June 26, 2011

In News

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.


Mirene Ghossein