To the Editors of The Crimson
S. Allen counter's recent letter to The Crimson shows gross professional miconduct on Dr. Counter's part and makes it clear that he is not suitable for the job of director of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relationsd.
Because he is director of the Foundation and a member of the Harvard faculty and administration, a certain set of expectations applies to Dr. Counter. It is entirely improper and totally unprofessional for Dr. Counter to make serious allegations against specific student group (never mind that most of them are untrue) and to make any sort of disparaging comments about the words of any Harvard student.
Instead, it should be Dr. Counter's role, as the Harvard official responsible for celebrating diversity and encouraging good race relations, to try to work constructively with communities and individuals whether or not they share his views on race relations. It is Dr. Counter's role to build bridges, not to burn them.
In his letter, Dr. Counter refers to comments I made in a Foundation-sponsored December 11, 1991, meeting on race relations (which he refers to as "recent") about the marginalization Jews in the United States feel when Christian holidays are celebrated as public holidays.
My comments were expressed in order to explain to the non-Jewish members of the discussion group that Jews do not feel like they have totally "made it" in America and so can understand-to a degree-what other minorities are going through. Dr. Counter, however, implies that my comments were complaints of inaction directed at the Foundation.
Dr. Counter goes on to denigrate my comments as having "not promote[d] further discussion of race relations among students in attendance."
I believe they did promote discussion, but that is not the issue. The issue is that Dr. Counter, who announced to the discussion group that he was there as an observer, is totally out of line in publicly printing my comments without checking their accuracy with me (one might assume that Dr. Counter's memory may be incomplete four months after the fact), twisting them to suit his own goal of asserting that Harvard Jews have an agenda of publicly criticizing the Foundation's work (an assertion that is completely unsubstantiated in Dr. Counter's letter), and then calling my contribution to the discussion unproductive.
Even worse, by using my comments in an attempt to illustrate how campus Jews have an interest different from that of the Foundation. Dr. Counter supposes that I speak for the Jewish community. I do not.
Similarly, Dr. Counter insinuates that Jewish Crimson writers cannot be objective. Both of these are dangerous charges, charges, and it is ironic that they should be made by man whose job it is to celebrate differences and not to propound the idea that differences necessarily lead to antagonism.
In addition to his unprofessional conduct with regard to my comments, Dr. Counter's letter is full of lies, including the assertion that "The Crimson frequently cities the Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel...as one of the student groups that is dissatisfied with the Foundation's work." In fact, The Crimson has never so cited Hillel, and I challenge Dr. Counter to produce such articles.
It has becomes clear that Dr. Counter is no longer a suitable Director of Harvard's racial diversity organization. At best he is out of touch with today's racial climate, willing to make accusations about campus groups based on sloppy research or outright lies, and is engaged in publicly putting down individual students.
At worst, Dr. Counter's letter insinuates a Jewish conspiracy on campus between Hillel and The crimson (led by "Crimson writers active in Hillel), trying to put forward a "racial agenda" different from that of the Foundation.
Having devoted my entire college career to building a racial climate of mutual respect and understanding, all the while believing that this was also Dr. Counter's goal, his letter leaves me utterly devastated. His behavior is immature and shocking coming from a Harvard official.
Dr. Counter has delivered the biggest blow to race relations at Harvard in the four years I have been here.
I believe he ought to resign immediately from his post as director of the Harvard Foundation so as not to taint the Foundation's fine and important work. If Dr. Counter chooses not to resign, I believe the administration and the student community should call for his dismissal. Daniel J. Libenson '92