Bloomberg Chastises Thought Police at Harvard Commencement


Jannis Tobias Werner / Shutterstock.comMichael Bloomberg just wrapped up quite a commencement address to Harvard grads. Titled “Don’t Major in Intolerance,” the political independent and former mayor surprisingly took academia’s thought police to task:

In the 1950s, the right wing was attempting to repress left-wing ideas. Today, on many campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas, even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species.

Perhaps nowhere is that more true than here in the Ivy League. In the 2012 presidential race, 96 percent of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama. That statistic, drawn from Federal Election Commission data, should give us pause — and I say that as someone who endorsed President Obama. When 96 percent of faculty donors prefer one candidate to another, you have to wonder whether students are being exposed to the diversity of views that a university should offer. Diversity of gender, ethnicity and orientation is important. But a university cannot be great if its faculty is politically homogenous.

In fact, the whole purpose of granting tenure to professors is to ensure that they feel free to conduct research on ideas that run afoul of university politics and societal norms. When tenure was created, it mostly protected liberals whose ideas ran up against conservative norms.

Today, if tenure is going to continue to exist, it must also protect conservatives whose ideas run up against liberal norms. Otherwise, university research will lose credibility. A liberal arts education must not be an education in the art of liberalism.

This spring, it has been disturbing to see a number of college commencement speakers withdraw, or have their invitations rescinded, after protests from students and — to me, shockingly — from senior faculty and administrators who should know better.

Of course, the speech also takes conservatives to task in other areas, such as the 2nd Amendment. Nevertheless, kudos to Mayor Bloomberg for standing up for free speech in the lion’s den.

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  1. FightinInPhilly Coolidge

    An interesting experiment would be to see how many people will quote only the half of the speech they prefer. But yes- good for Mike to point out the inanity of withdrawing invitations for political reasons.

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  2. Inactive

    But the faculty is not politically homogeneous! Why, I had Socialists of all types as grad school professors.

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  3. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards

    Of course, freedom of speech does not include the right to say, “I would like fries with that.”

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  4. rico Inactive

    Most interestingly, he drew applause for challenging liberal orthodoxy.

    On the other hand, Bloomberg tagged those who disagree with today’s “climate change”  orthodoxy with  “ideological stubbornness.”

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  5. A Beleaguered Conservative Member
    A Beleaguered Conservative

    Kudos seconded.  And we can be hopeful that the new New York mayor shares the same beliefs as the old.

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  6. Franco Member

    Okay, I read the whole thing and come away underimpressed, angry even. Somehow we are supposed to celebrate that Bloomberg said something that amounts to simple common sense any 9th grader should know and support, yet the bulk of his speech advocates for climate change and the pathologizing of ‘gun violence’ and more. Notice he did not mention their names or their positions.  Yet, when pushing his own agenda, actually hitch-hiking on the lefty PC intolerance, he cites specific cases, ALL left-wing causes. This is what they do.

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  7. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya

    It is interesting (a) to know that Mr. Bloomberg is capable of having and expressing sensible thoughts, and (b) that he stood up before Harvard faculty, administrators, and students, and acknowledged that he does not believe it is a great university.

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