Author: Zaid Jilani

The Woke Left v. the Alt-Right: A New Study Shows They’re More Alike Than Either Side Realizes

A common criticism of the ultra-progressive Left is that its culture warriors now resemble the right-wing ideological enforcers of yore, excommunicating those deemed to have sinned or performed heresies. Indeed, anyone older than 30 or so should have at least a dim memory of the social conservatives who wanted every aspect of American society—from universities, to the media, right down to the content of children’s television shows—hewing to the same family-values prayer book, and who led campaigns to censor violent video games, rap music, and edgy Hollywood entertainment. In 1996, Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole called out Time Warner for publishing hip hop music whose lyrics glamorized violence against police officers. (“I would like to ask the executives of Time Warner a question: Is this what you intended to accomplish with your careers? You have sold your souls, but must you debase our nation and threaten our children as well?”) A quarter-century later, it’s progressives demanding the cancelation of movies and TV shows that present the police in any kind of positive light (and numerous …

America Has Problems. Tearing Down Statues Won’t Solve Them

Earlier this week, a group of protesters involved in Black Lives Matter demonstrations spray-painted a statue of Winston Churchill in historic Parliament Square, adding the words “was a racist” under Churchill’s name. As critics of Churchill are quick to remind us, the former British prime minister supported the use of chemical weapons against rebellious Kurds and Afghans (though whether he advocated for the use of lethal gas is a subject of historical dispute). Churchill also supported Britain’s colonial grip over the Indian subcontinent. When Mohandas Gandhi began his series of hunger strikes in protest of British rule, Churchill’s casually morbid reply sounded like something you’d hear from an action-movie villain: “We should be rid of a bad man and an enemy of the Empire if he died.” Yet even Gandhi no longer gets a pass, apparently. In Washington, D.C., which also has witnessed protests, vandals defaced a Gandhi statue outside the Indian embassy. The motivations aren’t clear, but it’s believed they relate to Gandhi’s prejudiced views toward black Africans during his time as a South …

America’s Black Communities Are Suffering. Violent Protests Will Make the Suffering Worse

Protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin—an act that prosecutors describe as murder—have devolved into violence. Numerous small businesses have been destroyed, and at least one elderly shopper at a Target store was assaulted. A man has been shot dead. This pattern of events is familiar because it has repeated itself numerous times over American history following acts of police brutality, especially in cases where, as with Floyd, the victim was black. First, large numbers of people protest peacefully, drawing attention to their cause and attracting national sympathy. Then, a smaller group turns violent, causing destruction in the community and sometimes harming innocent people. That smaller group sometimes includes people who exploit the chaos for their own ends. During the Baltimore riots of 2015, for instance, the looting of pharmacies led to opioids and other drugs flooding the market, likely feeding drug dependency, enriching gangs, and fueling more crime. In the 1960s, thousands of Americans took part in non-violent protests in opposition to segregation. Their …

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: COVID-19 Shows We Can’t Have It All

In late March, as many US jurisdictions finally began to enact social distancing and stay-at-home directives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas’s Republican Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick, appeared on the popular Fox News program Tucker Carlson Tonight to offer a dissenting voice. “I turn 70 next week,” Patrick said, noting that older people are at greatest risk of death. “I’m not living in fear of COVID-19. What I’m living in fear of is what’s happening to this country… No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, ‘Are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.” Patrick went on to argue that America’s elderly should be more willing to put their lives on the line to keep the economy going for the young: “My message is, let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living, let’s be smart about it, and those of us who are …

Corporate Subservience to China Exposes the Hypocrisy of Woke Capitalism

China’s suppression of political dissent within its borders is old news. But more recently, the Chinese government has managed to project its power across the world—and even into the heart of an iconic American business sector: professional basketball. The saga began when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey—a well-known figure within the National Basketball Association (NBA)—Tweeted support for ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The Chinese consulate in Houston signaled its displeasure, with a statement indicating that it had “lodged representations and expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Houston Rockets, and urged the latter to correct the error and take immediate concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact.” Morey seemed to receive the message. He hastily deleted his Tweet. But the NBA—which is the most popular sports league in China—paid a price anyway. A series of NBA events in China were abruptly canceled, and a number of firms suspended co-operation with the Rockets. Two days following Morey’s Tweet, the NBA released an official statement distancing itself from the Rockets GM, lamenting that Morey’s pro-democracy statement has …

Why I Don’t Live in Fear of White Supremacists  

The 21-year-old terrorist who attacked an El Paso shopping center on August 3 was a white supremacist who believed that the United States is experiencing a “Hispanic invasion.” He also expressed support for an even deadlier hate crime that had taken place months before: the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 51 innocents were killed and another 49 injured. Hate criminals tend to inspire one another. And in the months since the Christchurch slaughter, there have been widespread fears that we may be on the cusp of a new global epidemic of racist killings. These fears are encouraged by the sense of immediacy that results from the 24/7 social-media coverage of such tragedies, which overwhelms the insulating effects of geography. Immediately following the Christchurch killings, for instance, the Chancellor of University of California, Berkeley, where I am employed, felt required to send an email to all students, staff and faculty condemning the attack, and offering up a suite of mental health and diversity resources for members of the University community—particularly Muslims. I thanked …

Don’t Blame Police Racism for America’s Violence Epidemic

In political debates about incidents of police officers shooting and killing Americans, a consistent narrative has emerged: There is an epidemic of white police officers targeting unarmed African Americans—the reason being that America’s police forces are so racially biased that they value the lives of blacks less than they value the lives of whites. Given the horrifying history of racism in the United States, this was never a far-fetched thesis. This phenomenon is at the heart of Black Lives Matter, a movement that has pushed media and politicians to consider the issue of police abuse as a matter of racial injustice. “Black men, unarmed, black teenagers, unarmed, and black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement without accountability and without justice,” then-Texas Democratic congressman and now presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke told an audience last year. O’Rourke made the statement as part of a larger speech in support of NFL players such as Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during the national anthem to protest racism …

What Does Teaching ‘White Privilege’ Actually Accomplish? Not What You Might Think (Or Hope)

I recently attended a Washington-D.C. event focused on community-building hosted by The Aspen Institute’s Weave project, which works to reduce social isolation and build bonds between Americans. During one portion of the event, various activists described how racism had impacted their lives and their communities. Following a number of such testimonials, a white woman from southeast Ohio named Sarah Adkins spoke about her own community work, which involves raising money to provide post-trauma support to individuals affected by tragedies. Perhaps because several speakers had discussed racism and issues related to white privilege, Adkins spoke about her own self-perceived racial privilege. “I followed the perfect mold…I did all the things, I went to college, and I keep thinking of white privilege in my head so forgive me, that’s what’s in my head right now, very much white privilege,” she said, while reflecting on her middle class life in an affluent neighborhood. But Adkins also went on to describe the reason she originally had become involved in community work—which is that her then-husband had killed both of …

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 …