Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg assailed censorship on college campuses that silences politically conservative ideas and imposes a form of one-sided political indoctrination. Said Bloomberg, “a liberal arts education must not become an education in the art of liberalism.”
His condemnation of liberal intolerance came during the commencement address at the Harvard University graduation.
Slurpy foe Bloomberg, a Democrat turned Republican turned Independent who received an MBA from Harvard in 1966, generally follows the liberal/progressive line and the whole “nanny state” thing himself, particularly on gun control, which makes his pointed remarks even more surprising.
Much has been written about how it is difficult for highly qualified right-leaning scholars to get teaching jobs, let alone tenure, in academia. Some of these disputes have wound up in court. A similar kind of employment discrimination often happens in Hollywood against those in front and behind the camera who have publicly expressed a point of view that differs from the dominant liberal ideology.
Moreover, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog claimed no “clearly aligned Republican political figure” spoke at any of the top 30 universities or top 30 liberal arts colleges in the 2013 and 2014 commencement season. During that same time period, however, 25 Democrats delivered graduation speeches.
According to Bloomberg, contemporary academia is engaging in censorship — a modern-day version of “McCarthyism” — when it denies funding to research that doesn’t conform to a particular political viewpoint. “In the 1950s, the right wing was attempting to repress left-wing ideas. Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species. And that I probably nowhere more true than it is here in the Ivy League.”
Noting that in the 2012 presidential election season, Obama received 96 percent of all campaign contributions made by Ivy League professors and other employees, Bloomberg asserted that “you really have to wonder if students are being exposed to the diversity of views at a university should offer. Diversity of gender, ethnicity and orientation is important. But a university cannot be great if its faculty is politically homogenous… great universities must not become predictably partisan… The role of universities is not to promote an ideology, it is to provide scholars and students with a neutral forum for researching and debating on issues, without tipping the scales in one direction or repressing unpopular views. Requiring scholars and commencement speakers for that matter to conform to certain political standards undermines the whole purpose of a university.”
As noted in the ex-mayor’s speech, Bloomberg’s former police commissioner Ray Kelly was shouted down at Brown University by unruly progressive students when he tried to speak there last October.
Both Condoleezza Rice and Ayaan Hirsi Ali exited planned graduation speeches at Rutgers and Brandeis this month, respectively, when a cohort of leftists protested. In Hirsi’s case, the university withdrew the invitation.
Do you agee with Michael Bloomberg that today’s college campuses lack tolerance and diversity and that conservative and/or libertarian ideas are being censored or squelched?
[image credit: Rubenstein]