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In praise of Michael Bloomberg

November 24, 2019 pm30 7:37 pm

Nah, I’m not nuts. I’m not voting for the guy. Neither should you. I don’t support him. Never have, never will.

The worst thing about him? So many choices. But I focus on education. His legacy in education is disorganisation and destruction, and we are still suffering the consequences.

So, actually, this praise is very short. There’s just two things I will mention.

In 2012, while mayor, Bloomberg came to my high school’s graduation, and delivered an address.

Before I go further, you might be wondering, did I just sit back when Bloomberg invited himself to our graduation? Some days before graduation a Unity stalwart discussed the matter with me, and afraid I might disrupt the ceremony said “But Jonathan, you have to be reasonable” “No,” I replied “no I do not.” And that’s important. But I did not disrupt the ceremony, as good as that might have made me feel, because it would not have made the kids feel very good, and because it would have been an individualistic act. Teachers in my chapter proposed and produced UFT colored lapel stickers saying “Respect Teachers” which most of us wore (I know the two who did not), and which were clearly anti-Bloomberg, and which students and parents remarked on after the ceremony.

Back to Bloomberg’s address. Our valedictorian in 2012 was headed to Johns Hopkins. Bloomberg is an alumnus. He said something nice about our student, and about the institution, and then remarked “I won’t say how I did at Johns Hopkins, beyond mentioning that the top half of the class would not exist without students like me.”

Praise point #1 – Michael Bloomberg told a self-deprecating joke that was genuinely funny.

While mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg presided over a disgusting police program of randomly intimidating youth, especially Black and Hispanic boys. His Stop and Frisk policy targeted others, but the focus was clearly young Black men.

Last Sunday, Bloomberg apologized. The apology, some said, was late. It was almost – almost – beside the point. Maybe five million apologies, personally delivered to each of his victims – maybe that would cut it. But then he wouldn’t have time to run for president, which may be the only reason he apologized at all. Maybe some sort of reparations fund? I like that. He can afford it, and the precedent it would set…

For the last almost three years, racism has been getting worse in America. Trump has fomented it. Republican leaders have supported it, or remained criminally silent. No question.

But where’s Buttagieg’s apology for the events in South Bend? And let me keep going – we have Hillary’s apology for using the term “superpredator” – but how many Democrats have apologized for Clinton crime bill? (1994, that accelerated mass incarceration). Biden helped write the bill, and issued a non-specific semi-apology last January, but still defends the bill. Sanders voted for it, and defended his vote, but I heard that just last week Danny Glover, speaking as Bernie’s surrogate, said that he was ready to apologize for it. Here’s the clip (starts at 4:50) – it doesn’t sound to me like an apology is in the works. And hey, apologies are apologies, but where’s the repeal?

Trump’s presidency has been disastrous for hate crimes. Far right groups have become bolder. Roll back your memory to 2016. The Black Lives Matter movement had momentum. Shouldn’t we expect a leader of BLM on stage during the debates? Instead, I fear, momentum has been lost. The “moderate” candidates side-step the issues. I have been told on several occasions that defeating Trump is so important that race needs to take a back seat – as if they should not be tightly linked.  So here goes:

Praise point #2: Vile Michael Bloomberg, whom I would never support, put the mistreatment of young Black men front and center, if only for a moment, which is more than most of the “field” has done.

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