June 3, 2014
By Richard Land, Executive Editor
Talk about going to the source of the problem.
Last week former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg went to Harvard and delivered a fiery commencement speech that must have profoundly shocked both the professors and the graduating seniors. Bloomberg, a graduate of Johns Hopkins, with an MBA from Harvard, attacked intolerant progressivism and fired some powerful verbal salvos into the headquarters of the liberal establishment. Bloomberg did not bury his lead. He got right to the point. He said, “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 then Bloomberg went radioactive. He said such censorship was “just a modern day form of McCarthyism” and that “conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species.”
Bloomberg then pointed out that Federal Elections Commission research found that “96% of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama.”Bloomberg said that as an Obama supporter himself, he found that number very disturbing, expressing his doubt as to “whether students are being exposed to the diversity of views that a great university should offer.”Bloomberg stated that “a liberal arts education must not be an education in the art of liberalism.” “The role of universities,” Bloomberg asserted, “is not to promote an ideology,” but instead “to provide scholars and students with a neutral forum for researching and debating issues—without tipping scales in one direction, or repressing unpopular views.”At this point the Harvard authorities must have been wondering why they invited Mayor Bloomberg to speak in the first place. Bloomberg reviewed some of the commencement speakers that were denied the right to speak “at Brandeis, Haverford, Rutgers and Smith” as well as a year earlier “at Swarthmore and Johns Hopkins.”Bloomberg denounced such censorship as “an outrage” and concluded, “If a university thinks twice before inviting a commencement speaker because of his or her politics, censorship and conformity—the mortal enemies of freedom—win out.”
Bloomberg asked the assembled administrators, faculty, and students, “Isn’t the purpose of a university to stir discussion, not silence it?” He then concluded, “I strongly believe that a university’s obligation is not to teach students what to think but to teach students how to think.” Former Mayor Bloomberg has done the nation a great service by speaking bold truth to intolerant power. Liberal intolerance was prevalent when I was a Princeton undergraduate in the 60s. It has become far worse in the intervening decades. Too many students are being brainwashed and indoctrinated, instead of educated, in our nation’s colleges.
Unless such dangerous trends are reversed, it will increasingly imperil everyone’s liberties—personal, civil, and religious.