June 07, 2009
Last month the left wing blog, One People's Project, posted a story about one Marcus Epstein. Within this story it was reported that two years ago next month Marcus assaulted a black woman in Georgetown calling her the "n" word.
That blog and its hundred spinoffs then got to the juicy part of the story: Marcus Epstein is executive director of The American Cause, founded by Pat Buchanan and of Team America, founded by Tom Tancredo.
With respect to the incident I have been asked not to comment by Marcus' attorney since the case is still pending. But putting the incident aside, the stories about Marcus were for the most part inaccurate and incomplete. Yet the left wing bloggers ran with this little factoid because the assailant worked for organizations associated with Pat Buchanan and Tom Tancredo.
What happened next was a modern day lynching by a faceless, angry, ignorant mob who reveled in the collective assault on their victim. They had wounded an adversary and drawn blood—without pausing to ask how so talented a young man could have found himself in such a mess.
I am telling his story because Marcus Epstein deserves to have his good name returned to him.
I run both the organizations Marcus works for. I have known him since he came to me as a college grad and asked to be an intern for The American Cause. That was three years ago. I knew of the assault the day it happened and was with Marcus the following day.
I write this story not as an excuse for Marcus' actions. There is no excuse. Marcus would be the first to admit this, and he has, many times.
Marcus is half Jewish, and half Korean. He has a pronounced speech impediment, an exceptional mind, and a remarkable talent for writing. But it was only after this incident that I came to fully appreciate his finest qualities.
In his final semester of college Marcus awoke in a deep depression. He had no idea what was happening to him. He only knew he couldn't do his work. Some days he couldn't get out of bed. That summer he began the long process of diagnosis—bouncing from one doctor to the next, from one medicine to the next.
While his intelligence and ability were evident, Marcus had serious problems. He drank to excess and suffered periods of deep depression. One Sunday early in 2007 Marcus called and asked if he could come to my home to talk. He was afraid of what he might do if he were alone another minute.
As he sat in my living room my heart broke. Never had I seen a person in so deep and dark a place. He spoke for hours of being a failure and disappointment to family and friends. He didn't think he could live in this tomb of despair any longer.
After exhausting himself emotionally he went to one of my spare bedrooms to sleep. He stayed several months and left only when he felt he was strong enough to be on his own again. But the demons were too great.
Early one Saturday evening, several months later, I received a call from a friend of Marcus'. "Marcus is in jail," he told me. The two of them had gone to Georgetown to have a drink before joining others for dinner, he explained. When they left their drinking hole, however, Marcus was completely intoxicated, nearly incapable of walking. It was then that the incident occurred.
Marcus was arrested and released that same evening. Unable to face this new level of disgrace and failure, he went to his office where he drank to make the pain go away—for good. He was hospitalized for a week. His parents flew into town, conferred with Marcus, his doctors and his friends. It was clear. Marcus urgently needed professional help.
Marcus agreed and spent six weeks in a California facility. I told him if he did so he would have a job to come back to. In the last two years I have seen a transformation. He joined a 12 step program for alcoholism, attends meetings several times a week, and volunteers at detox and rehab facilities to help others struggling with alcoholism.
As for the assault Marcus was charged and a plea bargain was worked out.
It took Marcus a year after this incident to start thinking about a future. He took the LSATs and was accepted at the University of Virginia Law School on early admissions. The presence of a strong recovery community was one of the reasons he chose UVA and was ready to move to Charlottesville next month.
But the Left doesn't care about any of this. They kept moving this little tidbit, watching it ricochet around their shallow world in the blogosphere, until it landed on a popular site for incoming law students. There individuals who claim they're interested in carrying-out justice in this world saw to it that Marcus paid again for his offense. With nothing but a skeleton of a story they initiated a campaign targeted at UVA's Admission Office. And they won—Marcus will not be attending UVA Law School in the fall.
Marcus Epstein is one of the bravest young people I have ever known. He deserved a second chance—as do all of us.
Bay Buchanan is President of The American Cause