(p. A11) From former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s commencement address at Harvard University, May 29:
Repressing free expression is a natural human weakness, and it is up to us to fight it at every turn. Intolerance of ideas–whether liberal or conservative–is antithetical to individual rights and free societies, and it is no less antithetical to great universities and first-rate scholarship.
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 2012 presidential race, according to Federal Election Commission data, 96% of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama.
Ninety-six percent. There was more disagreement among the old Soviet Politburo than there is among Ivy League donors.
. . .
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–and the professors who conduct it–will lose credibility.
Great universities must not become predictably partisan. And a liberal arts education must not be an education in the art of liberalism.
For the full commentary, see:
Mike Bloomberg. “Notable & Quotable: Mike Bloomberg at Harvard.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., May 31, 2014): A11.
(Note: ellipsis added; italics in original.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 30, 2014.)