September 26, 2012

Letter to the Editor: An Open Letter of Apology

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To the Editor:

Re: “Posing as Professor, Cornell Alumnus Slams Jewish Student’s Religion in Email,” News, Sept. 21

Upon watching the disgust, pain, and anger unfold on campus regarding my email to Nicole Barel two weeks ago, I was taught some very important lessons about the power of words and their effect on communities and cultures.  I’ve sent individual letters of apology to all involved, and I wanted to speak to everyone as a whole.

It started with an email from Ms. Barel asking for a few days off from class for the upcoming Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  It got sent to me by the accidental addition of a digit, and I decided to reply to her as a prank.  I quickly grabbed Prof. Bruce Monger’s basic information (Name, dept, phone) from the Cornell website and set the display name on my email to “Bruce Monger” [side note: Cmail shouldn’t allow this].  I was in no way trying to place any blame on Prof. Monger – in fact, I’ve heard he’s one of the nicest teachers on campus and offered an additional lecture for students observing the holidays.

I did not accurately judge the damaging nature of the words that I wrote back, and as a result Ms. Barel became rightfully enraged with my writing.  I never meant for any part of the email to be an attack on her character, but as one of my friends pointed out, the Jewish religion is deeply intertwined with the Jewish race, the culture, and the long history of an entire country of people.  By attacking her religion, I had inadvertently attacked her, her friends and family, the community at Cornell, and Jewish people worldwide.  For this I am very sorry and I apologize.

I have no good answers for why I’d write such a piece; it’s not reflective of my view of Judaism or the Jewish people, and I’m not normally a mean or insensitive person.  I can only hang my head in shame in seeing the pain I’ve caused the community, and offer my humblest apologies to all.

Cornell is a wonderful place — I’ll admit I did not think about the how the ripples of what I had written would spread through the community, and I only have myself to blame.  I did not mean to cause such anger, pain, and sadness, and I do not wish to be looked upon for the rest of my life as an anti-Semitic adolescent hiding behind a computer screen.

One of the core tenants of Yom Kippur is repentance.  I only hope that all those who I have offended choose to see that a terrible action does not make a terrible person, and offer me their forgiveness.  I am truly, truly, sorry.

Brian Mick ’10