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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.


Comments (109)

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  1. Glenn says:

    Bravo to Bloomberg for this.

    • david mizner says:

      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 says:

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

      • actor212 says:

        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.

      • J. Otto Pohl says:

        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 says:

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

          • J. Otto Pohl says:

            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 says:

              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.

              • J. Otto Pohl says:

                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 says:

                  Could you identify a recognizably liberal position that he held?

                • J. Otto Pohl says:

                  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 says:

                  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.

                • J. Otto Pohl says:

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

                • Data Tutashkhia says:

                  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 says:

                  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 says:

                  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.

  2. Steve LaBonne says:

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

  3. Speak Truth says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

      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.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        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.

      • actor212 says:

        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 says:

        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 says:

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

        • Eli Rabett says:

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

        • Jay B. says:

          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 says:

          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 says:

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

        • Anon21 says:

          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 says:

          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.

        • arguingwithsignposts says:

          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 says:

      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.

    • somethingblue says:

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

      Where’s the balance???

    • Sherm says:

      I hope you enjoyed this yesterday.

    • DrDick says:

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

  4. wengler says:

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

  5. 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.

  6. Matthew Stevens says:

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

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

  7. AuRevoirGopher says:

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

  8. Gus says:

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

    A textbook case of damning with faint praise.

  9. dporpentine says:

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

  10. mds says:

    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?

    • actor212 says:

      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.

  11. actor212 says:

    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.

  12. Anonymous says:

    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”

    • Richard says:

      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.

  13. Data Tutashkhia says:

    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.

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