May 31, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: Two Cheers For Bloomberg: A liberal politician denounces leftist “McCarthyism.”

Michael Bloomberg has never been this columnist’s favorite politician, but he gave a speech yesterday at Harvard’s commencement that we can’t help but applaud. The generally left-liberal three-term former New York mayor forcefully defended the old-fashioned liberal values of free expression and inquiry against the postmodern left’s relentless attacks. . . .

“Great universities must not become predictably partisan,” Bloomberg said–though it’s a little late for that. Widespread leftist campus censorship has been going on at least since the mid-1980s, when Bloomberg, now 72, was but a quadragenarian.

The problem has received a flurry of attention of late because a series of commencement speeches have been canceled. As Bloomberg observed: “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spring, it has been disturbing to see a number of college commencement speakers withdraw–or have their invitations rescinded–after protests from students and–to me, shockingly–from senior faculty and administrators who should know better.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,” he noted. “Last year, it happened at Swarthmore and Johns Hopkins.” None of these are Ivy League schools, suggesting that National Review’s Kevin Williamson might have been on to something when he observed: “Anybody else notice that the trend here is hysteria among students at pretty good but not that good colleges? I suspect that there is some intellectual overcompensation at work here.”

Read the whole thing.