Author: Zaid Jilani

Why Does Ralph Northam Deserve No Mercy?

Over the past week, Virginia’s Democratic Governor, Ralph Northam, has been engulfed in a firestorm. It follows the publication of a medical-school yearbook page of his that shows two individuals, one dressed in blackface and one in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. It is not clear from the photo whether Northam is one of these two individuals, or why he chose to include this image on his yearbook page. Upon the revelation of the photograph, the Governor issued a lengthy apology for the content of the page, which was published 35 years ago. He said he was “deeply sorry,” and called the costume “clearly racist and offensive.” He promised the people of Virginia that he would make amends: “I accept responsibility for my past actions and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust.” Virginia’s state Senate Minority Leader, Richard Saslaw (a Democrat), issued a statement noting that Northam has opppsed racism as a public official, and that his behaviour from decades ago simply had no relation to who he is now: …

To Honor Murder Victims, Stop Fixating on the Race of Their Killers 

On December 30, a 7-year-old Houston girl named Jazmine Barnes was killed in a drive-by shooting. Witnesses to the crime, including family members, pointed out that a white man in a pick-up truck had fled the scene. This became the profile authorities used to pursue the shooter. Witness testimony often is unreliable, but it is perfectly valid for such accounts to serve as the basis for a police search. The tip soon took on a life of its own, however, when a plethora of liberal celebrities and activists jumped to the conclusion that Barnes, an African American girl, had been murdered by a white man consumed by racism. The story soon was being treated as a “national story about race and violence.” A lawyer for the victim’s family stated that there could be no rationale for the killing “other than hate.” The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights definitively claimed that Barnes had been killed when “a white gunman fired into her mother’s care.” It used the hashtag #SayHerName, a throwback to a Black …