NOTE: The article excerpted on this page is from an outside publication and is posted on FIRE's website because it references FIRE's work. The viewpoints expressed in this article do not necessarily represent FIRE's positions.
By Robby Soave at Reason Online
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is infamous for his liberty-unfriendly views on racial profiling, gun control and public health. But as the saying goes, even a broken, miserably authoritarian clock is right twice a day.
Bloomberg, who delivered the commencement address to Harvard University’s graduating class yesterday, harshly criticized the climate of leftist indoctrination at Ivy League campuses.
“There was more disagreement among the old Soviet politburo than there is among Ivy League donors,” he said, noting that 96 percent of Harvard faculty members and administrators donated to President Obama’s re-election campaign.
Bloomberg warned that some campuses seem determined to root out all dissenting views.
“Today on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to oppress conservatives, even as conservative faculty members are in danger of becoming an endangered species,” he said.
The dangers of groupthink at American universities have rarely been more apparent. Over the past few weeks, intolerant students and faculty at campus after campus have succeeded in their efforts to shut down events featuring non-liberal viewpoints. Speakers from all across the ideological spectrum suffered persecution, as long as they subscribed to at least one opinion deemed unacceptable by the forces of political correctness.
Predictably, some Harvard students opposed Bloomberg as a commencement speaker, given his support for heavy-handed police tactics and racial profiling.
“It’s unsettling to me, [for] someone to speak who advocates a racist policy when you want students of color on campus to feel comfortable,” said Harvard junior Keyanna Wigglesworth in a statement to CNN. “It’s confusing and I don’t think it’s what Harvard stands for.”
This view that the emotional comfort of students is more important than fostering a climate of open inquiry is disturbingly common and even increasing, according to a recent report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE President Greg Lukianoff wrote:
“FIRE has informally tracked disinvitation incidents for a long time, but the attention paid to the problem this year because of the prominence of the speakers at issue led us to systematically evaluate the problem,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “The data confirms what we and many others suspected: The desire to silence speakers on campus is strong—and disturbingly, ‘disinvitations’ are becoming more common.”
More on campus free speech battles here.