Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Is Harvard Still Harvard?

How long will it be before Harvard is no longer Harvard. It is currently being sued for using unfair standards when judging the applications of Asian students. On that score it is not alone. Then it removed Dean Ronald Sullivan from his position at Winthrop House for having defended an accused criminal. Now, it has changed its mind about admitting Kyle Kashuv to the Freshman class… because he used racist language in a Google chat room when he was 16.

And also, it must be noted, because Kashuv, a student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was one of a few students to defend the second amendment. Thus, he did not blame the NRA for Nikolas Cruz’s massacre.

Lest you miss the larger point, Harvard admitted David Hogg, one of Kashuv’s fellow Parkland students after he became the spokesman for the anti-gun movement. Of course, Hogg, a student of limited academic abilities, had, before he took up the right cause,been rejected by the California State at Long Beach.

One understands that Hogg and his fellow radicals were happy to ignore the fact that the local and national police authorities were well aware of Cruz’s wish to wreak mayhem at the high school… and did nothing.

The New York Times reports on the disparities:

Two other prominent Parkland student activists, Jaclyn Corin and David Hogg, both of them vocal proponents of tighter gun restrictions, are headed to Harvard this fall. Mr. Hogg, who is completing a gap year, garnered attention when he announced his acceptance last year after being rejected from other schools, including from California State University at Long Beach. On Monday, Mr. Kashuv’s defenders noted that Mr. Hogg had a 4.2 grade point average and scored 1270 on the SAT test, while Mr. Kashuv said in the interview that he had a 5.4 G.P.A., and a 1550 SAT score.

As for the question of merit, Hogg had none to speak of. Kashuv was an outstanding student. Does Harvard still believe in accepting students on the basis of merit.

As you know by now, Kashuv did not merely limit himself to racist language. He also indulged in anti-Semitic language. But then, to buttress his contention that he was simplyu indulging a perverse adolescent game, Kashuv pointed out that he is an observant Jew.

The Google Doc comments were made late at night as the students tried to outdo each other with outrageous remarks, Mr. Kashuv said in the interview on Monday, describing himself as thoughtless and immature at the time.

“In the same document, I said a bunch of anti-Semitic stuff,” he acknowledged. “That’s not who I am. My parents are Jewish. I’m Jewish. I go to synagogue every single week now — I’ve been going the past few weeks.”

As for the individual who exposed Kashuv’s derelict behavior, her name is Ariana Ali. Of course, no one cares about her behavior. One suspects that she is not Jewish:

Ariana Ali, the former schoolmate who posted video of the messages on Twitter, declined to elaborate on Monday beyond praising Harvard’s rescinding of Mr. Kashuv’s admission offer.

“He’s being held accountable, & I think the consequences were necessary,” she said in a direct message on Twitter.

So, the moral issue is simple. The Times reports:

And the rescinded offer raised a question uniquely relevant to the digital age: To what degree should the pronouncements of young people who routinely document their thoughts online — in this case, in a private study document shared with a few classmates — follow them into adulthood?

We no longer forgive and forget, unless the perpetrator resides on the political left. We make this distinction because the Democrat governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam included racist photos on his law school yearbook page.

At the time he did this he was considerably older than the sixteen year old child, but, beyond a few pro forma denunciations, he is still governor of Virginia. And the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Justin Fairfax, was credibly accused of sexual harassment, if not assault. And he is still in his office.

Moral standards for thee but not for me. That is one lesson of the Kashuv issue. Some behaviors are unforgivable, unless you align with the correct political causes.

David Brooks raises another important issue here. He raises the issue of moral character, and whether, effectively, it develops as one corrects a series of errors:

This case has nothing to do with free speech. Harvard clearly has a right to disinvite students who violate its standards. I’d say, rather, that the decision, which Harvard is not commenting on, may reflect a misunderstanding of how moral character develops….

In a sin-drenched world it’s precisely through the sins and the ensuing repentance that moral formation happens. That’s why we try not to judge people by what they did in their worst moment, but rather by how they respond to their worst moment. That’s why we are forgiving of 16-year-olds, because they haven’t disgraced themselves enough to have earned maturity.

Someone should have corrected Brooks’ bad metaphor-- a sin drenched world-- but in large part, he is correct. And yet, we know of cases where someone is effectively judged ill for having committed a murder or a rape… and is incarcerated for a very long time. Fair enough, when sentencing comes, remorse counts, but there are sins and there are sins. Some are frankly unforgivable, even if the perpetrator lived an exemplary life before he opened fire.

Yet, Kashuv's behavior does not count as a crime, even for an adult. It is not criminal behavior, unless it is accompanied by a criminal act. In that case it turns an ordinary crime into a hate crime.

We condemn racist language because if functions like a malediction, designed to hurt other people. Thus, we reject it and shun those who use it. And yet, we also allow bigots to apologize, to repent, to make amends and to return to society. If we do not, we are saying that we are treating them like reprobate criminals. We make exceptions for certain artists who use bigoted language in their work.

Of course, we are dealing with a sixteen year old here. That is, with a child. And Harvard is telling the world that it will grant special consideration to children who take up the correct political causes and will grant special punishment to children who take up the wrong political causes.

Obviously, Harvard is rich enough to get away with this. It has garnered a reputation for excellence over centuries. And yet, a good name is not forever. But, if Harvard keeps this up, it is not going to be Harvard for very long.


sestamibi said...

I thought his name was Nickolas Cruz.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

It was, without the c... correction made... thank you.

Sam L. said...

Harvard is still Harvard, but it's sinking fast.

B. said...

Harvard accepted Jazz Jennings. That’s all we need to know.

Ubumaccabee said...

I’m trying to find the “racist language” this young man used on the map on this sin-drenched world, but I just can’t seem to find it anywhere. We need a lesson in sin, and evil, for that matter. Evidently the last century was not as instructional as it appeared at the time.

Sam L. said...

Harvard is...Harvard-ISH.