Bloomberg blasted college campus 'intolerance' in blistering 2019 op-ed

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has had "enough" with the idea that some speech equates to violence.

Bloomberg wrote in an op-ed that the ability to disagree without becoming enemies is an "urgent civic imperative."

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has had “enough” with the “intolerance” on college campuses.

In a recent op-ed, Bloomberg took on everything from viewpoint diversity -- or the lack thereof -- on college campuses to the trend of recent boycotts against businesses over their owners’ political giving. 

”Take recent demands to boycott businesses whose investors have voiced support for the president,” Bloomberg writes. “The question is not whether business boycotts are legitimate. The question is whether Americans can live and work together without being so absolutist about politics and intolerant of viewpoint diversity.”

Bloomberg adds that “healthy democracy is about living with disagreement, not eliminating it.” 

[RELATED: OPINION: Free speech on campus is in danger, and the problem starts at the top]

He specifically calls out institutions of higher learning by saying that “one of the most disturbing ­aspects of the retreat from liberal political discourse can be found on the training grounds for tomorrow’s leaders: college campuses.” 

The former mayor recalls the introduction of the Chicago Statement, which promotes free and open inquiry on college campuses, and how only 67 out of 4,000 universities across the U.S. have so far adopted the Chicago Statement. Bloomberg said the lack of support among colleges for the Chicago Statement is one reason for the “intolerance” seen today on college campuses. 

Bloomberg also calls out the notion that certain words equate to physical violence, a belief he says is now “commonplace.” 

”As a result, the range of views needing to be suppressed, rather than entertained, challenged and refuted, is vast,” Bloomberg says.

”It makes little difference whether radical intolerance of disagreement is based on an exaggerated desire for ‘safety’ or grounded in a more elaborate, but no less bogus, theory of speech-as-violence,” Bloomberg writes. “It also doesn’t matter whether it springs from hatred of President Trump or devotion to him. Regardless, this kind of culture cannot sustain a liberal democracy.”

[RELATED: VIDEO: Students say offensive speech is not free speech]

Demanding silence from those with whom one disagrees will result in “fracturing the country even more deeply,” the former mayor says, adding that such an environment is one where “demagogues of the left or right will certainly prosper.” 

”Enough with ‘speech is violence,’” Bloomberg writes, adding that “restoring the ability to disagree without becoming mortal enemies is a new and urgent civic imperative.”

Editor’s note: This article was initially published on Sept. 17, 2019.

Follow the author of this article on Facebook: @JonStreetDC and Twitter: @JonStreet