Let me get this right. Kyle Kashuv was second in his class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a 1550 SAT score and acceptance at Harvardfairly typical credentials for students at Americas oldest university. David Hogg, attending the same high school and a classmate of Kashuv, was a dramatically weaker student grade-wise, with, according to news reports, a much less impressive 1270 SAT score, over one standard deviation below the average SAT score of those accepted at Harvard. While a good, well above average high school student, Hoggs academic credentials strike me as typical of a Floridian who might attend Florida State University or the flagship University of Floridabut definitely not Harvard. Hogg also is a progressive student who demanded gun control in the aftermath of the Douglas high school shooting tragedy and became a liberal media darling, while Kashuv is a conservative who after the Parkland shooting advocated for school safety measures (subsequently adopted by Congress), but said banning guns was not the answer. What is the bottom line? Hogg will be going to Harvard this fall, but Kashuv will not, his admission rescinded. It seems like having the correct (politically left) political views helps get into Harvard while having conservative views clearly is detrimental.
To be sure, there is a respectable argument that Kashuvs acceptance should have been rescinded, because as a 16-year-old high school student, he revealed appalling immaturity (not an uncommon teenage trait) and lack of judgment in writing private derogatory racist comments that were sent by others years later to the media. He used the N word a dozen times. He also used some anti-semitic expressions, perplexing since Kashuv himself is Jewish. But to me, based on news accounts, he seemed to show genuine remorse and even anguish over this shameful behavior and says, and I am inclined to believe him, that he is not a racist and certainly not anti-semitic (as he often attends his synagogue). I think David Brooks of the New York Times got it right when he said: sin is an opportunity for redemption. Bright teenagers are capable of quickly learning from immature behavior arising out of adolescence. I have seen bratty immature kids go into the Army and return, a couple of years later, as mature, disciplined adults. Similarly, out of the trauma of the Parkland shootings, both Hogg and Kashuv reinvented themselves, turning typical teenage kids into public media attractions, quickly maturing to speak up on issues of the day, albeit from different political perspectives. Kashuv became active in a conservative group for young people, Turning Point USA, while Hogg spoke up frequently and rather effectively for his cause, gun control. Both these 18-19-year-old men, David Hogg and Kyle Kashuv, are vastly more mature individuals than they were only 2-3 years earlier.
Nonetheless, I have the impression that Harvard transmits the vibe that the people of Harvard are not only intellectually but also morally superior to others today, and also unfortunate Americans from the past who lived during bigotry and oppression. Harvard seems to say, we are politically correct academic aristocratic leaderswe love racial minorities, hate guns, despise Harvey Weinstein and even sanction faculty wanting to provide him legal representation, etc. This unrelenting sense that Harvard promotes the goodness of the most virtuous philosopher kings as opposed to the crassness of the little people is profoundly anti-democratic and grating to ordinary Americans, those living in that vast wasteland between Harvard and Stanford, the ones who elected Donald Trump president of the United States. It is partly why public support for higher education is declining at a time it is most needed.
Two other thoughts. We are becoming much less respectful of free speech, even abhorrent free speech, in our country, to our long term detriment. Second, in light of the Varsity Blues admissions scandal and this latest brouhaha, I think Cal Tech is rightadmit students almost entirely on their academic qualifications. End holistic admissions based on some individuals assessment of a persons worth, an assessment working to the detriment of conservatives like Kashuv and brainy Asian Americans who allegedly lack leadership qualities as perceived by the minions working for William Fitzsimmons, the gatekeeper deciding who enters the gated academic community in Cambridge known as Harvard University.
Read my earlier post on Harvards terrible decision to revoke the deanship of law professor Ronald Sullivan.