a plea deal on the charges, but he tried to withdraw his guilty plea due after new representation argued in May 2020 that the government had acted in “bad faith” and “vindictiveness,” as well as in “breach of the plea agreement.”
Then-Attorney General William Barr moved to dismiss the charge, telling CBS News it “undid what was an injustice” and the FBI interview that led to the charge had no legitimate basis but was instead a “perjury trap.” Flynn was subsequently given a pardon by Trump.
All of this happened between 2017 and the present. In that time, URI found no good reason to take away Flynn’s honorary degree.
Now, however, the university’s new president thinks it should be yanked — and in exclusive comments to The Western Journal, Flynn said his “family has had enough” of “cancel culture and ‘wokeness’ in our academic institutions.”
(Interviews with Flynn are just some of the original content The Western Journal provides — and we’ll continue to give you interviews and perspectives that the mainstream media won’t touch. You can help us in our mission to bring readers all sides of the story by subscribing.)
According to The Providence Journal, URI President Marc Parlange has called on the board of trustees at the school to revoke the honorary degrees awarded to Flynn and former New York mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
A URI committee that oversees honorary degrees voted Dec. 10 to revoke the degrees. Parlange said that “based on their findings that General Flynn and Mayor Giuliani no longer represent the highest level of our values and standards that were evident when we first bestowed the degree.”
“As a civic institution, URI has the privilege and responsibility to sustain and preserve American democracy by insuring and modeling good citizenship,” Parlange claimed in his letter, according to the Journal. “Revoking these honorary degrees reinforces our values and allows us to lead with truth and integrity.”
Flynn told The Western Journal that it was “another example of cancel culture and ‘wokeness’ in our academic institutions.”
“And I know there is a concerted effort to attack me from certain elements on the Left, mainly because of my very visible stance fighting back against the socialist takeover of our country,” he added, predicting: “It will get national attention in the next 24 hours.”
A statement from the Flynn family got closer to the truth:
“Astoundingly, URI’s new President Mr. Marc Parlange distorts the facts and adopts lies and gossip spread for years in connection with the, now confirmed, framing of General Flynn,” the family said. “Mr. Parlange’s recommendation to revoke General Flynn’s honorary degree lacks moral courage, prioritizes pettiness over principles, and sets an unsavory, disturbing precedent.”
“The blatant hypocrisy arising out of the Board’s expected decision to revoke General Flynn’s honorary degree smacks in the face of the core principles of this Country and the stated mission of the University, itself,” it said.
“With this flawed and crooked action,” the family said, “URI endorses the destructive and tyrannical cancel culture, bowing down to the woke mob and repressive forces, while revealing itself to lack the intellectual capacity, fortitude or integrity that is required of an American public university in the 21st century.
“General Flynn has dedicated his life to protect and preserve the United States of America and the freedoms and liberties enjoyed by all citizens of this great country, including those associated with the University of Rhode Island.
“His unwavering love for God and Country – above all else – is the torch of light that he carried through decades of public service to America as a U.S. Army soldier and military leader of tens of thousands of young men and women in battlefields around the world.
“For General Flynn, that bright light of freedom, liberty and equal justice for all will never dim and he will never be deterred. Never will he stop fearlessly fighting for the Republic and for every individual’s rights and liberty bestowed on American citizens by the Grace of God Almighty.”
Yes, this is about the usual academic ritual of cancel culture, especially since both Flynn and Giuliani worked with Trump, including in the wake of the 2020 election. Both have courted controversy.
Controversy alone, however, isn’t a reason to remove an honorary degree.
If this were a political figure on the left, any call to revoke the honorary degree would be met with a hue and cry among both tenured faculty and student activists.
Rather, it’s the fact that Flynn, URI graduate and decorated military man though he may be, has an “unwavering love for God and Country.”
Neither is popular in academia in 2022, where religion is viewed as a laughable vestige of human development and our country is viewed as fatally flawed, built upon racism and seeped in privilege that the university exists to dismantle. A man who not only stands up for both but who put on a uniform to defend them is anathema to our institutions of higher education.
This is the real attack — and it won’t be the last one.
It’s worth noting the degree hasn’t been revoked yet; the board of trustees at URI is scheduled to vote on it Friday.
However, it’s also worth noting the Flynn family sent its statement to the board of trustees and closed it with this: “URI is without redemption to the Flynn Family and all others who seek right over wrong and truth over lies.”
The decision to pursue the revocation of Flynn’s honorary degree may be outrageous, especially when you consider URI’s former president let the degree stand. However, Flynn and his family are drawing a line in the sand, and it’s one we should all begin drawing when it comes to academia.
The choice to go after those who value God and country — and many of us still do — is not without consequences, especially when those institutions are state-run. Remember: Taxpayers can choose to revoke their support, too.