Kent State
May 3, 2010 9:22 PM   Subscribe

Forty Years Ago...
posted by HuronBob (55 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: poster's request -- cortex



 
. . . .
posted by Nothing... and like it at 9:26 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Won't let me watch it from Canada... now I'll never know what happened 40 years ago.
posted by Crane Shot at 9:28 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


For more info:

Wikipedia entry on Kent State Massacre.

Wikipedia entry on Jackson State Massacre.

After the second one, it must have seemed like the whole country was going mad.
posted by darkstar at 9:30 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Won't let me watch it from Canada... now I'll never know what happened 40 years ago.

With my plan of watching one of Youtube's recommended alternates, apparently Ke$ha got an iPad.
posted by mightygodking at 9:31 PM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


"This video contains content from WMG, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds."
posted by Dasein at 9:32 PM on May 3, 2010


" ... it must have seemed like the whole country was going mad."

It did.
posted by Relay at 9:35 PM on May 3, 2010


still is.
posted by stbalbach at 9:42 PM on May 3, 2010




Won't let me watch it from Canada... now I'll never know what happened 40 years ago.

Stephen Sills wasn't quite so fat, David Crosby had most of his original organs, and people gave a shit about Graham Nash.

Neil Young was, and remains, a badass.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:44 PM on May 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


Forty years ago I was living in married housing at Eastern Michigan University. Many of those of us at EMU had experienced the riots in Detroit in 1967, we remembered JFK being in Ann Arbor to announce the establishment of the Peace Corps and we were around when the SDS was formed in Ann Arobr the early 60's.

We had just experienced the death of RFK a year or so before, and we were still wounded from losing JFK and MLK... the war in Viet Nam was still going strong, and now this. The guardsmen at Kent State had marched to the top of a hill, and could have kept marching, but, instead, turned and opened fire on unarmed students.

As things became more heated on campus, hundreds of miles away from Kent State, we knew that we couldn't just sit by and do nothing. Students began to congregate on campus, demonstrations were organized at the president of the university's residence, at the ROTC building.

Eventually things started to heat up. One night someone decided to light fire to Roosevelt Hall, which housed ROTC, the next day students staged a sit-in at the administration building, the police seemed very invested in targeting minority students as they brought batons into play....

By then the President's house was ringed by State Troopers.

We couldn't sit still any longer....

And, neither can you...

Ironically, Obama's speech at the University of Michigan ,just last weekend, encouraged the graduates to pay attention to the political process... 40 years after Kent State...
posted by HuronBob at 9:47 PM on May 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


Content is blocked in my country indeed. The video is of Neil Young playing at Massey Hall. That's a few blocks from here.

Grumble.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:54 PM on May 3, 2010


Burhanistan...here ya go... 2008, Ann Arbor.
posted by HuronBob at 9:57 PM on May 3, 2010


That war might not have ended had not those college kids gotten killed. No one cared if it was some poor black kid or country white boy dying in some gawd-awful stinkhole swamp in Southeast Asia but let these privileged white college kids start getting pegged and all the sudden the brakes go on, and fast, too, all of the sudden people begin paying close attention.

Same thing today; the draft should be mandatory, and no college deferments, no way out -- every US kid, male and female, serves in the military. No "fortunate sons" in this one; everybody serves. And when little Muffy from Westlake Hills here in Austin calls from Afghanistan telling her daddy that her arms were blown into a tree, this war stops that afternoon.

War is the vilest thing that human beings engage in. I don't believe we'll ever stop it, we're just too easily fooled with talk about 'the evil-doers' and all the rest of it.

. for every human being killed by the death machines of humanity.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:08 PM on May 3, 2010 [12 favorites]


Burhanistan... student rallies... no, probably not.. not as you've described... here's a video of marches in Chicago and DC... but the reality is that these participates were, for the most part, my age... other than some Iraq vets. It seems those of us going through this for the second time remember....

I guess the question becomes, how do we communicate this passion and fire to the generations to follow...
posted by HuronBob at 10:13 PM on May 3, 2010


We marched here in Austin -- huge throngs, packed Congress Avenue for miles, filled up the state capital complex, where there were speeches and fire; we showed up. Made front page here in town of course, made it into the Houston, Dallas, and San Antone papers but nowhere near the coverage as you'd expect from Texas cities. Houston the same -- huge marches, all over page one there in Houston, not too much anywhere else in Texas.

Neither Austin nor Houston got any press in the Chicago papers.

And there were huge marches in Chicago -- it was massive. And of course it was front page in the Chicago papers. Somehow, it didn't make the Texas papers at all.

I watched it all unfold, as it unfolded.

They've got the press, now, absolutely own everything but the internet and most people -- not us me-fites but your average slob with an internet connection -- they are going to MSNBC or CNN.com or like that, and they will absolutely hear only what is put out. In the time of confrontation during the Vietnam years, there was at least a semblance of fair reporting, of honesty. Nothing any longer.

The fix is in.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:24 PM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


"I guess the question becomes, how do we communicate this passion and fire to the generations to follow..."

Re-institute the draft.
posted by vapidave at 10:28 PM on May 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


Loved hearing this from Neil alone, sans harmonies from CS&N.

I was 13 when the massacre happened. It was a defining moment for me: I came of age despising the president, and deeply suspicious of war and the machine behind it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:25 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Ohio," as covered by Devo. Interesting trivia: Devo co-founder Gerald Casale was actually present at the massacre, and knew two of the victims.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:38 PM on May 3, 2010


I'm was born in '68, and my parent's views have colored my own.

I hear this song with their ears. My views are theirs. My dad avoided the Draft by becoming one of the best teachers I've ever known. It was his way of being a conscientious objector. He still works at the same Catholic school 42 years later. He's still one of the best teachers in his areas. One of the best teachers I've seen in action ever, really. And that's with the caveat that it totally sucked to be a teacher's kid.

Once I'd talked to Viet Nam vet's kids, though, I was so happy my Dad was a teacher and didn't have to go away and kill strangers who didn't deserve it. Good grief, the nightmares. High school boys wrestling with their Dads during nightmares/flashbacks. Kids being afraid of their fathers.

I have vague memories of when this happened. I still cry when I see the pictures, read the reports, and hear this song.

Where are our singers? Where are our poets? Where are our photographers? Where are our artists? Where are our people getting out there with our kids coming back missing limbs and having brain damage and yelling about it?

Enough! Right?
posted by lilywing13 at 12:07 AM on May 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


.
Got my undergraduate there. Robert Stamps, grad student when i was there (and this was, '96) took our journalism class spot-by-spot to where each moment took place of the shooting, including where he was shot.

Until '99 or so you could still park your car on the exact spot students died.
And there's still a statue with a bullet hole in it.
posted by ambulance blues at 12:08 AM on May 4, 2010


HuronBob, thanks for the reminder of that terrible day.

Which also reminds me, there's a statue of Gov. Jim Rhodes (who said of the student protesters "They're worse than the Brownshirts, and the Communist element, and also the Night Riders, and the vigilantes. They're the worst type of people that we harbor in America.") standing outside the Ohio statehouse, and just across from the tallest building in Columbus, which also is named for him.

And darkstar, thanks for not forgetting Jackson State, where the students were black, and not commemorated in song, but just as dead.
posted by orthogonality at 12:45 AM on May 4, 2010


"I guess the question becomes, how do we communicate this passion and fire to the generations to follow..."

where's your nearest corner of Hyde Park? is it virtual or real? does it matter if its white or blue? or grey or green? let your voice soar and your fingers fly, each and every one of you reading this in your geographical coordinates.

where's bob dylan seeking his answers on the wind?
posted by infini at 1:16 AM on May 4, 2010


Well, the copyright monster seems to have devoured the link.
posted by pyrex at 1:33 AM on May 4, 2010


Can't watch. Flagged.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:22 AM on May 4, 2010


Can't watch. Flagged.

Upthread Burhanistan linked to a .ca version that worked, and still appears to be good, at least for me in japan, whereas the original link was blocked here.

Here it is again.

Maybe it's a good policy to read the thread, in cases like this, before you flag.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:36 AM on May 4, 2010


.ca link now blocked too.
posted by scruss at 4:40 AM on May 4, 2010


For more info:
Wikipedia entry on Kent State Massacre.
Wikipedia entry on Jackson State Massacre.
After the second one, it must have seemed like the whole country was going mad.


Naw, the JSU kids were black and "two dead in Mississippi" doesn't have the same meter.

But seriously, they were black.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:19 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry about the link snafu folks.. it seems to be watchable here
posted by HuronBob at 5:23 AM on May 4, 2010


I guess the question becomes, how do we communicate this passion and fire to the generations to follow

i think the tea partiers are doing a fine job of that - after all, they are the flip side of my generation's political protests of the 60s and 70s

the generations to follow may conclude that passion and fire are overrated

---

Re-institute the draft.

no, the current generation would passive/aggressively resist it - or more likely, just quietly go
posted by pyramid termite at 5:29 AM on May 4, 2010


Those kids would have been...what...70, 72? Their parents are probably (mostly) dead by now but I'm sure their families still feel the pain on this day. What a terrible thing; to raise your child and send them off to college with high hopes for the future only to have them shot down by your government.

Gerry Trudeau never forgot. I remember Doonesbury always had some reference to Kent state on the anniversary. The Rev. Scott had a cat named Kent State.

I had newspaper pictures clipped out and taped to my walls. I admired what the college students around the country were doing, and hoped I would have that passion for a good cause when I left home. Sadly, all I got was disco music.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:30 AM on May 4, 2010


Those kids would have been...what...70, 72?

Try 59 or 60. They were 19 and 20, and its been 40 years. I'm a mathemagician!
posted by Pollomacho at 5:36 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry about the link snafu folks.. it seems to be watchable here

Nope.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:59 AM on May 4, 2010


But if it's about Neil Young and Kent State, I'm sure it must be this performance with some Kent State graduates. Of course, that as recorded only 28 years ago, so it's probably just "Ohio." Yawn.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:03 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Exactly, I was a university student at the time of the Kent State Massacre, and I am now 58.
One of the strange things about the Vietnamese War is that the terrible enemy against whom the US fought so long and so desperately, North Vietnam, had never attacked the US at any time, before, during, or after the war. The North Vietnamese fought against US soldiers who had gone to Vietnam to fight with them, but they never even attempted to attack the US itself. Furthermore, the nightmare scenario of an unstoppable wave of totalitarian communism spreading across the planet, also never happened. Communism suddenly went out of fashion in 1990 and ceased to be a concern. So the Vietnamese War was competely unnecessary, as it turned out. It was based solely on a profound misreading of international politics.
Current wars are different. The US actually was attacked. And although it is true (as noted in several of the above comments) that war is a terrible thing, and there are always innocent people who suffer and die, and many injustices take place in the chaos and violence of war, pacifism does not always prevent war, sometimes it just invites it. Sometimes pacifism is a huge sign that reads "come and destroy us; we refuse to defend ourselves". That is a dangerous message to send.
There is no one solution that applies to every situation. You have to know when to fight and when not to fight. Of course, if the human race ever gets its act together, we will choose peace rather than war. As a species we have much better things that we could be doing other than fighting with each other. But the US cannot bring that about unilaterally. As long as the US is under attack, it must defend itself. Intelligently, we may hope.
posted by grizzled at 6:10 AM on May 4, 2010


I wrote a book on the 60s a few years ago and interviewed Barry Levine, Allison's Krause's boyfriend who was holding her hand when she was shot. I've posted the chapter for anyone to download. Feel free to do so and pass it around. You'll find it here:


jeff
posted by jeffisme at 6:28 AM on May 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


"If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement"

-California Governor Ronald Reagan on what to do about campus protests, 26 days before the Kent State massacre.
posted by rocket88 at 6:37 AM on May 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Recently watched this documentary based on 'David Maraniss' book, They Marched into Sunlight....

In one weekend in 1967, two occurrences at opposite ends of the world began the process whereby Americans convinced themselves that the Vietnam War was not worth fighting.

One of these was the ambush of an American battalion by the Vietcong, resulting in 61 casualties. The other was at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where state police ejected students who were campaigning against the presence presence on campus of recruiting agents for napalm manufacturers Dow Chemical.

This brilliant film works so well because its focus is so narrow. We see survivors of the ambushed battalion and we see the women who lost their husbands and who still recall, so many years later, their grief.'

You can watch it online here.
posted by Abiezer at 7:07 AM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reagan's comment above is not unusual. For those of you who weren't around back then, you may not be aware of how divided the U.S. culture was. Many youngsters assume most of the country was antiwar by 1970. Well, most, but not all.

The morning after the shooting, I was standing around with a bunch of cops ready to go out on duty. (I was a high school senior, and had cut my long hair to do an internship with a social worker, a schoolteacher, and a police officer, all in the same poor St. Louis neighborhood.)

One of the cops, to general agreement, said "Anyone who goes out on the street dressed like a clown deserves to be shot." A lot of men with guns hated hippies and protestors; it's surprising there weren't more casualties.
posted by kozad at 7:08 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


That war might not have ended had not those college kids gotten killed.

i grew up about 80 miles from kent. i remember when the shootings happened. buildings burning. riots. students down, students killed. outrage! indignity! but that didn't necessarily radiate southeast.

in my tiny town (village, actually), there was plenty of 'those kids got what they had coming to them!' i wore a black arm band to school the next day. (probably not my idea; don't know where it came from, but i thought it was important.) i was told i had to remove it. i was an obedient child & after muttering my protest & something about freedom of expression, did as i was told. oh, we discussed it in a class or two, but civil disobedience is a terrible, terrible thing with very real, sometimes terrible consequences. the questions remained, though, and the answers were hollow, and the contempt from the adults--not for the national guard, but for 'those damn kids who the hell do they think they are'--was palpable.

little did i know that the furtive conversations i had with like-minded peers would serve me well 30+ years later when the towers came down & any attempt to understand what had happened was met with glares of suspicion.

when it came time for me to go to college, kent state wasn't even on my radar. i was afraid of the place; they killed people there. to this day, i've only ever driven through the campus once, and i don't remember why.

casale himself said may 4, 1970 is "the day I stopped being a hippie." lots of us did. even those of us who were too young to understand what being a hippie was. the summer of love died with woodstock, and while anti-war/anti-national guard protests were nationwide following the kent state massacre, something very important, something inside people like me, died there, too. and was replaced by a fear that this could happen to me, to us, and when it did, people would look sideways & say, 'bah. she got what she deserved. '

so yeah; the war might not have ended when it did had those college kids not gotten killed. but it would have ended because it was beyond doomed at that point. and had they not gotten killed, not only would *they* still be alive, some of my fire, some of my dreams might be, too.
posted by msconduct at 7:10 AM on May 4, 2010


grizzled writes: Current wars are different. The US actually was attacked.

The US went to war in Iraq, but Iraq never attacked the US. The US went to war in Afghanistan, but Afghanistan never attacked the US. The US was attacked by a ragtag bunch of Saudis, in what many people (myself included) maintain should be viewed more as a international criminal act than an Act of War.

So the Vietnamese War was competely unnecessary, as it turned out. It was based solely on a profound misreading of international politics.

As were the Iraq wars, as is the Afghan war. Your argument that these "current wars" are justified, therefore, seems to me to be every bit as much of a "profound misreading" as you've indicated was behind the Vietnam war.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:21 AM on May 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Current wars are different. The US actually was attacked. [...] Sometimes pacifism is a huge sign that reads "come and destroy us; we refuse to defend ourselves". That is a dangerous message to send.

I've probably said similar things myself, but I dunno if it's actually true. Historical examples of large pacifist nations getting attacked are hard to come by. Meanwhile, the threat of retaliation did nothing to stop Al-Qaeda on 9/11. Retaliation was quite possibly the goal of the initial attack.

Afghanistan didn't even attack us in the traditional sense. The Taliban obviously knew some stuff was going down that America might not like, but it doesn't seem like they knew about 9/11 in advance.

Of course, our response wasn't war, either. Our version of war consists of imposing ultra-violent police states on troublesome nations. It's not real effective, either. We're not dealing with problematic governments so much as problematic ideologies. This whole cycle will repeat itself again in some other essentially lawless, ungovernable nation where all our threats of retaliation are meaningless. Terrorist groups can always just hop across a border and set up shop in the next place. We're not deterring *anything* here. We're just showing ourselves to be the jack-booted thugs they think we are.

As for Pacifism? It only works when someone is willing to take the first step. The United States is in a particularly good place to do this. No other nation has the resources to shrug off a few pot shots like we do.
posted by paanta at 7:38 AM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've posted the chapter for anyone to download.

Thanks, Jeff. You know, as I read about the students' disbelief in their fellow Americans willingness to shoot them (a disbelief shared by more than a few who were there: John Fillo said "I thought they were firing blanks." Howard Ruffner believed "they were shooting in the air.") I can only think "You poor brave fools." I don't think I've ever been that innocent or that fearless in my life. How sad is that?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:44 AM on May 4, 2010


Thanks, jeffisme. That's a really powerful interview.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:45 AM on May 4, 2010


Sometimes pacifism is a huge sign that reads "come and destroy us; we refuse to defend ourselves". That is a dangerous message to send.

1. What is this in reference to?
2. Examples?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:48 AM on May 4, 2010


No other nation has the resources to shrug off a few pot shots like we do.

Mm. Grisly.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:50 AM on May 4, 2010


It's true that Iraq did not attack the US and there could have been other ways to deal with Iraq without going to war. Indeed, the invasion of Kuwait in 1991 could have been accepted as a fait accompli, with the admission that the charter of the UN is actually meaningless and it is pointless to try to enforce it. We do not really know what the consequences of that decision would have been; in the worst case scenario we get a steadily expanding Iraqi empire, overrunning the middle east one nation at a time and eventually getting into a nuclear war with Israel, or possibly Europe if it is successful in digesting Israel. But that's the worst case scenario. It is also possible that Saddam Hussein really just wanted Kuwait, and would have stopped there. We will never know.

Afghanistan did attack the US, though, however much you (flapjax at midnite) would rather deny it. Osama bin Laden was the minister of defense in the Taliban government at the time of the attack, it was done with full, if clandestine support by the government of Afghanistan, and following the attack the government of Afghanistan refused to extradite bin Laden or anyone else who had been involved, offering instead to have their own trials in Islamic courts (conveniently allowing terrorists to try themselves). Just because they were sneaky about it doesn't mean that they were not behind the attack.

And you (paanta) suggest that by retaliating, we merely play into the hands of terrorists who wanted us to retaliate. Maybe they did want us to retaliate, lunatics that they are, but nonetheless, the Taliban no longer rules Afghanistan. There are all sorts of consequences that are not going to fit into their fantasies of global Islamic conquest.

And war against terrorism is futile anyway, you go on to tell us, since terrorists just go somewhere else, you can never find them, never pin them down. Well, lots of terrorists went from Afghanistan to Pakistan and are now at war with Pakistan, and are getting killed in large numbers. All these things come at a price. Terrorists operate in many places but they are also making many enemies in those places.

In the end, who knows, maybe terrorists are unstoppable and will destroy civilization. But that doesn't mean that civilization should just give up without a fight.
posted by grizzled at 7:56 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe you're unstoppable, grizzled, and maybe you're our last bulwark against terrorism. But that doesn't mean you should turn a thread marking the 40th anniversary of the Kent State shootings into a discussion of Saddam Hussein's threats to world peace. (Especially since the dude is, like, dead already.)
posted by octobersurprise at 8:05 AM on May 4, 2010


Osama bin Laden was the minister of defense in the Taliban government at the time of the attack
This is completely wrong too AFAIK - their minister was Obaidullah Akhund
posted by Abiezer at 8:06 AM on May 4, 2010


grizzled, whereas I don't agree with lilywing13, paanta or flapjax at midnite about everything and in fact disagree with them on several points, if you are going to disagree with them, please employ logic, learn to do research, get your facts right and lay off the hyped rhetoric that you are employing.

It splatter the rest of us and we don't like getting covered in crazy dirt.
posted by Dagobert at 8:15 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Re-institute the draft.

There was one?
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 8:15 AM on May 4, 2010


Osama bin Laden was the minister of defense in the Taliban government at the time of the attack

That's a new one on me.
posted by blucevalo at 8:19 AM on May 4, 2010


There is a difference between Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan and I do not know what it is. In early 2003 when the Iraq invasion was being organized I felt that I had to censor myself. When I expressed misgivings about the plan I was informed unanimously and oppressively that "not supporting the troops" was equivalent to callous indifference over American soldiers being maimed and killed. I think Bush #I's folks scored a propaganda accomplishment in the first Persian gulf war with the "support our troops" sound bite and the yellow ribbons. They seem to me to have complete command of public discussion and major media.

Apparently dead and maimed Iraqis and Afghans mean nothing to 80 or 90 percent of Americans. And as much as I admire Noam Chomsky and the other protesting voices I do not have much energy to stay with it through the burden of the depression it breeds in me to think how far out on the fringe those guys are. I have all these Chomsky CD's and I agree with a huge amount of what he says, but if I play two in a row it makes me feel physically ill.
posted by bukvich at 8:29 AM on May 4, 2010


One of those killed that day was Jeff Miller. He deserves to be remembered. That we celebrate our warriors--victims of their bellicose native land--is I suppose, natural. I choose to honor those who stood in dignity and honor for peace.
posted by ahimsakid at 8:40 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see that I have offended several people because of my belief that the US should defend itself when it is attacked. As much as you would like to believe that the Vietnamese War and the current war in Afghanistan are equivalent, they aren't. octobersurpirse wants to know why I would even bring it up when the purpose of this discussion is to remember the tragedy of Kent State. But it was brought up previously by several other people, commenting on how terrible it is that the US is once again at war, just as it was at the time of the Kent State massacre. I was merely replying. octobersurprise also says that maybe I am unstoppable and am the last bulwark against terrorism, something I have never said or suggested in any way. I am merely posting a comment. I am under no illusion that my discussions will alter the course of global politics or defeat terrorism (and who knows, perhaps I will not even be understood by a single reader!). Dagobert accuses me of splattering him in crazy dirt. Well, that is certainly a substantial political analysis. I see the error of my ways. Burhanistan replies that my statement is absolute bullshit - again, a definitive analysis that no person would dare to disagree with. I am dazzled by the level of logic in this discussion. Good work, all.
posted by grizzled at 8:43 AM on May 4, 2010


1. I see that I have offended several people because of my belief that the US should defend itself when it is attacked.
2. As much as you would like to believe that the Vietnamese War and the current war in Afghanistan are equivalent, they aren't.
3. Dagobert accuses me of splattering him in crazy dirt. Well, that is certainly a substantial political analysis. I see the error of my ways. Burhanistan replies that my statement is absolute bullshit - again, a definitive analysis that no person would dare to disagree with.
4. I am dazzled by the level of logic in this discussion.

1. We're not offended by your belief so much as we're embarrassed by it.
2. Please clarify to whom this is directed.
3. Others have also pointed out specific factual errors with your statements. Any response to those?
4. Indeed.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:56 AM on May 4, 2010


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