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Bloomberg: Whatever Dershowitz or Quinn Might Prefer, This Isn’t North Korea

[ 109 ] February 6, 2013 |

I don’t get the chance to say this often, but Bloomberg really stepped up and did the right thing here:

Well look, I couldn’t disagree more violently with BDS as they call it, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions. As you know I’m a big supporter of Israel, as big a one as you can find in the city, but I could also not agree more strongly with an academic department’s right to sponsor a forum on any topic that they choose. I mean, if you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea.

The last thing that we need is for members of our City Council or State Legislature to be micromanaging the kinds of programs that our public universities run, and base funding decisions on the political views of professors. I can’t think of anything that would be more destructive to a university and its students.

You know, the freedom to discuss ideas, including ideas that people find repugnant, lies really at the heart of the university system, and take that away and higher education in this country would certainly die.

Give Bloomberg this: he’s infinitely preferable to Giuliani.

  • Glenn

    Bravo to Bloomberg for this.

    • david mizner

      Does this mean he’s not going to change his mind and go for a 4th term?

      Can’t say I was exactly surprised by liberal politicians shitting on free speech and academic freedom to demonstrate their love for Israel — this is NYC, after all — yet it was unusually depressing spectacle.

      The president of Brooklyn college, Karen Gould, also deserve props for staying strong.

      • david mizner

        And Corey Robin has a post reporting that the pols have backpedaled. Victory!

      • Bloomberg has already established a SuperPAC for the 2016 election for President, but I seriously doubt he’ll run for the office. I think he likes the idea of being a kingmaker.

      • Unconditional support of Israel has been the single most important issue for a very large number of US “progressives” for decades now. Indeed it has been the “progressives” in the Democratic Party in NY that have been most active in supporting the complete denial of all rights to the Palestinians. I do not expect this to ever change. Anti-Arab racism is in many ways an import into the US from Israel and it was liberals and “progressives” in NY like Dershowitz, Weiner, Schumer, Moynihan, etc. that adopted this prejudice first.

        • tomsk

          Ye “gods”, do “you” ever give it a “rest”? Since when has “Dershowitz” been any sort of “progressive”?

          • He has always been a liberal Democrat. In the 1980s he was in fact pretty much considered by everybody to be the Platonic model of a liberal left Democrat. It was only after 9/11 that the “progressives” rejected him.

            • Malaclypse

              Just to clarify, you are also claiming that Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who wrote The Negro Family, worked for Richard Nixon, and claimed that government assistance was trapped by a “professionalization of reform” was also a model liberal?

              No wonder you see Stalinists everywhere.

              • Moynihan was a liberal Democrat and The Negro Family is a prime example of liberal racism. Black power advocates in the 1970s certainly thought of Moynihan as representing the liberal white academic establishment. He did not identify himself as conservative and was not identified as one by other people.

                • Malaclypse

                  Could you identify a recognizably liberal position that he held?

                • Yes, his strong support of Israel and rejection of the self evident truth that Zionism is racism. That is a mainstream liberal position held by almost all NY Democrats. Criticism of Israel was almost a complete monopoly of the hard right in the US for most of its existence.

                • Malaclypse

                  Yes, his strong support of Israel and rejection of the self evident truth that Zionism is racism.

                  Okay, so nothing with any recognizable relation to the liberalism that exists outside of your head. No work on how to lessen inequality, or expand civil rights, or use government programs to improve people’s lives. Just a willingness to work for Richard Fucking Nixon as Secretary for Blaming The Negros.

                • Right because no liberal Democrats ever supported Israel. You are the one living in a fantasy world.

                • Data Tutashkhia

                  You talk about politicians as if the sounds they utter were expressing their opinions, or something.

                  That’s a mistake: they are politicians. Their words, facial expressions, and gestures have nothing to do with what’s going on in their brains. They do what needs to be done to appease one group or another. They send signals.

                • Malaclypse

                  Of course they did. So do most US politicians. But you still have not managed to name one position held by Moynihan that is liberal. Protip: when your heuristic would lead you to call Al Haig a liberal, you have a bad heuristic.

                • witless chum

                  J. Otto, Many liberals in the U.S. have supported Israel and continue to do so. However, if you post something critical of Israel nobody will respond by calling you a Republican. The way they would if you, while claiming to be a liberal, called for privatizing social security.

                  It’s one of those issues, like principled fiscal conservatism, anti-imperialism or anti-free trade, that doesn’t have much of a place in either major party in the U.S., so it doesn’t break down along liberal/conservative lines.

  • Steve LaBonne

    Shit. I hate it when I have to temporarily like an asshole like Bloomberg. ;)

    • DrDick


    • Anon21

      He was good on Cordoba House/Park51, too.

    • JL

      Same. I’ll give him his due here, he did right.

    • Marek


  • Speak Truth

    How many times have universities invited right-leaning guest speakers only to be shouted down or protested until the administration simply gives up?

    Here you complain about the right, but at the same time, the left does exactly the same thing.

    The left really needs a conversation with itself they really value free speech.

    • John

      I don’t know. How many times has this happened? You fail to provide any answers. Moreover, student led protests are not the same thing as politicians pressuring public universities to do something and threatening to take away their funding if they don’t.

    • rea

      The classic failure to understand the First Amendment.

      Freedom of Speach means no government action to suppress speach, e. g., no cutting the university’s budget in retaliation for having a controvrsial speaker.

      It does not prevent individuals who are not the government from booing a speaker off the stage, although that’s certainly discourteous.

      • OTOH, nothing says that other norms don’t intervene, even beyond courtesy.

        I don’t think there’s any violation of free speech (even more broadly construed that strict 1st amendment) or academic freedom to have a proviso in a campus code saying that some forms of protest are forbidden. For example, as a moderator of a talk given by a hated figure, I don’t think I would be out of bounds to e.g., close the session if it were made literally impossible for a protest. Or I might say, “We’ll allow 5 minutes of booing to make the point, then require quiet.” Or I might crank up the mike. If the speaker gives up, that’s a different story. But there are degrees of disruption to events that the university can try to quell or mitigate.

      • There’s one small issue here: CUNY, of which Brooklyn College is part, is a state-run insitution under the auspices of the NY Regents.

        So yes, First Amendment issues might apply here, as any repression could be viewed as having the tacit approval of the state.

      • Speak Truth

        The classic failure to understand the First Amendment.

        The first amendment speech rights have nothing to do with it. If the city council decides to pull funds, it’s not unlawful and not a breach of the second amendment.

        But instead of picking fine points, let’s talk about letting unpopular viewpoints be heard.

        And in that regard, the left has no room to talk.

        So shut your pie hole

        • sharculese

          So that’s a no on providing examples, then?

        • If you want that you have to buy Eli an apple pie then

        • Jay B.

          But instead of picking fine points, let’s talk about letting unpopular viewpoints be heard.

          And in that regard, the left has no room to talk.

          Like…For example…That time when the Left…

          And, which unpopular views? How unpopular? Are all these times you don’t mention in any way similar to talking about divestment? Any details would be awesome in your amazing, air tight case against the Left and their enormous hypocrisy when it comes to…What again?

        • cpinva

          why yes, yes it is.

          “The first amendment speech rights have nothing to do with it. If the city council decides to pull funds, it’s not unlawful and not a breach of the second amendment.”

          i’ll assume you meant first amendment, in the second sentence. and yes, it is. the first amendment doesn’t only apply to the federal government, it applies to the state and local governments as well. so yes, any effort, by the city council, to burden the university with specific requirements, for speakers engaged by said university, is a direct violation of the first amendment.

          and please, do tell, when have the “left” leaning governmental entities threatened to cut off funding, to a taxpayer subsidized activity, solely based on speech? provide specific, verifiable examples. failing that, retract the assertion, or just admit you’re a liar.

        • Bill Murray

          nice subtle sift from the first to the second amendment there, buddy. and now for some late lunch flapjacks

        • Anon21

          The first amendment speech rights have nothing to do with it. If the city council decides to pull funds, it’s not unlawful and not a breach of the second amendment.

          Oh, I like this mode of argument. “Our marriage vows have nothing to do with it, Julia! Sleeping with my secretary does not in any way abridge the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

        • Uncle Kvetch

          So shut your pie hole

          Yawn. Where’s the fun troll? Winchy Dagchester IV, Esq. doesn’t stoop to “shut your pie hole” when he digs himself into a fact-free hole.

          The poststructuralist/ultraconservative Catholic/bugfuck survivalist version of “because shut up, that’s why” is so much more entertaining than JenBob’s warmed-over Hannityisms.

          • witless chum

            Winchy’d at least link to that communist dude explaining why we all need to shut our pie holes.

        • arguingwithsignposts

          I just want to thank you for all the lulz this comment has engendered. If you weren’t real, I would wish someone would create you for the merriment, and pancakes.

    • Lurker

      Could you give an example where the university administration actually craved? While I think that this was, indeed, rather commonplace in 1970s, such protests are usually now disbanded by the campus police.

      • DrDick

        That was also the case in the 70s (when I was in college). People may have done it more, but they usually wound up thrown out or hauled off to jail.

    • somethingblue

      Endless forums on pancakes. Waffles totally shut out of the debate.

      Where’s the balance???

      • tonycpsu


        • Steve LaBonne
          • Crêpes Suzette

            Hey, what about me?

            • the lingonberry jam

              Bork bork bork!

              • Uncle Kvetch

                Scrapple! It’s offally good!

                • Malaclypse

                  You win.

                • Angus MacHaggis


                • Fan ta dig, får blåsa

      • Captain Splendid

        Freedom Croissants, bitches.

      • Eggomaniac

        I demand equal time.

    • Sherm

      I hope you enjoyed this yesterday.

    • DrDick

      Would you like some flip-flop flapjacks with that order of winging at imaginary threats?

  • wengler

    Bloomberg took the position to not join the campaign to censor the College. Bravo! More time to stop and frisk.

  • I strongly object to liberal and progressive politicians issuing demands to university presidents with regard to campus events involving conservative speakers, and threatening to cut public funds to universities unless they “balance” conservative speakers with liberals. I have spoken out against this consistently the never times it has happened.

    • Well the never times you heard of it happening!

      That’s the MSM for you!

    • John Protevi

      The eleventy-infinity never times!

    • Mudge

      A fundamental difference. You refer to balancing craziness with sense. In the Brooklyn case, they seek to balance the crazy with a different crazy.

      • CD

        This is Brooklyn.

    • Étienne Tempier

      Did you take a position when they went after me in 1277? Where were the so-called defenders of academic freedom then? Answer that, Aristotelian libtards!

      • somethingblue


        • Cody

          Adding imaginary numbers to someone’s internet score is downright insulting. All you’re going to change is the frequency of their posting!

          • Leeds man

            It’s more complex than that.

            • Atticus Dogsbody


      • Peter Abelard

        I was mourning the loss of my goddamn testicles is where I was. But I’m REAL fucking sorry that you had to listen to people saying mean things about your Condemnations.

        • Étienne Tempier

          True academic freedom is the freedom from heresy. Sic et Non had faulty premises at the very root. How can one question the omnipotence of God?

          • Peter Abelard

            Eat a big old bag of Neoplatonist dicks, buddy-boy.

    • Errrr, not for nothing, Mr Berube, sir, but….

      • Hogan

        So where are the liberal and progressive politicians making demands, or the threats to cut public funds?

        • Davis

          Correct, no demands were made by anyone:

          “McShane said preventing Coulter from speaking would “counter one wrong with another,” and explicitly stated he wouldn’t forbid the CRs from having her speak.”

          • “The College Republicans regret the controversy surrounding our planned lecture featuring Ann Coulter,” they wrote in a statement announcing the cancellation. “The size and severity of opposition to this event have caught us by surprise and caused us to question our decision to welcome her to Rose Hill.”

            • Hogan

              Uh huh. So where are the liberal and progressive politicians making demands, or the threats to cut public funds?

              • The student petition hints that tuition funding of the College Republicans should be reconsidered. Now, that’s not public funding, to be sure, but it is nonetheless communal funding.

                We owe it to the truth to be thorough in analyzing a stance that claims “zero” incidents.

                • Hogan

                  I would also say we owe it to the truth not to equate elected officials with the power to cut BC’s funding with students at Fordham who have no comparable power, and we owe it to Berube and to each other not to reduce his words to imprecise mush. He was pretty specific about what he said hasn’t happened. If you can’t be equally specific with your counterexamples, then you don’t get to be all preachy about truth and its obligations.

                • Malaclypse

                  Now, that’s not public funding, to be sure, but it is nonetheless communal funding.

                  That is a hell of a leap. By this logic, any boycott is a violation of the first amendment.

                • wengler

                  Ann Coulter doesn’t go anywhere for free. How much you want to bet that they couldn’t meet her quote and she pulled out?

                • arguingwithsignposts

                  If it were the Student Government, as holder of the purse-strings for student funds, making that threat, you’d have a real argument. As it is, you don’t.

      • Jay B.

        It’s shameful how Coulter is totally shut out in the marketplace of ideas. Why, I’ve never heard what she thinks about liberals. It’s a veritable mystery!

        • sharculese

          Remember when a Democratic president was accused of infidelity, and nobody would pay Ann Coulter to go on tv and talk about it?

          Dark days for the public discourse.

        • Loud Liberal

          Ann Coulter and the market place of ideas are mutually exclusive.

      • CD

        I now understand the function of Ann Coulter.

  • Matthew Stevens

    Give Bloomberg this: he’s infinitely preferable to Giuliani.

    Sadly, in this instance he’s preferable to Christine Quinn.

    • cpinva

      pretty low bars.

      Give Bloomberg this: he’s infinitely preferable to Giuliani.

      Sadly, in this instance he’s preferable to Christine Quinn.

  • AuRevoirGopher

    Bloomberg disagrees “violently” with BDS. Does this mean he’s going to show up at the event throwing punches and chairs?

    • Philip

      With a stick, of course.

    • Ian

      It can’t be metaphor, I think we’ve established that.

    • Left_Wing_Fox

      He means that he’s going to punch the idea itself right in the face. It’s be stupid awesome stupidly awesome.

      • He’s the Chuck Norris of mayors!

        • Western Dave

          But does he rescue people from burning buildings?

          • He doesn’t even stop his plane taxiing down the runway for them…

    • cpinva

      i expect he’ll pull a “clint eastwood”, and have a stern conversation, with an empty chair.

      • More likely, he’ll hire someone to fill that chair, and then promptly fire him.

  • Gus

    Give Bloomberg this: he’s infinitely preferable to Giuliani.

    A textbook case of damning with faint praise.

    • (the other) Davis

      The “infinitely” part is just an issue of dividing by zero.

  • dporpentine

    Sadly, Bloomberg is preferable to every single idjit likely to become the next mayor. Every single one of them.

    • Tom Allon. He’d be the first Republican I voted for mayor for-well, ever.

      Hell, I’d vote for Di Blasio over Quinn.

      • dporpentine

        Hadn’t looked into him, but I’d say he looks surprisingly okay. (He supports Occupy!? Isn’t openly hostile to public transportation?) Thanks for pointing me to him.

        • I only knew of him because he attended my high school alma mater.

    • mds

      Can we get Tony Danza to reconsider?

  • mds

    I mean, if you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea.

    Wow, Bloomberg really dislikes Christine Quinn, doesn’t he?

    • Believe it or not, he does not, but…

      He lobbied Quinn to ram through his third term. She did, in exchange (presumably) for his support…and fundraising Rolodex…for her run as his replacement.

      Her candidacy has slipped badly as she’s pulled a Koch: moved rightward to garner outer borough support. She’s lost her base, AND still hasn’t gotten hoi polloi support.

      She still leads in the polling but it’s early yet.

  • Give Bloomberg this: he’s infinitely preferable to Giuliani.

    Yes, and the flu is infinitely preferable to Ebola but I don’t want either of them, either. Bloomberg is a plutocrat of the worst stripe. He believes he’s “doing the right thing” but in the process rapes the poor and underclasses.

  • Anonymous

    This example of the Israeli ambasador’s cancelled speech would be relevant except that it happened in Scotland and it wasn’t liberal politicians who were exerting pressure to cancel the event. The group that claimed credit for canceling the event is described as the “Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a radical offshoot of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign”

    • Njorl


    • Richard

      Arab students at UC Irvine managed to stop the Israeli consul from speaking (by having Arab students, one by one, shout him down as he attempted to talk) but it certainly wasn’t “liberals” who did this or politicians. And the students were subsequently tried and convicted of a criminal act for their actions.

      Plain fact is that I dont believe there is a single example of a conservative speaker being prevented from speaking at a US college campus or of a conservative speaker being forced to have a liberal voice at a speech as a condition of being allowed to speak. Just hasn’t happened. Not to say that some conservative speakers such as David Horowitz haven’t been met by unfriendly crowds but no invitation to Horowitz was withdrawn because of liberal opposition.

      Kudos to Bloomberg and the Brooklyn College administration for doing the right thing.

      But perhaps too much is being made of this one event. BDS supporters and opponents of Israel speak at college campuses all the time. Chomsky, for example, speaks at college campuses all the time and has even spoke at West Point. The only reason this event got publicity is because Dershowitz inserted himself into it and because its mayoral election time in NYC and some opportunistic politicians are trying to pander to the Jewish vote.

      • BobS

        Chomsky is neither a BDS supporter nor an opponent of Israel.

  • Data Tutashkhia

    Bloomberg: big supporter of Israel, a hater of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Juche idea lives! I demand a balancing statement from the supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

    • Hogan

      I got yer statement right here.

      • Data Tutashkhia

        B-e-a-utiful, thanks. Wrong supreme leader, though.

        • CD

          But their academic decorum is pretty impressive.