Bloomberg on point

The most significant speech delivered this graduation season may well have been former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's commencement address at Harvard University.

While news coverage focused on Mr. Bloomberg's chastisement of liberal students and faculty members who refuse to listen to the voices of those with which they disagree, the speech in truth criticized the growing tendency on both the left and right to block out arguments and evidence that challenges ideological orthodoxy.

This newspaper agrees wholeheartedly with Mr. Bloomberg that it has been disturbing to see a number of college commencement speakers withdraw or have their invitations rescinded because of their political positions or policies. Universities cannot allow themselves to become liberal bastions intolerant of opposing views.

"A university cannot be great if its faculty is politically homogenous," said Mr. Bloomberg. Can anyone honestly disagree?

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice withdrew from her plan to speak at Rutgers after students and faculty complained and threatened to disrupt proceedings. At Smith College, Christine Lagarde, the first woman to head the International Monetary Fund, withdrew after a student petition argued that she not be allowed to speak due to IMF policies.

In October, students shouted down former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as he tried to deliver a talk at Brown University. They objected to his department's stop-and-frisk policies. We do as well, but it is an outrage to block him from expressing his views.

In his Harvard address, Mr. Bloomberg also pointed to conservative "ideological stubbornness" that shuts out scientific evidence on climate change and evolution. He pointed to disgraceful legislation that bars the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health from conducting studies on gun violence from a public health perspective.

Those are also forms of shutting down an exchange of ideas.

Too many people, noted Mr. Bloomberg, "don't listen to the facts that run counter to their ideology. They fear them."

We urge those of all political stripes to take Mr. Bloomberg's advice to "weigh arguments without prejudging them" and remain open to the possibility that "the other side might actually make some fair points."

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.


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