April 25, 2008

Letter: Zhao a poor candidate but not worthy of ridicule

I read with dismay the treatment of Nick Zhao in your Tuesday paper this week (“Executive Slate and Liaison Candidates Debate” and “Student Government Endorsements,” 4/22/08). I wholeheartedly agree that he is not a good candidate. I object, however, to his ridicule.

Specifically, the statement made in the front page news article is unfortunate: “The points made by the fourth undergraduate liaison candidate, second-year Nick Zhao, were scattered and only marginally responded to most of the questions posed.” This is a valid opinion, and one I’m inclined to agree with, but it really doesn’t belong in a neutral news article. It is unlikely that a New York Times report on a Democratic debate would be written, “Kucinich marginally responds to most of the questions posed” (even though it’s pretty true)—although this is perhaps not a paper the Maroon strives to emulate.

More importantly, the allegations of anti-Semitism should come with adequate explanations, or a statement from Nick, if possible. I don’t know the context of the comments (no context was given in the article, and I don’t know Nick), but oftentimes statements like these are misinterpreted. The Maroon’s editorial claims that he has “failed to provide a compelling explanation.” This may be true, but I have no way to judge because the news article only referred to his comments as “anti-Semitic” and left it at that. Rumors like these can have a hard way of dying, and Nick might end up fending off funny looks at parties, already given a prejudice he has not had an opportunity to explain in print. I, for one, don’t like anti-Semites and already view him at a disadvantage.

The treatment of Zhao in the editorial was a bit much. At first I laughed, but I believe this comment to be made in bad taste. It’s one thing to recommend not voting for a candidate. It’s another to “strongly recommend not, under any circumstances, voting for second-year Nick Zhao.” He has an absurd and incomprehensible mission statement, and would really make a poor addition to Student Government. But picking on a ridiculous candidate is unprofessional and ignores other issues.

Kevin Brown

Class of 2009