June 26, 2011
Dear Stephen Marsh,
I carefully read your correspondence with Dr. Finkelstein, posted on his website. The difference in tone and style between your June 9 letter and the subsequent ones is the first thing I noticed, possibly because of a sentence I heard repeatedly in high school “ Le style c’est l’homme même” ( Buffon). If Buffon is right , there is more than one Stephen Marsh . I’m writing to the to the Vice President of The Yale Political Union, who invited Dr. Finkelstein to “lead off one of the debates “ of The Political Union. The invitation letter shows a clarity of purpose and style which says quite a bit about you. You wrote : “We would be very interested in hosting you around the time of the U.N. General Assembly vote on Palestinian statehood; we currently have September 20th available on our schedule, but if that date does not work for you, we would certainly be eager to host you in early October as well” . I also read Steve Stanford’s comments which , using quotes from both your letters and Dr Finkelstein’s, unmistakably show that “ At no time in the correspondence did Dr. Finkelstein decline “ your invitation for either September or October. If anything Dr. Finkelstein tried to accommodate you to the very end, until you ran out of excuses.
My comments are of a personal nature. What happened to one of the “brightest and most politically engaged students at Yale” between June 9 and June 15 ? What made you extend an invitation, recant , finding one excuse after the other , none holding up under scrutiny, as clearly demonstrated by Steve Stanford . As a political and cultural activist, I often struggle to make sense of the world we live in and would like to believe that students hold a promise. A promise based on ideals and principals which might inform their future actions . After all , many of you have “ the potential to become leaders in public service in America and the world.”
“…leaders in public service in America and the world.” Therefore, how disappointing indeed to realize that a student, a Yale student no less, is already using the same tactics as our politicians : they make promises, fail to deliver and come up with unconvincing excuses to explain their failure.
By June 15 you were scrambling for excuses and apologies : ” I forgot to check about the logistics “…” Again, my deepest apologies for the mix-up, it’s entirely my fault, and I’m sorry for wasting your time”…” I made a mistake”…”Deepest apologies for all the mess” . Is this the same Stephen Marsh who wrote on June 9 an articulate letter ? If indeed you, alone, were responsible for “the scheduling mess” , as your multiple apologies imply, you can easily repair the damage by keeping your word : “ I’ll let future officers know about your interest when we plan further debates “ . However if you were forced to cancel Dr. Finkelstein’s invitation , if you were used as a scapegoat, don’t you think that setting the record straight would be the right and dignified thing to do ? As for Dr Finkelstein, whether he speaks at Yale or not, his “ place in the whole history of writing history is assured “ ( Raul Hilberg) . Yours, on the other hand is about to start . Your life and career are ahead of you, which course will you choose? You may want to take a hint from Dr. Finkelstein and stand up for the truth . If I’m not mistaken, you might even welcome the feeling of coinciding with the Stephen Marsh of the June 9 letter.