Racism Is Not a Youthful Indiscretion; It Is a Deeply-Ingrained Mindset
We’re having this debate again, aren’t we? About how statements made in the past reflect who we are today, about how long in the past those statements need to be before we can evaluate whether the person has actually changed, and where is the line between youthful indiscretion and mature adult.
This time it concerns Kyle Kashuv, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who had his admission to Harvard revoked after some of his past racist comments came to light. Let’s put aside the fact that Harvard admitted a pro-gun rights advocate who spoke for the NRA after 17 people died in his school in a mass shooting, which to me reflects a complete lack of common sense. Let’s also put aside the fact that Kashuv was a member of the conservative group, Turning Point USA, which has a history of widespread racism, enough so much that, if I didn’t want to be perceived as racist, I wouldn’t join an organization that is perceived as racist.
Let’s focus instead of those comments he made when he was 16. If you haven’t seen the actual comments themselves, holy shit. It wasn’t like he dropped an n-word here or there, or even that he let one slip in a moment of anger (which would assuredly reveal a deep level of racism), the kid rattled off a string of them in a shared class document for everyone in his group to see, ironically in a midterm study guide for AP History. (He also used pretty vile, mysogynistic language in that doc, too). In that same document, he dropped the n-word again and also said that he should draw a map of his school in a shooting video game and would “Kill all the f**king Jews. F**k the Jews.”
I mean … that was not language he was trying to hide. He proudly said those things for an audience.
Meanwhile, in a text message to a friend, Kashuv said of a female student, that she “goes for n***erjocks.”
That was enough for Harvard to rescind their admission to Kashuv and stir another new round of debate where honestly there should be no debate.
A quick note on callous comments I made a few years ago in high school that are circulating. pic.twitter.com/E6Ki6XIhtc— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) May 23, 2019
Kashuv has apologized and said that he has “matured” and “grown” in a “drastic way,” and it would have to be drastic because those comments reflect racism down to the bone. Those were three recorded instances. Someone who is that liberal with the use of the n-word, who casually says “kill all the f**king Jews,” and who has a shorthand of black athletes doesn’t just utter the n-word for shocking effect, a person like that almost certainly uses the N-word frequently and with casual indifference. That sh*t comes from the parents, and their parents, and their parents. I mean, how was he not immediately suspended from school for writing that in a Google class doc?
Anyway, he didn’t really help himself even in front of a friendly Fox News television audience.
Never thought I’d love a clip from Fox News, but this one really makes me laugh. pic.twitter.com/FNGRLckUZt— Jensen Karp (@JensenKarp) June 18, 2019
Naturally, the right — led by Ben Shapiro — is coming to the defense of Kashuv, arguing that Harvard’s standard is “insane and cruel,” because asking a student not to repeatedly use the n-word is definitely an “insane and cruel” standard.
Regardless of what you think of @KyleKashuv — and for the record, I think he, like many other Parkland survivors, has handled the public limelight with grace and strength — Harvard's auto-da-fe sets up an insane, cruel standard no one can possibly meet. https://t.co/zgL26OPaSZ— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 17, 2019
Next interview someone really should just read this back to him: “so just for clarity, here’s what you wrote: “…n*gger, n*gger, n*gger, n*gger, n*gger, n*gger, n*gger, n*gger, n*gger, n*gger, n*gger, like I’m really good at typing n*gger ok like practice uhhh makes perfect…” https://t.co/ivIq4y3xtR— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) June 18, 2019
Shapiro, and others, also use a lot of whataboutism in their arguments, marshaling as evidence Governor Ralph Northam’s blackface and John Cusack’s anti-semitic tweet last night as an example of liberals who get away with racism, as if it wasn’t liberals who tried to force Northam’s resignation and that are raking Cusack over the coals today.
I mean, look: I did some stupid sh*t when I was 16 that would’ve gotten my admission pulled from Harvard, too (in fact, a friend who pulled that same stupid sh*t with me had his admission to West Point pulled), but those were the reckless, destructive, vandalistic acts of teenagers. This is a goddamn mindset, one bolstered by his association with Turning Point USA (and his support for Trump/Pence, by the way).
I’m confused by white people who say it’s normal - even for teens - to use the N-word. That’s not just stupid or offensive: it’s white supremacy. If parents aren’t teaching kids that, then the lessons and consequences will truly feel harsh. But isn’t that the point of a society? https://t.co/1A4lA91ys6— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) June 17, 2019
When you look at the timeline for the kid whose Harvard acceptance was revoked and see him wishing happy birthday to Trump and Pence pic.twitter.com/dtKsFj6jh1— Sarah Carlson (@sarahkcarlson) June 18, 2019
Besides, it’s not like Kashuv has actually illustrated that “drastic change” in the last two years.
Can people grow and learn? Absolutely. Did Kyle? Not at all. This kid used his platform to practically bully everyone who didn’t agree with him KNOWING he had 200k+ followers that would attack us and send us death threats (yes, that happened) and he didnt feel bad for it at all.— lex (@witchyactivist) June 17, 2019
There was also the time someone sent me a picture of their AR-15 and said they couldn’t wait to use it on me or something along those lines and I got their account suspended because I was genuinely scared— lex (@witchyactivist) June 17, 2019
tl;dr: This is a dumb debate to be having. Kashuv is not a victim. He is a bully. Also, a white boy with a large conservative backing will manage to fail upwards just fine.
Header Image Source: Getty