A survivor of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, is doing damage control — and garnering sympathy where he can — after past bigoted comments cost him his admission into Harvard University.
Kyle Kashuv, who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2017, has apologized and asked for forgiveness amid fallout over his resurfaced remarks, including one message in which he repeatedly used the n-word.
“I’m extremely sorry for it and wish I could take it back, but I can’t,” Kashuv told Fox News host Ed Henry on Monday. “All I can do now is seek to right the wrongs. And I know forgiveness isn’t given, it’s earned. I know that the person who wrote those things is not who I am today.”
In a series of Twitter posts, the 18-year-old revealed that Harvard had withdrawn its offer of acceptance after damning screenshots of him using racial slurs surfaced late last month. Kashuv, who became known nationally for his conservative activism after the Parkland shooting, tried explaining away his guilt, saying he was just 16 when he made the “egregious and callous comments” among friends, months before the bloody massacre that claimed 17 lives.
The teen said he “immediately apologized” after being reminded of his remarks and attempted to appeal the university’s decision. However, the damage had already been done.
“After I issued this apology, speculative articles were written, my peers used the opportunity to attack me, and my life was once again reduced to a headline,” Kashuv wrote in a Twitter post. “It sent me into one of the darkest spirals of my life.”
In a statement to Atlanta Black Star, a Harvard spokeswoman said the university “doesn’t comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants,” but noted that it “reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission.”
In a separate tweet, Kashuv seemingly shamed the university for its decision to drop him, arguing that “Harvard deciding that someone can’t grow, especially after a life-altering event like the shooting, is deeply concerning.
“If any institution should understand growth, it’s Harvard, which is looked to as the pinnacle of higher education despite its checkered past,” he added.
In his interview with Henry, Kashuv explained that the comments were made in a group chat where he and his friends would say “the most shocking” or extreme thing just for the fun of it, later reiterating that he was “extremely sorry” for his words.
A skeptical Henry pointed out that Kashuv had used the “N-word 11 times in a row” and questioned whether the teen was truly apologetic.
“You certainly sound heartfelt, but you want to get something –– you want to get into Harvard or get into another school,” said Henry. “And so how do we know that you’re not just saying ‘I didn’t mean it’?”
Kashuv acknowledged that what he said was clearly “indefensible and wrong,” and pointed out that since the shooting, he’s spoken out against racism and bigotry.
In both his tweets and the Fox News interview, Kashuv, 18, brought up Harvard’s “dark past” and how it was founded by slave owners and has a history of racism. The teen argued that just because the university has a dark history doesn’t mean it’s “irredeemable,” however Henry quickly pointed out that the two cases weren’t the same.
“You mentioned they had slave owners in the 1600s,” Henry said. “You used the n-word what, a year, year and a half ago?”
“Two years ago,” the teen responded.
The host circled back to his first question and pressed Kashuv on what specifically has changed for him in the last two years “that you would no longer use the n-word.”
Kashuv said he’s “matured tremendously” since the incident and no longer keeps company with those who act like “idiotic children.”
“I never wanted and never quite frankly wanted to be in the position,” he added. “I’m not an entertainer, I’m not an actor. I’m a kid who went through a tragedy who saw the suffering that the community went through and doesn’t want to see it for any other community.”
Watch more in the video below.