If you don’t know the name Monica Hesse, don’t berate yourself unduly. I never heard of her myself until I saw her byline above an opinion piece that ran in yesterday’s Washington Post. I still don’t know much about her except that, according to her Post bio, she was educated at Bryn Mawr College and Johns Hopkins University, both prestigious institutions of higher learning, and is a columnist for the paper’s style section. I also surmise, based on the tone and tenor of her column, that she suffers from a god complex.
Kyle Kashuv, the antagonist of her sanctimoniously titled op-ed, “So, what should we do with the Kyle Kashuvs of this world?” is a survivor of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting who was admitted to Harvard University before he was un-admitted on June 3. The motive for the university’s recission of his acceptance, he acknowledges, was the airing of “egregious and callous comments classmates and I made privately … when I was 16 years old … in an attempt to be as extreme and shocking as possible.”
A great many people from all over the ideological spectrum have weighed in on Kashuv’s verbal offenses, examples of which the HuffPost dug up and published, as well as Harvard’s reaction. Some, like Fox News Channel’s Jesse Watters, supported the university’s decision, opining:
Harvard can do what it wants. It has no obligation to accept this kid, you can rescind it for any reason. He’s a high-profile young man, obviously a very bright man, but I don’t think it does Harvard any good to bring someone who has that inflammatory profile into the community.
Sometimes life is about facing the consequences for what you do, and I’m sure he will be successful later in life.
Others, like Larry Strauss, a high school English teacher and author, wrote an article for USA Today titled “Harvard should have stuck with Kashuv. We can’t educate only students who need us least.”
But Monica Hesse goes far beyond merely adding her opinion to the mix, treating Kashuv as a curious specimen (a parasite?) that “the world” must decide how to dispose of. (Thankfully she stops short of recommending a “final solution.”)
After revealing her position in the opening paragraph (“using the n-word 12 times in one sentence is not a youthful indiscretion … and its offensiveness is not under debate”), she devotes the bulk of her musings to determining a fitting punishment for Kahuv:
… I’m still at a loss about what to do with a situation like Kyle Kashuv’s. And not in some what-is-the-meaning-of-redemption way. But practically speaking: Unless we seal them all in a cave, people who do bad (but not illegal) things are going to continue to be part of our society. What do we think that should look like? What is your personal vision?
University of Florida? I saw someone suggest that as a possible destination for Kashuv. The argument went that Kashuv shouldn’t be rewarded with the prestige of the Ivy League, but maybe could go off to some less illustrious institution, where he could then continue to work on himself.
I actually saw a fair number of suggestions like this: Not Harvard. Somewhere else. Somewhere less good. The solution seemed reasonable, but it had a tinge of classism, an element of passing the buck. If you don’t believe that Harvard students should have to attend classes with someone who has used racist terminology within the past two years, then why would you subject University of Florida students to that? Or students from Beloit or Colorado State? Would those universities even admit him, or would they follow Harvard’s lead?
Is the right answer an online-only course via University of Phoenix? Is the right answer a stock boy job at Walmart? Why would we subject Walmart employees to the guy? Are we back to the cave solution?
Luckily for her, she acknowledges at length that she’s getting carried away with herself:
If I were listening to myself, now is when I’d tell myself to stop with the hyperbole: Nobody is talking about sealing anyone in a cave. …
Nobody but her.
Too bad she didn’t follow up on her own advice and delete this mess from her computer.
Putting aside the sheer audacity of Hesse’s sitting in judgment of a teenager guilty of a youthful indiscretion — and, yes, “using the n-word 12 times in one sentence” when you believe no adult is looking or listening is precisely the sort of thing kids who have learned better do — where does she get off deciding which of society’s “miscreants” should be banished to a leper colony?