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Kent State
May 4, 2006 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Kent State, May 4, 1970 Today is the 35th anniversary of the Kent State shootings (via Wood s Lot) Alan Canfora who faced the troops, eyewitness photographs the search for historical accuracy and the legacy
posted by robbyrobs (141 comments total)

 
Weren't the guardsmen regarded as heroes by a lot of the country at the time?
posted by DougieZero1982 at 8:36 AM on May 4, 2006


Actually, I think it is the 36th anniversary. We had the 35th anniversary post last year:

I can't find any major news outlets mentioning that today is the 35th anniversary of the Kent State killings, when national guardsmen troops fired a fusillade of live bullets at unarmed students protesting the invasion of Cambodia. Not everyone has forgotten. A new documentary, "Fire in the Heartland: A History of Dissent at Kent State University 1960-1980" was screened on campus today.
posted by tizzie at 6:34 PM PST - 23 comments

Of course, the best annual Kent State post was this one:

kent state slayings. oh, i remember it well....any thoughts from the younger generation?
posted by billybob at 8:51 AM PST - 2 comments
posted by dios at 8:38 AM on May 4, 2006


Weren't the guardsmen regarded as heroes by a lot of the country at the time?

Not by many. Shooting college students in the streets, even for Nixon's "silent majority," was generally regarded as beyond the pale.

It was one of those tipping-point moments when the Big Picture became more clear even to political moderates, as the government's response to Katrina was more recently.
posted by digaman at 8:44 AM on May 4, 2006


"Actually, I think it is the 36th anniversary. We had the 35th anniversary post last year"

Maths is hard.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:44 AM on May 4, 2006


No, I think it is the 35th anniversary. The 1st anniversary was in 71. You don't count 1970 as the first anniversary.
posted by ruthsarian at 8:54 AM on May 4, 2006


No, that would still be 36 years.
posted by Plutor at 8:58 AM on May 4, 2006


It's the 35th anniversary of the 1st anniversary.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:00 AM on May 4, 2006


Weren't the guardsmen regarded as heroes by a lot of the country at the time?
posted by DougieZero1982 at 8:36 AM PST on May 4


I can think of a few people today who still probably regard them as heroes.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:06 AM on May 4, 2006


Funny synchronicity via iPod: I was heading in to work this morning and was surprised by another song I forgot was on there, Slow Down Gandhi (you're killin' 'em) by Sage Francis:
and from up here i see the marines in hummers on a conquest.
underdogs with wonderbras in a push up contest.
all for the sake of military recruitment.
it felt like kent state the way they targeted the students.

so i galloped off whistling "ohio."

the rest of 'em were stuck doing stand up at a cricket convention.
who would they die for?
is it the same machine that leaves the quality of life poor?
an abominable colony of cyborgs
clogging up the property that i bought with eye sores.
I only bring it up because the Kent State reference, at the time made me do a double take, but thinking back I'm not sure why it stood out or what --if any--further thoughts I had about it. That's why they call synchronicity I guess.
posted by illovich at 9:09 AM on May 4, 2006


I wish people would break down the "hard hat riots" of NYC. Anyone else find it disturbing that senior citizens, white collar workers and construction workers beat the hell out of any long haired youth they could get ahold (including women).


posted by DougieZero1982 at 9:23 AM on May 4, 2006


"I think it is the 35th anniversary. The 1st anniversary was in 71. You don't count 1970 as the first anniversary."

Follow along, now.

1970 Event
1971 1
1972 2
1973 3
1974 4
1975 5
1976 6
1977 7
1978 8
1979 9
1980 10
1981 11
1982 12
1983 13
1984 14
1985 15
1986 16
1987 17
1988 18
1989 19
1990 20
1991 21
1992 22
1993 23
1994 24
1995 25
1996 26
1997 27
1998 28
1999 29
2000 30
2001 31
2002 32
2003 33
2004 34
2005 35
2006 36

Ta-da!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:26 AM on May 4, 2006


I was standing around with a bunch of cops the following day, a high school student who had just cut his hair to "shadow" cops, teachers, social workers etc for a while.

One cop said, "Anyone that goes out on the street dressed like a clown deserves to be shot."

The hippie/authority dichotomy of those days can hardly be overstated.
posted by kozad at 9:26 AM on May 4, 2006


DEVO's Jerry Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh were there when it happened. Gerry even graduated.

From the Vermont Review:

VR: Going back to your early days. You were present at the Kent State shootings in 1970. How did that day affect you?

JC: Whatever I would say, would probably not all touch upon the significance or gravity of the situation at this point of time? It may sound trite or glib. All I can tell you is that it completely and utterly changed my life. I was white hippie boy and than I saw exit wounds from M1 rifles out of the backs of two people I knew. Two of the four people who were killed, Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause, were my friends. We were all running our asses off from these motherf&*$#ers. It was total utter bullshit. Live ammunition and gasmasks – none of us knew, none of us could have imagined. They shot into a crowd that was running. I sopped being a hippie and I started to develop the idea of devolution. I got real, real pissed off.

...

VR
: You said that the Kent State shooting sort of served as a catalyst for your theory of Devolution, which spawned Devo.

JC: Absolutely. Until then I was a hippie. I thought that the world is essentially good. If people were evil, there was justice and that the law mattered. All of those silly naive things. I saw the depths of the horrors and lies and the evil. In the paper that evening, the Akron Beacon Journal, said that students were running around armed and that officers had been hurt. So deputy sheriffs went out and deputized citizens. They drove around with shotguns and there was martial law for ten days. 7 PM curfew. It was open season the students. We lived in fear. Helicopters surrounding the city with hourly rotating runs out to the West Side and back downtown. All first amendment rights are suspended at the instance when the governor gives the order. All of the class action suits by the parents of the slain students were all dismissed out of court because once the governor announced martial law, they had no right to assemble.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:27 AM on May 4, 2006


My memory doesn't include anyone painting the guardsmen as "heroes"...

Granted I was a student at the time, and had participated in my share of demonstrations, but even the "old people" back then were appalled at this event, I believe it was a turning point in the effort to end the war.

What would the response be now, who knows, I'm betting that most of this country has become so accustomed to abuse of power through violence that it would have the same media half-life as any of the other murders, abuses, injustices that we read about every day and then forget a day later.

I would again encourage folks to be in D.C. on May 13th for the Military Families Speak Out event, we've got our own war to stop.
posted by HuronBob at 9:28 AM on May 4, 2006


I resent having to keep my hair short like a Roman.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 9:28 AM on May 4, 2006


The hippie/authority dichotomy of those days can hardly be overstated.

Very true. I think it's impossible for anyone who grew up later than the '70s to have any grasp of the depth of the divisions of society back then.
posted by languagehat at 9:29 AM on May 4, 2006


I was maybe 12 or 13 at the time, and the night after it happened I spoke with one of the eyewitnesses on the phone. It was terrifying, but just seemed like one part of the Dark Cloud of Evil that was enveloping the country at the time, in the wake of the assassinations of MLK and RFK, Altamont, and other awfulness.
posted by digaman at 9:32 AM on May 4, 2006


re: "divisions of society"

If I walked off campus in 1970, I would be told by every adult male I passed to "get a haircut".

I was not allowed inside a bar in Toledo (the closest place for a 20 year old to drink legally), because my hair was too long.

But... ya know what, I would trade the hatred we have today for that crap in a heartbeat.
posted by HuronBob at 9:33 AM on May 4, 2006


yes indeed.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:35 AM on May 4, 2006


Kent state was a revelation, at least for white folks, that the government would actually kill you for disagreeing with their policies.

The aftermath in the weeks following was also enlightening as tanks faced down students on many campuses in scenes reminiscent of Tiananmin square.

Students seem much more passive today, but maybe it is because 50,000 haven't died yet and none of them are at risk of joining that number.
posted by JackFlash at 9:39 AM on May 4, 2006


wait, wait, slow down! So was 2005 0 years, or 2 years ago?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:39 AM on May 4, 2006


NPR did an excellent story last year.
posted by scubbadubba at 9:41 AM on May 4, 2006


Even if I had two sets of hands and another foot, I'd still be flummoxed by this conundrum. Thanks, Crash!
posted by crunchland at 9:42 AM on May 4, 2006


2005 was 4 months ago.

Since they put out this weathermen documentary it seems like there's been some effort to think about those days in terms of the violent domestic protest. I wasn't there but I always thought the main thing was the nonviolence, and they wanted to stop the real violence of the war, and the bulk of it was small social rebellion of dress code, or smoking pot, or sit-ins and music.
posted by nervousfritz at 9:43 AM on May 4, 2006


I was in an undergrad English class when the news of this came. I had been in a number of anti-war demonstrations in the LA area, and this felt like the last straw. Of course it wasn't.

The protests did nothing to shorten the war, which continued for a number of years more. . .

The more things change, huh?
posted by Danf at 9:49 AM on May 4, 2006


Well you walk into a restaurant,
strung out from the road,
You can feel the eyes upon you
as you're shaking off the cold
You pretend it doesn’t bother you,
but you just want to explode.
Most times you can’t hear 'em talk,
other times you can.
All the same old cliches,
"Is that woman or a man?"
You always seem outnumbered,
you don’t dare make a stand.
-- Bob Seger, "Turn the Page"


Weren't the guardsmen regarded as heroes by a lot of the country at the time?

More like scared kids who shouldn't have been put in an impossible situation -- by the students.

> Within a week of the shooting, a Newsweek poll indicated that 58 percent of Americans blamed students for the deaths at Kent State. Only 11 percent blamed the National Guard
posted by dhartung at 9:52 AM on May 4, 2006


Kent state was a revelation, at least for white folks, that the government would actually kill you for disagreeing with their policies.

So the National Guard received an order from the govenor to go to Kent State and shoot protesters?

C'mon, thats a bit of a stretch of the matter. No, you took a bunch of half-trained soldiers, threw them into an explosive situation, and they reacted very, very, stupidly. It was a stupid idea to send the Guard there, but what do you expect when you have a group of men, half blind in gas masks, feeling surrounded and threatened, and armed with live ammunition?

The government only killed people by making a very stupid judgement clal, not by direct order against those arguing against their policies.
posted by Atreides at 9:53 AM on May 4, 2006


Within a week of the shooting, a Newsweek poll indicated that 58 percent of Americans blamed students for the deaths at Kent State. Only 11 percent blamed the National Guard

Supporting the troops hasn't changed much, I see.

You hear that, cripped children of the world? It's your fault; we were forced to bomb you. The hard-on that people have for authority, brutality, and death is nothing short of astounding. How can we be so noble and yet so hideous? What is wrong with us?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:02 AM on May 4, 2006


HuronBob writes "But... ya know what, I would trade the hatred we have today for that crap in a heartbeat."

What do you mean?
posted by mr_roboto at 10:04 AM on May 4, 2006


One of the interesting misconceptions about the Kent State riots is that everyone thinks the protest was about Vietnam when it was about Cambodia. Not that anyone in the crowd that day was happy about Vietnam but Cambodia was a war that the administration started in secret and was a sign that Nixon was waaaay out of control. Funny how history tends to repeat itself. I wonder if they interviewed any of the Kent State students today how many of them would even know what happened on this day 35/36 years ago. The ones that do probably would tell you without looking up fom their Gameboy (or whatever games this kids are playing today to distract them from reality).
posted by any major dude at 10:04 AM on May 4, 2006


Guardsmen shoot students at Kent State. Guardsmen unpunished.

A few weeks later, replace Kent State with Jackson State. Guardsmen unpunished.

ATF/FBI gas and burn children at Waco. Agents promoted.

FBI sniper kills Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge. Sniper unpunished.

Police bomb MOVE house in Philadelphia. Officers unpunished. Mayor re-elected.
posted by iconjack at 10:06 AM on May 4, 2006


I think of protests as a kind of violence. I think that door to door and mail campaigning has more effect on voters, and that's how change should be instituted.

I'm always uncomfortable when people get together in big groups and start talking trash about "other people." What's that about? It's voting that matters.

I don't mean to take away from the tragedy. At the same time, change is accomplished with a pen, not a podium, not a demonstration, not a march, not a rally.

The left frustrates me almost as much as the right sometimes. It seems to me that the left often wants change almost at any cost, and yet the methodology for that change isn't up for debate.
posted by ewkpates at 10:06 AM on May 4, 2006


dhartung loses points for posting Bob Seger lyrics. I'll go with the Five Man Electrical Band for this thread:

And the sign said,
"Long-haired freaky people
Need not apply."
So I tucked my hair up under my hat
And I went in to ask him why.
He said, "You look like a fine upstandin' young man.
I think you'll do."
So I took off my hat and said, "Imagine that.
Ha, me workin' for you."

posted by dios at 10:09 AM on May 4, 2006


I think of protests as a kind of violence.

This is a pretty stupid thing to say.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:09 AM on May 4, 2006


C'mon, thats a bit of a stretch of the matter. No, you took a bunch of half-trained soldiers, threw them into an explosive situation, and they reacted very, very, stupidly.

I saw a mini-documentary on A&E (i think) and the few guardsmen involved they interviewed thought it was great.

It wasn't an sloppy accident. I mentioned that 4 days later protesters were beaten in New York City by other American citizens as the cops watched.
posted by DougieZero1982 at 10:14 AM on May 4, 2006


Danf wrote:

The protests did nothing to shorten the war, which continued for a number of years more. . .

I think that is very dangerous thinking that has unfortunately become prevalent today. How do we know that protest didn't shorten the war? Who knows, if there weren't non-stop protests in the early 70's regarding our involvement in Southeast Asia maybe we are still there today - or worse - maybe the US would have just continued to move from one failed war to another like a gambler who doesn't know when to leave the craps table. My fear is the lack of a protest movement for the war in Iraq today will not only lead to more wars (Iran, Syria) but will turn our country into a totalitarian government where the people's wishes are summarily ignored. We pretty much are already there although no one seems to notice because it doesn't resemble the totalitarian governments of the past. This is more of a corporatocracy where the act is sold the to most gullible and vocal as one thing and switched to another when the spotlight goes away. This isn't your father's fascist movement. These guys take away all of your weapons (tv, radio, newspapers, the courts, the vote via gerrymandering - right to organize, right against unreasonable searches, speedy trial - hell most of the amendments) before they move.
posted by any major dude at 10:34 AM on May 4, 2006


We know specifically that the protests did shorten the war. So that's not some vague thing to wring one's hands over -- it's disinformation.
posted by digaman at 10:36 AM on May 4, 2006


One of the interesting misconceptions about the Kent State riots is that everyone thinks the protest was about Vietnam when it was about Cambodia.

This is splitting hairs. Millions of people had been marching through the streets for a couple of years by that point about Vietnam, and the bombing of Cambodia was clearly an extension of that.
posted by digaman at 10:39 AM on May 4, 2006


ewkpates wrote:

I'm always uncomfortable when people get together in big groups and start talking trash about "other people." What's that about? It's voting that matters.

How are you supposed to affect the vote when the mainstream news is obscuring or ignoring the truth. I believe the right to assemble is the truest form of democracy there is. The thing that has killed democracy the most in this country is the flight of people to the suburbs. Now everyone gets their news from corporate television when they used to be able to walk to the store and get it from their neighbors. Less ability to control the message when people compare notes face to face. The internet has the ability to restore that but very few people use the internet as their primary source for information.
posted by any major dude at 10:41 AM on May 4, 2006


On a typical day, 50 million Americans read news online. Considering the number of corporate decision-makers, media people, and other networked folks who are overrepresented in that group, it's not a negligible "very few."
posted by digaman at 10:46 AM on May 4, 2006


I think of protests as a kind of violence.

This is a pretty stupid thing to say.

Optimus Chyme, have you ever been to a large protest? They can feel like a type of violence. Sublimated. Outside the norm. They can quickly turn dangerous.

I am in no way anti-protest, but I think it's a valid opinion.
posted by rainbaby at 10:48 AM on May 4, 2006


We know specifically that the protests did shorten the war. So that's not some vague thing to wring one's hands over -- it's disinformation.

Sorry, I misspoke, so I'll rebut myself. We don't know that the protests shortened the war. There are credible arguments that "silent majority" backlash against the more violent aspects of the protests -- which were greatly encouraged by government provocateurs in "off the pigs" groups like the Weathermen -- may have helped Nixon get elected, thus prolonging the war.

But what is clear is that the protests eroded mainstream public support for Johnson and Nixon and the prosecution of the war.
posted by digaman at 10:54 AM on May 4, 2006


Heaven forbid that we do anything "outside the norm."

Take a walk in Baghdad today. It's hella outside the norm.
posted by digaman at 10:56 AM on May 4, 2006


To repeat myself, I am not saying we shouldn't protest. We should. It is an outside the norm action in terms of everyday behavior, and that can lead to violence. It's a form of sublimated violence.
posted by rainbaby at 11:02 AM on May 4, 2006


Um, well that's a rather uncharitable hyperfreudian view, I must say -- rather like asserting that lovemaking is a sublimated form of rape, which it is in some cases. But. You should really read up a little on this history of non-violent resistance as espoused by Gandhi, King, and Thoreau, all of whom hugely influenced antiwar movements all over the world. It's a more finely shaded matter than you might think.
posted by digaman at 11:08 AM on May 4, 2006


rainbaby, you're right, but for reasons that have little to do with protest. It's the nature of large groups and how people act when they are part of them. There's pontential for violence at protests, sure, but there's the same potential at hockey games, concerts, and dance marathons, too.
posted by jonmc at 11:09 AM on May 4, 2006


and digaman, you're usually a smart and reasonable guy, try not to be condescending to rainbaby. thank you.
posted by jonmc at 11:10 AM on May 4, 2006


From ahimsa to non-violent resistance in the present day, forms of peacemaking that are the opposite of "sublimated violence" are one of the best ideas Humanity's ever had.
posted by digaman at 11:13 AM on May 4, 2006


Point taken, jonmc.
posted by digaman at 11:13 AM on May 4, 2006


digaman, that's why I used the word "can" in my first response. They "can" be violent. I am familiar with the theory of non-violence.
posted by rainbaby at 11:15 AM on May 4, 2006


Well sure. But wars not only "can" lead to violence, they are violence -- which is why so many people have put their bodies where their theories are to put an end to wars that they felt were unjust, such as the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. So, it's a complex issue.
posted by digaman at 11:20 AM on May 4, 2006


exactly, digaman. like I said with my analogy to hockey games and concerts, it has more to do with group dynamics than anything else. it's not an admonition just something we should keep in mind to keep from becoming that which we hate.
posted by jonmc at 11:21 AM on May 4, 2006


Indeed.
posted by digaman at 11:25 AM on May 4, 2006


Peace is Every Step is an excellent and very simple book on the daily and very intimate practice of nonviolence by a Buddhist monk who was training in Vietnam as the bombs fell. Highly recommended.
posted by digaman at 11:32 AM on May 4, 2006


so many people have put their bodies where their theories are


. . .accepting the fact that they may have violence perpetrated upon them?

Protest is preferable to riot/war on a personal level and as an instrument of change. To assume that a protest is all peace love and Gandhi is misguided. I thought ewkpates had an interesting point.
posted by rainbaby at 11:34 AM on May 4, 2006


...which were greatly encouraged by government provocateurs in "off the pigs" groups like the Weathermen -- may have helped Nixon get elected.

I don't know if I ever buy these arguments...

Micheal Moore, MoveOn.org and The Dixie Chicks caused Bush to get re-elected.

Violent hippies caused Nixon to get re-elected.

The American people are just as much to blame for Vietnam and Iraq as the politicians. People love "safe" wars, best if you haven't had them in awhile. People loved the Iraq War in the beginning, it was the default position. It was patriotic. It was great breaking news coverage on TV. All those ex-generals on CNN and Fox News looked like they had giant boners (peace time isn't fun for war buffs).

It's not like the Vietnamese and Iraqi's were going to invade Brooklyn by battleship, but that doesn’t matter... My point is, my grandfather was a WW2 vet and a huge fan of the Vietnam War… not in an intellectual way, but that it was USA vs. some other country and we should win.
posted by DougieZero1982 at 11:46 AM on May 4, 2006


Real protesters immolate themselves.
posted by dios at 11:48 AM on May 4, 2006


The InterActivist link in this post asks a critical question:
"How did you become radicalized and get involved in the antiwar movement?"

Take it forward to today. What kind of actions by the gubmint would it take for people to become radicalized? For people to flood into the street with their neighbors in protest? What does it take for thousands to begin to act "Outside the norm" and to decide that the killing and torture--done in our name--must stop?

I fear that in the calculus of permissble power our rulers have figured out the equation. "Abu wha? Lemme alone American Idol is on."
posted by ahimsakid at 11:50 AM on May 4, 2006


Who knows, if there weren't non-stop protests in the early 70's regarding our involvement in Southeast Asia maybe we are still there today - or worse - maybe the US would have just continued to move from one failed war to another like a gambler who doesn't know when to leave the craps table.

Point taken, anymajordude. I have no empiracal evidence to back up what I said, but I also started protesting in '67 and saw the war drag on until '73 and the final Americans leaving in '75. So it seemed a HELL of a long time to me, of the very low draft lottery number.

And I also have to give you that most of us as a nation learned the lessons this experience had to offer. The exceptions being the neocons currently holding the reigns of government. Since none of them (that I know of) had to GO there, they must have thought that occupying a country would be a walk in the park. Or something.
posted by Danf at 11:50 AM on May 4, 2006


Violent hippies caused Nixon to get re-elected.

Sirhan Sirhan caused Nixon to get elected, IMO.
posted by Danf at 11:51 AM on May 4, 2006


DougieZero1982: take it down a notch.

Nobody's arguing any of those things. You sound paranoid.

What the news media did was take the actions of a few nutjob fanatics and manage to create an atmosphere of fear, plus the existing class resentments that help foment the hardhat riots. Add some false promises about winding down the war, and a rather limp candidate in McGovern, not to mention a dead Kennedy, and that's what got Nixon elected. Of course after we were done with him we got Carter, and then swung way right with Reagan.

There's a lot of factors that caused that, and yes some of them were gaffes by the left. If we can't figure out what swung this country right, we won't be able to swing it left.

My point is, my grandfather was a WW2 vet and a huge fan of the Vietnam War

Mine too. And my Dad was in Vietnam. What exactly is your point other than that 'the American people,' are stupid and that your smart?
posted by jonmc at 11:52 AM on May 4, 2006


To assume that a protest is all peace love and Gandhi is misguided.

I didn't assume this, having participated in demonstrations with my parents since infancy. (There's a picture of me in my stroller with my mom and late father at a ban-the-bomb demonstration in the early 1960s holding up a sign that said "Peace.") I know what goes on at demonstrations -- from the sublime to the ridiculous and destructive. So, no unreasonable assumptions here.
posted by digaman at 12:01 PM on May 4, 2006


Nah, I say take it up another notch DougieZero1982.
I scares me that the majority response to the shock and awe start of the current bloody fiasco was the tribal chant "U-S-A U-S-A." Do we have any chance of understanding the meaning of our collective actions?
posted by ahimsakid at 12:04 PM on May 4, 2006


I scares me that the majority response to the shock and awe start of the current bloody fiasco was the tribal chant "U-S-A U-S-A."

And your response to that response is what exactly? besides snark?
posted by jonmc at 12:05 PM on May 4, 2006


danf wrote:

The exceptions being the neocons currently holding the reigns of government. Since none of them (that I know of) had to GO there, they must have thought that occupying a country would be a walk in the park. Or something

The neocons who starting and continue this war are the same neocons who worked with Nixon back during Vietnam. Cheney and Rumsfeld. This is what happens when you tar one person for the sins of many. As far as I'm concerned this is the third strike for this gang - Southeast Asia/Iran Contra/Iraq II. When this is all said and done I want everyone - EVERYONE connected to this administration to do jail time down to the lowliest intern. We need that scarlet letter tatooed on them to remember that no one is above the law in this country. Everytime they get away with it they just get stronger.
posted by any major dude at 12:07 PM on May 4, 2006


ahimsakid, 9/11 cast a very long shadow of fear that was exploited to the max by the neocons to confuse America. Remember that in your practice of ahimsa toward the tribal chanters.
posted by digaman at 12:08 PM on May 4, 2006


having participated in demonstrations with my parents since infancy. (There's a picture of me in my stroller with my mom and late father at a ban-the-bomb demonstration in the early 1960s holding up a sign that said "Peace.")
posted by digaman at 2:01 PM CST on May 4


As one who believes that at 90% of the "radicals" on this website are nothing more than kids looking for an identity who want to be "a part" of something like a scene; or people nostalgic for some idealized perception of the 70's who feel like that missed out on something; or spoiled victims of their ids who can't have what they want and want to rage about it.... let me say this: I believe digaman is the real deal. He is a life-long true believer. I had that photograph in my mind's eye before he ever mentioned it.
posted by dios at 12:13 PM on May 4, 2006


true dat, dios. and for someone raised in such an atmosphere he's surprisingly good at managing to see (and understand as legitamite) the perceptions of those who didn't, which is often the exception to the rule among 'red-diaper babies.'
posted by jonmc at 12:15 PM on May 4, 2006


Wow, thanks guys. I really appreciate it.
posted by digaman at 12:18 PM on May 4, 2006


(actually, I recommended a book to you a few months back, digaman. Did you ever read it?)

/OT
posted by jonmc at 12:20 PM on May 4, 2006


digaman, I'm a lefty. I've protested (as I said). I admit this is why I feel at home reading metafilter. But I try to listen, and today I gained an insight, a new way of thinking about an issue. Thanks to you I understand the rage those on the other side here at metafilter experience, and why they sometimes lash out. The one thing I do appreciate is that Kent State spurred a serious new discussion here today, despite an undignified lighthearted start to the whole thing. I'm out.
posted by rainbaby at 12:23 PM on May 4, 2006


Eeek, I forgot, jonmc. I'll get to it! Thanks again.
posted by digaman at 12:24 PM on May 4, 2006


There is no reason to thank me. I'm just being honest. I find you to be genuine article who was raised in that mindset as opposed as one coming to it by way of some nascent discovery of "radicalism." Though I disagree with a lot of what you say and think you are so wedded to your views that it devours your pragmatism at times, I can't fault you for being principled and being nakedly honest in your views. That is in marked contrast to many others here who wear their political affectations as if they are part of a gang. And I find you to be more willing to acknowledge the right of others to disagree with you without insulting the person even while you give no ground in your own personal views. You seem more willing than others to understand that you have certain beliefs and others will have their beliefs and that is ok.
posted by dios at 12:28 PM on May 4, 2006


rainbaby, I seriously can't tell if that last post was slamming me or thanking me. I have tried to be accommodating and to listen, and if you reread my posts, they may not be as hard-ass or closed-minded as you think.... if that's what you're thinking. My objection to what you said was very specific, and I tried to be specific in my replies, with the exception of the rape analogy, which was overincendiary. jonmc stepped in to warn me about being condescending, and I tried to listen harder. Sorry if I didn't do better.
posted by digaman at 12:28 PM on May 4, 2006


Mine too. And my Dad was in Vietnam. What exactly is your point other than that 'the American people,' are stupid and that your smart?

jonmc , I'm a lefty. I've protested (as I said). I admit this is why I feel at home reading metafilter. But I try to listen, and today I gained an insight, a new way of thinking about an issue. Thanks to you I understand the rage those on the other side here at metafilter experience, and why they sometimes lash out. The one thing I do appreciate is that Kent State spurred a serious new discussion here today, despite an undignified lighthearted start to the whole thing. I'm out.
posted by DougieZero1982 at 12:31 PM on May 4, 2006


Thanks again, dios. As I've said here before, I really enjoyed our conversations on the phone, and I could hear your sincerity -- even if your posts here at times drive my blood-pressure through the roof. I'm sure that's mutual! But I have no doubt that we would enjoy having a coffee together sometime, and I look forward to that.
posted by digaman at 12:31 PM on May 4, 2006


I find you to be genuine article who was raised in that mindset as opposed as one coming to it by way of some nascent discovery of "radicalism."

well, dios people have all kinds of motives for their political persuasions and some are sincere, some aren't whether they were born into it as digaman was (and that can often lead to Bob Roberts style overcorrection, other people come into it to rebel against their parents, others (like myself) simply discover it on their own through experience.

The important thing is always be open to the ideas and experiences of others and always be open to change.
posted by jonmc at 12:33 PM on May 4, 2006


Dougiezero: I'm a lefty as well*, but that dosen't stop me from examining the left an seeing how we could make it better and communicate more effectively with the great mass of people we're supposed to be working in the interests of. That's all I'm saying whenever I get all devil's advocatey around here.

(this is predicated on you being sarcastic quoting my friend rainbaby. if you weren't, sorry)

*war-protesting, public-transport taking, pot-smoking, living in sin, gay positive... the works. although I do often feel alienated from my fellow lefties.
posted by jonmc at 12:36 PM on May 4, 2006


digaman: I agree with what you say about the shadow of 9/11. And I will take your advice to remember the confusion perpetrated. Still, those "chanters" many of whom treat the deaths of thousands akin to a sporting event leave me saddened in the extreme.

jonmc: Was I being snarky? I apologize. My response to those who would chant that way? To try to engage them, and to try to share with them the reasons I fear for my country and my world.
posted by ahimsakid at 12:51 PM on May 4, 2006


Fair enough, ahimskid, but engagement is a two way street. You have to learn where they're coming from, too.
posted by jonmc at 12:53 PM on May 4, 2006


I do often feel alienated from my fellow lefties

I hear ya. I ended up splitting with my dad's politics because the Marxist group he was in opposed gay liberation as a symptom of "capitalist decadence," which was clearly just stupid -- to me, as a gay kid growing up. I am definitely not an organization man on either side of the red/blue line. But I definitely lean left. Call me a Marxist of the Groucho persuasion, as someone once said.
posted by digaman at 12:57 PM on May 4, 2006


Take it forward to today. What kind of actions by the gubmint would it take for people to become radicalized?

they'd have to be totally disenfranchised as stakeholders in the establishment ... as long as the bread and circuses continue, it's just not going to happen ... the government knows this and is too busy trying to placate people so they can get re-elected to do anything that would radicalize people ... the iraq war didn't do it, because each individual has a choice as to whether they want to participate in it ... the erosion of our civil liberties aren't going to do it, because most americans aren't doing anything that's all that interesting to the government anyway ... the culture wars aren't going to do it, because the average american can afford to ignore them and in spite of all the heat generated, very little has changed

look at what's going on with the immigration thing ... the disenfranchised immigrants are demonstrating and some of them are radicalized ... the anti-immigration forces are sitting at home watching their tvs, as usual ... they might not like what's going on but the real consequences to them aren't all that tangible, so they're not going to do anything about it

what disturbed many about kent state at the time is that it happened to ordinary college students at a midwestern campus ... there were two reactions ... first was pretending that the victims were grungy freaky hippies and not one of us ... although the fact is that many of those shot weren't even participating in the demonstration ... the other was, my god, what the hell is going on in this country? ... is fighting the war worth what it's doing to america?

by 1972, nixon was clearly planning an exit strategy ... proof of which is that even though he won a landslide victory, he continued to withdraw the troops ... if it hadn't been for the disgrace of watergate, he would probably be a well-regarded president today in most quarters

the majority of americans want what they've always wanted ... to be left the hell alone by "troublemakers" and the "enemy", whoever and whatever they may think that is

pity that likely upcoming events aren't going to make that possible
posted by pyramid termite at 12:59 PM on May 4, 2006


Protesting is great. Actually voting the bums out in November will be better.
posted by bardic at 1:04 PM on May 4, 2006


As one who believes that at 90% of the "radicals" on this website are nothing more than kids looking for an identity who want to be "a part" of something like a scene; or people nostalgic for some idealized perception of the 70's who feel like that missed out on something; or spoiled victims of their ids who can't have what they want and want to rage about it

you don't quite have it, dios ... most of the "radicals" on this website are, in fact, part of the establishment ... they just don't realize it and think that the intensity and partisanship of their opinions make them some kind of "radical" ... it's a radicalism of feeling, not of position

oh, and i hope you meant an "idealized perception of the 60's" ... the 70's sucked hard ... i know, i was there
posted by pyramid termite at 1:11 PM on May 4, 2006


I hear ya. I ended up splitting with my dad's politics because the Marxist group he was in opposed gay liberation as a symptom of "capitalist decadence," which was clearly just stupid -- to me, as a gay kid growing up.

Yeah, when people twist themselves into logical pretzels in the name of ideology they lose their humanity if you ask me. There's actually a terrific book by self-proclaimed lesbian radical Donna Minkowitz, who initially went 'undercover' in the Christian Right, and was stunned to find herself feeling an odd kinship with those she initially set out to 'expose.' It's all very murky territory.
posted by jonmc at 1:15 PM on May 4, 2006


Nothing's changed. It can happen again, even worse.

The right-wing could never deal with dissent. It always forces them to logically justify their actions and their beliefs, and since they usually can't, they simply opt to kill the messenger instead, and wrap themselves a little tighter in the flag.
posted by rougy at 1:16 PM on May 4, 2006


As one who believes that at 90% of the "radicals" on this website are nothing more than kids looking for an identity who want to be "a part" of something like a scene; or people nostalgic for some idealized perception of the 70's who feel like that missed out on something; or spoiled victims of their ids who can't have what they want and want to rage about it....
posted by dios at 12:13 PM PST on May 4

Real protesters immolate themselves.
posted by dios at 11:48 AM PST on May 4


I am part of no scene, I'm not nostalgic for an idealized golden age, and I don't even know what you're talking about in that last part. But I know this: you are a vile, despicable person whose empathy disappeared long ago, for reasons that none of us might ever understand. You make fun of handicapped children, you yearn for total authoritarian rule over every citizen, and you value the law, no matter what it says, over what is right. Unless the law conflicts with the powers that be, in which case we're in a grey area and then murdering college kids is probably okay.

And the scary part is that you are a well-educated professional, who probably fits right in at social gatherings, and who probably has a few friends who think you are the best guy around. That's the fucking scary part.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:39 PM on May 4, 2006


you are a vile, despicable person whose empathy disappeared long ago

easy. judge not lest ye be judged and all that good shit, remember?
posted by jonmc at 1:42 PM on May 4, 2006


easy. judge not lest ye be judged and all that good shit, remember?
posted by jonmc at 1:42 PM PST on May 4



posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:46 PM on May 4, 2006


wow. you can cut-and-paste a link to a photo. Knock me over with a feather.

(way to miss the point. what happened at Kent State dosen't give you carte blanche to make summary judgement on another human being, unless you want to become what you purportedly despise. I don't like a lot of dios opinion's either and sometimes I find him downright infuriating, but I don't know the man beyond pixels on a screen. and all the iconic photos in the world don't change that)
posted by jonmc at 1:51 PM on May 4, 2006


<troll>
Kent read, kent write, Kent state!
</troll>
posted by jewzilla at 1:51 PM on May 4, 2006


what happened at Kent State dosen't give you carte blanche to make summary judgement on another human being

Well, it certainly didn't seem to stop dios. I was merely responding in kind. I know that this is all part of your bit where you defend really unpopular opinions so you can be king of the peasant-philosophers, so I don't even know why I'm bothering to respond.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:57 PM on May 4, 2006


2/3 of America currently disapproves of Bush and his administration. I guess that makes "radicals" a majority now, and they for damn sure don't need the approbation of anyone on mefi to make their voices and/or votes heard, regardless of how "authentic" you think they are.
posted by bardic at 1:57 PM on May 4, 2006


I know that this is all part of your bit where you defend really unpopular opinions so you can be king of the peasant-philosophers, so I don't even know why I'm bothering to respond.

Or because I actually believe that this place is supposed to be about exchange of opinions and respect of difference and all that good stuff. I'm a sentimental old coot that way.
posted by jonmc at 2:02 PM on May 4, 2006


So why don't you call out a poster who attacks an entire group of mefites simultaneously, not to mention political protester who don't meet his or her standard of truthiness?
posted by bardic at 2:05 PM on May 4, 2006


Or because I actually believe that this place is supposed to be about exchange of opinions and respect of difference and all that good stuff. I'm a sentimental old coot that way.
posted by jonmc at 2:02 PM PST on May 4


That's fine, but don't tell me that after reading hundreds of horrible things by the same poster I can't decide whether or not the person posting them is, in fact, horrible. It's all a joke to him, and he doesn't give a shit.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:06 PM on May 4, 2006


As one who believes that at 90% of the "radicals" on this website are nothing more than kids looking for an identity who want to be "a part" of something like a scene...."

Hard not to get sentimental over something as "respectful" as that statement....
posted by rougy at 2:07 PM on May 4, 2006


I'm not gonna jump into the dogpile here, but I really don't think you can generalize the way people really feel and operate from their behavior on a website, of all things. There's this notion we have that revealing someone's darkest behavior is to reveal their truest behavior, and so we think the internet really shows what people are like. Yeah. Dude: dhoyt. /offtopic
posted by furiousthought at 2:09 PM on May 4, 2006


I see that my own personal fan club showed up to perform their usual whine and bitch routine about how unfair everything I say is.

Remember: *I* and the one people say derail threads and *shit* in them.
posted by dios at 2:10 PM on May 4, 2006


It's not unfair. It's just mean and stupid.
posted by rougy at 2:14 PM on May 4, 2006


As your official Fan Club Secretary, I went over the minutes and this is your first substantial comment:

As one who believes that at 90% of the "radicals" on this website are nothing more than kids looking for an identity who want to be "a part" of something like a scene; or people nostalgic for some idealized perception of the 70's who feel like that missed out on something; or spoiled victims of their ids who can't have what they want and want to rage about it....

Add that to saying "real protestors immolate themselves" in a thread about kids murdered by our own National Guard, and I'm going to have to say that that is some serious thread-shitting. And remember, I don't think your comments are unfair, just grossly inhuman, weird, and inappropriate.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:14 PM on May 4, 2006


Yes, that was my post last year, thanks. I'll never forget Kent State day - my best friend and I organized a walkout of our eighth grade class when our teacher was fired for telling us that the Guard troops were wrong. She was reinstated.

Good links on Cursor today:
How Kent State Could Happen Again
Why Kent State is Important Today
An interesting analysis of "Ohio"
Jerry Casale of Devo on Kent State
posted by tizzie at 2:18 PM on May 4, 2006


I'm pretty disturbed that, despite my public K-12 education and my liberal artsy uni education, I'd never heard of the Jackson State Killings or the Hard Hat Riot before now. I guess I'm no history buff, but I sometimes watch the History Channel for fun and I think my education was well above average with a healthy dose of race/class classes to boot.

Just thinking. It seems like a lot of the tangential stuff that's come up in the recent Kent State threads has a subliminal history feel to it. Americans don't like to dig too deep into issues with class/race connotations.

It seems like the class/race dimension is fuzzy with the currently unfolding history too.
posted by Skwirl at 2:44 PM on May 4, 2006


/snark

History Channel has trouble running shows about things where they can't use grainy stock Hitler footage

/snark-off

Thanks for the links tizzie. I wasn't born yet, but I remember my rather conservative father telling me not long ago that what was really shocking about the Kent State murders was kind of the opposite of what others have said--in those class pictures, the kids look very clean cut and wholesome (not that anyone deserves to be murdered based on how they look, but still). Upper-middle-class America realied that it could be their own offspring that was being gunned down by US troops soon.
posted by bardic at 2:49 PM on May 4, 2006


bardic: it's been my experience that the shaggy freaks were more likely to be upper-middle-class and the clean-cut kids were more often the bound-for-vietnam blue-collar kids. the hippie ethos didn't penetrate to a lot of places until the 70's. Just an observation.
posted by jonmc at 3:33 PM on May 4, 2006


(just to be clear, I don't use 'shaggy freak' as a pejorative. I used to have hair past my shoulders and a goatee like King Tut on Batman, and I had uncles who haunted the Fillmore East. I'm just pointing out some complexities)
posted by jonmc at 3:35 PM on May 4, 2006


(also, optimus, you'll notice that when dios was treated respectfully by digaman, he responded in kind. That should show you something, and fwiw, in emails, I've tried to press upon dios that he should expend some energy trying to see through other people's eyes too. I usually won't do that here since I'm not into 'me too,' style dogpiles)
posted by jonmc at 3:39 PM on May 4, 2006


Yes...the hippies were truly outcasts of their day, and limited themselves to quirky, irrelevant environs - like colleges and universities.
posted by rougy at 3:40 PM on May 4, 2006




Yes...the hippies were truly outcasts of their day

yes, but voluntarily so, and it was a priviliged position by and large, since tuning in, turning on and dropping out wasn't a viable economic option for much of America. My dad and uncles (all natives of working-class outer-borough new york) were primarily worried about the draft. the cultural parts of hippiedom filter down to my younger uncles in the for of sex, drugs, rock and roll and a vague anti-authoritarianism. and to a large degree I don't think that the hippies understood the lives of people removed from major city bohemian areas and university towns, at least not at first. Read John Sayles' excellent Union Dues for a better elucidation of what I'm getting at.
posted by jonmc at 3:45 PM on May 4, 2006


on preview: shocking and inconveniencing people? people are harder to shock than ever in post-everything America, and inconvencing people tends to just piss them off rather than engage them.
posted by jonmc at 3:46 PM on May 4, 2006


"...yes, but voluntarily so...."

No, not really. A hippie was a free spirit and someone brave enough to live their own life, and risk the ridicule of the trogs who then made up what seemed like 80% of our country. They volunteered to lead their own lives - it was society who turned them into outcasts.

Most of all, hippies were generally smarter, much smarter, than the blue-collar kids who were so quick to swallow the bullshit being fed to them.

I was just a kid back then, growing up around Boulder Colorado. The hippies were always in the vanguard.

I’m not wholly disagreeing with you, jonmc, and thanks for the book tip – I just think that maybe I saw a different side of hippiedom than you did.
posted by rougy at 3:56 PM on May 4, 2006


Most of all, hippies were generally smarter, much smarter, than the blue-collar kids who were so quick to swallow the bullshit being fed to them.

careful of that leap from 'educated' to 'smart,' my friend. my dad never went to college (and he did wind up serving in Vietnam) but he's a very smart man, as are many working stiffs and veterans I've met over the years. And hippies weren't the only people cynical about the options offered by society, just one of the most visible.

And don't take this as an attack on hippiedom. you're talking to someone who owns Spirit, Quicksilver and Jefferson Airplane albums on vinyl (although I like my punk, doowoop and rockabilly, too) and likes his pot and considers Abbie Hoffman a personal hero. I just see it's limitations and faults and wanted to make the point that there's more than one version of the sixties.
posted by jonmc at 4:03 PM on May 4, 2006


the cultural parts of hippiedom filter down to my younger uncles in the for of sex, drugs, rock and roll and a vague anti-authoritarianism.

true ... and of course, they were a little too late for the real thing that happened in the 60s, as was i ... somewhere around '77, many of the anti-authoritarian people i went to high school with ... pure working class ... cut their hair and started local punk bands ... that was THEIR movement and THEIR statement
posted by pyramid termite at 4:08 PM on May 4, 2006


also (and I promise I'll stop after this) recently we held a 60th birthday for my dad, where my aunt read a speech telling a story about a night while my dad was in country. apparently, late at night a Western Union man came to the door and the whole family almost had a collective heart attack. turned out it was something for my grampa's store. But afterwards my uncles and dad's friends started telling stories about draft worries in those days. they all remember what they did to make sure it wouldn't happen and they all had freinds and neighbors who went over and never came back. It was all much more immediate and real to them. and there would naturally be some resentment of kids with student deferments or parents who could afford draft lawyers waving Viet Cong flags in protests (yes, assholes like that were a tiny minority, but the media made great hay with it)
posted by jonmc at 4:11 PM on May 4, 2006


What I never understand about that famous Kent State photo pictured above is; one protestor is lying dead on the ground, another is screaming...while everyone else in the photo is strolling around like it's just another lazy afternoon on campus. People have their hands in their pockets. Why wasn't everyone running for their lives after the shooting started?

/ honest question, just wondering
posted by you just lost the game at 4:12 PM on May 4, 2006


Here are a couple of facts about Kent State. One is that at least one of those killed there, Bill Schroeder, was walking through the parking lot and had nothing to do with the demonstration. He was a member of the ROTC. Another is that the Guardsmen had also previously been on alert for a truckers' strike and were stressed and over tired. A third point is that someone lied. The Guardsmen claimed for days, then years, that someone in the crowd of demonstrators had fired a shot first. Another is that Jim Rhodes, governor of Ohio, badmouthed the hell out of the demonstrators, which, combined with the lies about how the Guardsmen were "cornered" by the demonstrators, convinced a fair number of people to believe the kids deserved at least some of what they got. I know, I grew up out there, knew Bill Schroeder in high school and people who were there that day. And my father was a Guardsman who was next to be called up for Kent State. Caused a hell o a battle in my house, let me tell you. Kent State, followed by Jackson State, ended the big campus demonstrations for the most part.
posted by etaoin at 4:12 PM on May 4, 2006


...careful of that leap from 'educated' to 'smart,' my friend.

Never intended to. That's one of my stock "Book of Rougy" wisdoms: I've met a lot of smart people who lacked a formal education, and I've met more than my share of educated idiots.

Many times people will call me a "hippie" on bulletin boards, which makes me smile, even after I realize that they meant it as an insult.

The main reason people hate hippies is that nonconformity makes them uncomfortable.

But face it: on the whole, the hippies were smarter than the rednecks and the hard-hats. Even you have to admit that.
posted by rougy at 4:15 PM on May 4, 2006


And I'm sorry, but I LIKE Bob Seger lyrics!
posted by etaoin at 4:19 PM on May 4, 2006


...draft lawyers waving Viet Cong flags in protests...

Honestly: what the hell's wrong with that? It was their country, after all.

My uncle went there, just so you know it touched my life, too. He came back. Showed us the old reel-to-reel tape recorder with the bullet hole in it from the round that pierced his back. Gave me and my brother "gook" hats, though neither of us understood the significance of it at the time.

The last time I talked to him, something in our conversation reminded him of the time he woke up, in country, with rats crawling on top of his sleeping bag.

Yeah, my beautiful uncle came back. Most of him, anyway.
posted by rougy at 4:21 PM on May 4, 2006


But face it: on the whole, the hippies were smarter than the rednecks and the hard-hats. Even you have to admit that.

Different kind of smarts, differents kinds of life experiences. That's what I'll leave it at. And yeah, I'm kind of amazed at the kind of dumbass who callas anyone vaguely countercultural a 'hippie.' I've even heard punk rockers called 'hippies,' which would incense most of them.

The main reason people hate hippies is that nonconformity makes them uncomfortable.

I don't 100% disagree with you. I just don't know that it's that cut and dried. not anymore.

(also, dios and optimus, take note, this is what's known as a civilized respectful discussion)
posted by jonmc at 4:21 PM on May 4, 2006


Honestly: what the hell's wrong with that? It was their country, after all.

Eh. Here's where trying to see through someone else's eyes comes in handy. To a father with a kid serving that comes across as 'they're cheering on the people shooting at my son.' which just alienates people needlessly and for no good reason.

And my dad managed to get through his tour without getting his CIB, although he was in a combat zone up at Qui Nhon. And he told me as a young man that he never saw much sense in the war he served in and I agree with him. But I still respect his and your uncle's service.

And I'm sorry, but I LIKE Bob Seger lyrics!

Me too. His '2+2=?' is one of the first Vietnam specific protest songs. and 'Feel Like A Number' applies very well to my current employment situation (long story).
posted by jonmc at 4:25 PM on May 4, 2006


(also thanks for the good conversation, rougy, if you're ever in Queens, I'll buy you a beer)
posted by jonmc at 4:29 PM on May 4, 2006


jonmc - sounds great. Wish I could be there.
posted by rougy at 4:37 PM on May 4, 2006


bardic: it's been my experience that the shaggy freaks were more likely to be upper-middle-class and the clean-cut kids were more often the bound-for-vietnam blue-collar kids.

My experience was that it was more like the present day red state/blue state divide--city and college town kids were earlier adopters than those in the hinterlands, and, that, at least for those in the first cohort, the class differences blurred fast. At least until 1967, when everything got commoditized. Then that was all she wrote. And the lottery came in 1969. That muddied things up even more, class wise. And Kent State was Kent State, not Harvard. Not exactly your expensive elite ivy league school.

People were angry then. Everyone knew someone who had been killed. And it was on the news every night. The war going on now is mind boggling in its absence in comparison. But Kent State was definitely a threshold. Demonstrations erupted all across the country. In Seattle, people marched downtown from the University District on the Freeway. Things got hot and stayed hot for quite awhile. I remember going to a a party in the U District in August of 1970 that got broken up by the Tac Squad with teargas and billy clubs. A party. They whipped out the bullhorns, announced the party had to close and then they shot off the teargas and started swining those clubs. Those were some polarized times.
posted by y2karl at 4:42 PM on May 4, 2006


Like I said Karl, don't take my critiques as an attack on hippiedom. Joining the protest movemnent was a courageous choice that I respect as much as I respect the service of the vets I know. I went through a period as a young man where I was more or less obsessed with the era (from every perspective) and devoured every book and record from it, and bugged every veteran of the era, hippie and military both, to tell me what they sawe and learned. I still do, to an extent, mainly because it helps explain the world I live in now.

sorry for prattling on so much.
posted by jonmc at 4:46 PM on May 4, 2006


(and, karl, as always, my offer of a beer in queens extends to you too, should you ever find yourself there)
posted by jonmc at 4:55 PM on May 4, 2006


His '2+2=?' is one of the first Vietnam specific protest songs.

Now, that's not the kind of historically informed musical information I expect from you! 1968 is way late for Vietnam protest songs. Check out this list for some SCIENCE! And they don't even include some of the most powerful stuff, like The Mighty Hannibal's "Hymn No. 5" (1966, got to #21 on the R&B charts) and Delia Gartrell's "See What You Done, Done (Hymn #9)" (she used to be married to Hannibal, hence the similarity in hymnification).

Hey, I just discovered a completely different list, with annotations—read it and run off to the record store! And neither list includes Jimmy Cliff's "Viet Nam" (lyrics), which is mind-blowingly intense. Vietnam was a rotten war but it inspired some great music.
posted by languagehat at 5:03 PM on May 4, 2006


Actually, you are on target, l-hat. I should say that it was the first white rock artist who got that specific. (there were plenty of generic anti-war songs, but '2+2=?' was very specific and spelled out Seger's anger in very concrete terms. and it rocked like a sonuvabitch). The Monks 'Black Monk Time' mentions Vietnam by name but that record was heard by almost nobody until decades later, whereas Seger's song was a large regional hit, so I give credit where credit is due.
posted by jonmc at 5:07 PM on May 4, 2006


Nah, he wasn't even close to the first white guy who got specific about VN. Country Joe's "I-Feel-Like-I'm-a-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" ("Don't ask me, I don't give a damn/ I'm goin' to Vietnam") was from 1965, and Seeger's "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" (doesn't mention the word, but not much question what he's talking about) is from '63.

But never mind that. I just remembered another classic, utterly unknown, and I can't even remember the name of the song, but it's on Guitar Slim Green's Stone Down Blues (from somewhere in the early '70s, I think—I don't think there was a date on the record, it's one of those supercheap labels with minimal info and crappy vinyl). You can read a little about Guitar Slim (not the famous Guitar Slim) here.
posted by languagehat at 5:20 PM on May 4, 2006


On a typical day, 50 million Americans read news online. Considering the number of corporate decision-makers, media people, and other networked folks who are overrepresented in that group, it's not a negligible "very few."

Tonight on NBC Tom Brokaw was talking about how blogs were going nuts over Steven Colbert's performance and how the were complaining it wasn't being covered in the "MSM".
posted by delmoi at 5:21 PM on May 4, 2006


Well, country joe was more of a folkie than a rocker so he dosen't really count. I have some great comps of Vietnam related soul though, and a great Swamp Dogg cover of John Prine's 'Sam Stone' on mp3. But a lot of the songs on the list you linked were more 'anti-war in general.' Seger was damningly specific.
posted by jonmc at 5:22 PM on May 4, 2006


and weren't there about 25 guys called 'Guitar Slim?'
posted by jonmc at 5:23 PM on May 4, 2006


Yeah, there were, that's why I linked to his bio.

I found the lyrics to "2+2" and they don't mention Vietnam either—just "foreign jungle land." I'm not sure I'd call that "damningly specific."
posted by languagehat at 5:33 PM on May 4, 2006


well, where else could he mean? and he makes it personal, which makes it one of the best protest tunes, along with it's musical merit.
posted by jonmc at 5:35 PM on May 4, 2006


Sure, it's a great song. And I hope you don't feel I'm busting your chops; it's just a lot more fun arguing about music than politics.
posted by languagehat at 6:02 PM on May 4, 2006


On late night radio years ago I remember there was a program about Yes and these lyrics

Cold summer listening
Hot colour melting the anger to stone


were supposed to be a reference to Kent State.

referenced here
posted by pieoverdone at 6:30 PM on May 4, 2006


please, hat, I love arguing music with you, dawg.
posted by jonmc at 6:45 PM on May 4, 2006


Like I said Karl, don't take my critiques as an attack on hippiedom.

I was doing no such thing. I was talking about the zeitgest of the time. You were pontificating about a time I happened to remember.

And, listen, no one I knew thought of themself as a hippie then. I don't remember anyone using the word then except as in quotes. As in

Oh, how 'hippie'...

Oh, we thought we were hip--but, man, we weren't hippies. Other people were hippies. Hippie was a social construct only the saps bought into. Or so we thought.

The things people think about the 60s. Like there was a lot of tie dye. Nuh uh. That was the 70s. That's when you had your tie dye. And nothing like they have now.

Man, that's one thing I notice about 'hippie' kids nowadays--having a couple of decades to tweak it, they got the look down to the Platonic ideal. Looks wise, they don't make hippies like they used to--they look as if they're trapped in better amber.
posted by y2karl at 6:52 PM on May 4, 2006


I was doing no such thing.

It was meant as a qualification, not an accusation.
posted by jonmc at 7:04 PM on May 4, 2006


pyramid termite writes "if it hadn't been for the disgrace of watergate, he would probably be a well-regarded president today in most quarters"

He did keep his promise in getting the US out of Vietnam, and he was a very smart policy wonk-type, but as the tapes reveal he was paranoid to the extreme, he was racist, he was single-minded in his political ambition and ruthless in its pursuit, good-intentioned though he may have been, and he made a disastrous mistake in allowing Kissinger to get the US sidetracked in Cambodia. He may have had his heart in the right place, but he was fatally flawed as a leader.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:18 PM on May 4, 2006


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