JFK’s Harvard Entrance Essay Resurfaces, Is Branded ‘Peak White Mediocrity’

(AP Photo/File)

John F. Kennedy’s application essay for Harvard University has resurfaced, and it ain’t exactly Proust. The 17-year-old JFK, of course, did not yet have Ted Sorensen around to write ringing prose for him, so he had to make do on his own. The essay is fairly typical for a student of middling interest and ability and would be completely insignificant had its author not become president of the United States. Its circulation on social media over the last few days, however, became the occasion for a display of the casual racism that now permeates American society — real racism, that is, not the kind that the Left claims to see everywhere but that really doesn’t exist at all.


JFK sat down to knock out his admissions essay on April 23, 1935, when no doubt he would have preferred to be out on the lawn playing some touch football or seeing what the local girls were up to. He had to answer a simple question: “Why do you wish to come to Harvard?” The future president, never known as a great intellect, was able to muster all of five sentences for his answer, one of which was made up of the announcement that he actually had more than one reason for wanting to attend Harvard. “The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard,” Kennedy wrote portentously, “are several.”

Anyone who has spent any time teaching high school recognizes that sentence as a space-filler, a time-waster that gives the appearance that the student is saying something, without actually providing any substance (Kamala Harris has carried this art into her celebrated political career, as her frequent word salads demonstrate). But then JFK righted his PT boat somewhat, continuing: “I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university.” Praising Harvard: good approach. He decided to keep on in the same vein: “I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer.” But what now? How about the legacy angle? “Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a ‘Harvard man’ is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.”


Far more interesting than JFK’s essay was the reaction to it, which included a tweet from the digital media platform Mashable weekend editor Chance Townsend: “If you want to see peak white mediocrity, here’s JFK’s Harvard admission essay.” Townsend later deleted this tweet, but the New York Post caught it, and it’s striking not because JFK’s essay isn’t mediocre — it most certainly is — but because of Townsend’s casual, offhand racism: Kennedy’s composition isn’t just “mediocrity,” it’s “white mediocrity,” as if to say that not only does it reflect Kennedy’s privilege, but his white privilege.

Related: Stupid or Dishonest? Schumer Falsely Claims Supreme Court Was All White Until 1981

There is no doubt that John F. Kennedy was a privileged individual. At the time he wrote his essay, his father was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and was to go on to greater things, which essentially meant that JFK’s admission to Harvard was a lock. He could have written, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” five times for his entrance essay and would still have been admitted. But Chance Townsend, a thoroughly modern Leftist, sees everything, literally everything, through the prism of race, and so that’s how he sees JFK’s essay as well. The fact that millions of white people weren’t in JFK’s position and would never have gotten into Harvard after writing exactly what he wrote matters not a whit; it’s still all about Kennedy’s whiteness.


Townsend’s phrase, “peak white mediocrity,” isn’t his own: it turns out it’s a common phrase among Leftists, and has been applied to Trump’s entourage, Bill O’Reilly, Logan Paul, and many others.

A search for the phrase “peak black mediocrity,” on the other hand, turned up nothing. On the Left today, which means in American popular culture in general, contempt and hatred for white people are taken for granted and make one trendy, edgy, and fun. Contempt and hatred for any other group, of course, are branded as racism and land one outside the pale of polite society and all common decency. If the New York Post had quoted someone referring to black people the way Chance Townsend did to whites, it would be faced with censure, protests, and demands that it close its doors, but Townsend’s racism passed without notice.

The double standard is so obvious that most people don’t even notice it, any more than they notice the air they breathe. But this is the society the Left has created. Those who ultimately defeat it will be those who believe in those old, archaic, forgotten principles of the equality of dignity and rights of all human beings.


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