I’m no fan of the former mayor of New York who tried to ban sugary drinks in the Big Apple. However, there are moments when even your enemies are to be cheered, and this is one such moment. Michael Bloomberg delivered the commencement address at the University of Michigan over the weekend and he took the time to denounce the prevalence of liberal fascism on college campuses today, particularly, the seeming war on free speech.
“The most important knowledge that you will leave here today with, like the importance of teamwork, has nothing to do with your major. It is about how to study, how to cooperate, how to listen carefully, how to think critically, and how to resolve conflicts through reason. In other words, it is working with others. Those are the most important skills in the working world, and it’s why colleges have always exposed students to challenging and uncomfortable ideas.”
Bloomberg in particular railed against the need of today’s college students (and faculty) to be kept safely away from speech that offends them. His comments earned both raucous cheers and strenuous jeers.
“The fact that some university boards and administrations now bow to pressure groups, and shield students from these ideas through safe spaces, code words, and trigger warnings, is in my view a terrible mistake. The whole purpose of college is to learn how to deal with difficult situations, not to run away from them. “A microaggression is exactly that, micro. But in a macro sense, one of the most dangerous places on a college campus is the so-called safe space, because it creates a false impression that we can isolate ourselves from those who hold different views. We can’t, and we shouldn’t try. Not in politics, not in the workplace.”
Bloomberg even went so far as to praise one conservative University of Michigan student, who was forced to quit writing for the school paper after voicing his political views.
“I know that one of today’s graduates, Omar Mahmood, has faced threats and intimidation because he dared to write political satire about being left-handed in the Michigan Daily and he refused to apologize for it. Omar, wherever you are out there, I’m glad you stood your ground.”
While I may not be Michael Bloomberg’s biggest fan, I am happy to endorse this message of support for free speech and Bloomberg’s eloquent defense of the necessity of differing ideas, particularly on college campuses.