Michael Bloomberg: Liberal intolerance on campus is … intolerable

Posted by: ST on May 30, 2014 at 11:42 am
Liberal academic bias

Very real. Extremely disturbing.
(Image via the Washington Times)

In an editorial published at Bloomberg View - which was adapted off of a commencement speech he gave yesterday at Harvard, Michael Bloomberg makes some surprisingly good points about the intolerance of liberals at colleges across America towards conservative thought (via):

There is an idea floating around college campuses — including here at Harvard — that scholars should be funded only if their work conforms to a particular view of justice. There’s a word for that idea: censorship. And it is just a modern-day form of McCarthyism.

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spring, it has been disturbing to see a number of college commencement speakers withdraw, or have their invitations rescinded, after protests from students and — to me, shockingly — from senior faculty and administrators who should know better.

It happened at Brandeis, Haverford, Rutgers and Smith. Last year, it happened at Swarthmore and Johns Hopkins. In each case, liberals silenced a voice and denied an honorary degree to individuals they deemed politically objectionable.

As a former chairman of Johns Hopkins, I believe that a university’s obligation is not to teach students what to think, but to teach students how to think. And that requires listening to the other side, weighing arguments without prejudging them, and determining whether the other side might actually make some fair points.

If the faculty fails to do this, then it is the responsibility of the administration and governing body to step in and make it a priority. If they do not, if students graduate with ears and minds closed, the university has failed both the student and society. If you want to know where that leads, look no further than Washington.

PJ Tatler’s Bryan Preston responds:

I am aware that Bloomberg remains a hypocrite on guns who believes that his use of wealth to push his policy preferences whether people want them or not will buy his way into heaven, even though he doesn’t really believe in God. He’s a small man with a gargantuan ego. But when he’s right, he’s right, and in this speech, he’s right. His commencement address is an important one.

Yes.  As the old saying goes, a broken clock is right twice a day. While Bloomberg is frequently wrong – more wrong than right, in fact, at least in this instance he hit it on the mark.  Well done. For a change.

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One Response to “Michael Bloomberg: Liberal intolerance on campus is … intolerable”

Comments

  1. Drew the Infidel says:

    Though “Gloomberg” is sometimes hard to stomach, these remarks are deadly accurate when you consider Condoleeza Rice’s appearance at Rutgers was cancelled through the efforts of 50 students out of a total enrollment of 65,000.

    With a mathematical imbalance that ludicrous it points the finger of guilt directly at the leftist faculty members who instigated the entire incident in the first place.

    Faculty members’ credibility bears close scrutiny. Remember those at Duke who took out a full-page newspaper ad declaring the lacrosse team members guilty of rape? The team was exonerated, the disbarred prosecutor is still serving time, and the accuser is facing prison time for attempted murder in a separate case.