In the 14 months since the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, Kashuv, 18, has become the only prominent Parkland survivor turned activist to come down on the gun-rights side of the debate; schoolmates of his such as David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, and Cameron Kasky have become high-profile advocates for stricter gun legislation. As a supporter of stricter background checks but also armed teachers, the elimination of gun-free zones, and heightened school security, Kashuv stands in contrast to the majority of the gun-safety activism that grew out of the shooting at his high school. In doing so, he’s become something of a folk hero for other conservatives and gun-rights advocates.
Read: Harvard’s drastic decision
Last month, a former classmate of Kashuv’s disseminated screenshots of text messages and Google docs in which a 16-year-old Kashuv had allegedly written racist slurs. Kashuv was revealed to have repeatedly written nigger in the screenshots; he tweeted an apology statement at the time. But as he revealed on Twitter yesterday, the admissions team at Harvard, where Kashuv was planning to matriculate next year, contacted him soon afterward. They had received complaints and wanted an explanation.
In a Twitter thread, Kashuv released copies of the letter he sent to Harvard’s dean of admissions. “Let me first state that I apologize unequivocally for my comments, which were made two years ago in private among equally immature high school students,” his multiple-page letter began. He went on to describe how surviving the shooting at Stoneman Douglas had forced him to mature quickly into someone who does “not recognize the person who wrote those things.” He also tweeted the text of an email he sent to the Harvard Office of Diversity and Inclusion, promising to visit its office upon arriving on campus. Still, after reviewing Kashuv’s explanation, Harvard notified him earlier this month that his offer had been revoked.
A number of prominent conservative figures have since argued online that Kashuv deserves forgiveness, not further punishment, from the Harvard admissions office because he took responsibility for his behavior and apologized. Erickson, in a blog post on The Resurgent, wrote that “Kyle apologized and is clearly not the same person he was then.”
“Hopefully this terrible decision by @Harvard will be reversed. We all have a past and we all have done and said things we regret. He has apologized and become an extraordinary young person,” tweeted Dave Rubin, the host of the right-leaning YouTube show The Rubin Report. “Now the mob wants to make forgiveness a sin, too.”
Some have argued that Kashuv’s repeated use of the racist term, because it took place in private and not in public, should be considered a juvenile mistake rather than a hostile act. “So if you say something terrible in a private chat room when you’re 16, then get outed by political opponents, Harvard tosses you?” tweeted Ben Shapiro, the editor in chief of the conservative website The Daily Wire. In a story for The Daily Wire, Shapiro again emphasized the private nature of Kashuv’s use of the racist slur: “He didn’t commit a crime; he didn’t espouse his gross views publicly; his behavior since has not mimicked any of the content or attitude of the comments.”