Stanford University

‘Black Lives Matter,’ Stanford Applicant’s ‘Essay’

Ziad Ahmed is one lucky young man. Earlier this month, Stanford University invited him to join its Class of 2021. While this alone is a huge and rare honor, what generated headlines was the essay on Ahmed’s application. Asked “What matters to you, and why?” the Princeton, N.J., high-school senior wrote: “#BlackLivesMatter.” And then he repeated it 100 times.

“I didn’t think I would get admitted to Stanford at all, but it’s quite refreshing to see that they view my unapologetic activism as an asset rather than a liability,” Ahmed told Sarah A. Harvard of the website Mic. Ahmed, a Muslim American of Bangladeshi descent, pointed out why his essay was nothing more than an exercise in mindless duplication:

“The insistence on an explanation is inherently dehumanizing,” he said. “Black lives have been explicitly and implicitly told they don’t matter for centuries, and as a society — it is our responsibility to scream that black lives matter because it is not to say that all lives do not matter, but it is to say that black lives have been attacked for so long, and that we must empower through language, perspective, and action.”

Now that prose, whether you consider Black Lives Matter a civil-rights organization or a band of racial arsonists who inspire fatal attacks on law-enforcement officers, would have been worthy of a college-admissions application. Instead, Ahmed, who interned on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, produced something reminiscent of the sets of standards that Bart Simpson writes on the chalkboard at Springfield Elementary School. For instance:

I saw nothing unusual in the faculty lounge.

I saw nothing unusual in the faculty lounge.

I saw nothing unusual in the faculty lounge.

I saw nothing unusual in the faculty lounge.

I saw nothing unusual in the faculty lounge.

I saw nothing unusual in the faculty lounge.

Ahmed’s “essay” also recalls a shocking scene in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 thriller The Shining. Mentally disturbed author Jack Torrance (menacingly portrayed by Jack Nicholson) has been very busy writing his new novel on his typewriter. It turns out that page after page after page of his manuscript reads:

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

It would have been one thing if Ahmed had composed a coherent essay on why he supports Black Lives Matter. He could have presented an argument and supported it with evidence and passion. He could have been persuasive and maybe even educational.

Instead, he cut and pasted a hashtag — 100 times.

How brilliant.

This is the mind-numbingly repetitive analog to the story about the student who sees this question on his Philosophy 101 final exam: “What is courage?” He simply writes: “This is.”

One wonders if Stanford would have accepted a pro-police student who had written 100 times, “Blue lives matter.” How about an applicant whose essay read 100 times “The South shall rise again”? Would Microsoft Word’s cut-and-paste function have worked its magic in those cases?

Ziad Ahmed is incredibly fortunate to have been accepted by Stanford. That distinguished university, with which I have been affiliated as a media fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, has a finite number of spots for incoming freshmen. Ahmed, who is not black, was offered a seat that could be filled by an equally or more qualified black applicant who bothered to write an actual admissions essay. In this sense, Ziad Ahmed’s accomplishment is not just outrageous. It is a genuine example of racial injustice.

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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