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NYC Mayor Bloomberg at UNC graduation: “Zombies and Humans” good prep for Washington DC

May 14, 2012

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered yesterday’s 2012 commencement address at the University of North Carolina during which he used the word “zombie” to make a political joke and argue for liberalism.

It is a mostly mundane run-of-the-mill liberal arts graduation speech filled with the overblown language of liberalism and Polonius-like advice. The NYtimes blog rightly highlights Bloomberg’s impassioned defense of expanding civil rights in the state whose voters literally just last week rejected gay marriage. But Bloomberg quickly moves on to cell phone technology (“arguably the greatest invention the world has ever seen”) and global information sharing, claiming that “we’re all computer nerds now”, and that the “technological revolution” (in “government laboratories” and “Steve Jobs garage”) will be “our most powerful weapon in the fight against poverty and disease” and against “intolerance and repression”.

First, like most commencement addresses, the Mayor opens with some inside jokes that relate to the U.N.C. undergraduate experience (“the UNC groove”):

I know this is only one of the many challenges you have overcome on the way to your diplomas today. You have battled your way through trying to find a parking place on campus. You’ve battled your way through trying to register for classes on Connect Carolina. You have battled through living in Hinton James and having to walk in the rain to an A.M. class at Graham Memorial. And you’ve battled your way through many games of “Zombies and Humans“. Now I have to admit I’d never heard of that game but it does sound like good preparation for anyone that will be moving to Washington D.C

Humans vs. Zombies is a tag game played on college campuses.

Bloomberg concludes with lessons from Carolina basketball in a Tarheel acronym: Teamwork, Assist, Risk, Hustle, Elbow, Education, Love.

He notes: “lawyers always have to be involved in everything we do … to protect patents and of course fight off other lawyers”.

And that “only a lack of education can hold you back in America today” – “failure is the world’s best teacher” – “Education is a lifetime journey”

In speaking about expanding rights and “freedoms won by their parents and grandparents” he said: “exclusion and equality are mortal enemies … last week’s referendum banning same sex marriage shows just how much more work needs to be done to insure freedom and equality for all people.”

There is some irony when he says (early in the speech during his nod to Mothers day) that we’re: “not even thinking about what it cost to get to this day, or what happens if you can’t get a job and have to move back home”. He makes a point of mentioning New York City’s recent arrangement with Cornell and Carnegie Melon to bring more science research to NYC but he, of course, made no mention of the biggest organizational development out of New York this past academic year. No mention of Occupy Wall Street or Occupy or student/labor protests at all. Of course, No mention of rising college costs or the emerging student debt crisis.

HuffPo last year had a reference to Zombie Mayor Bloomberg specifically in connection to Occupy activities. In The Psychometer Ranks Undead posted Halloween 2011:
“Zombie Occupy Wall Street protesters are still butting heads with the zombie police… But Zombie Mayor Bloomberg weighed in…”

Bloomberg zombies have also appeared before, Zombergs, in a 2009 youtube video from the NYC Village Halloween parade with reference to his changing the laws to get himself elected for a third term

Also in the UNC speech Bloomberg says: “pragmatism not partisanship” – “think for yourself” – “decide for yourself” – “I was a Democrat before I was a Republican before I became Independent and I never changed my principles.” And: “the world is competitive … the business world is dog eat dog and government it’s exactly the reverse” – “don’t let the bastards get you down.” “go with your gut”.


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