First he said “OMG” to get the kids on his side. Then former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg (Harvard MBA ‘66) did his Bloomberg thing in a commencement speech today, calling for bipartisanship and civility and all that. “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,” he said. “There’s a word for that idea: censorship. And it is just a modern-day form of McCarthyism.” An edited version of the speech was then posted, fittingly, on Bloomberg’s centrist pet project Bloomberg View.
“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,” he continued. “Perhaps nowhere is that more true than here in the Ivy League.” (He also cited the ground zero mosque, Pussy Riot, and the “Happy” dancers in Iran.)
In front of Aretha Franklin, Joseph Stiglitz, and President George H. W. Bush, all of whom also received honorary degrees, Bloomberg cited the fact that “96 percent of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama” as a worrying statistic — “and I say that as someone who endorsed President Obama.” In a line not included in the published version, he added, “There was more disagreement among the old Soviet politburo than there is among Ivy League donors.”
“Neither party has a monopoly of truth or God on its side,” Bloomberg said. And neither, he made clear, has a monopoly on Mr. Bloomberg.