Kent State: The Continuing Debate

This year’s Kent State ritual had something in common with the recent Virginia Tech murders; both were commemorated at Kent State and both incidents were a result of student violence.

On hand for the ceremony were Cindy Sheehan, who makes a lifestyle out of prostituting her grief by exploiting her brave son to the Left,  residual ‘60s radicals Tom “we are all Vietcong” Hayden, and Alan Canfora,  a former Kent State student and self-appointed martyr, who was shot in the wrist during the riot.

Canfora, who evidently needs an extension on his 15 minutes, has produced a “recording” of what he claims are orders shouted to the Guardsmen to commence firing.  The recording, which he posted on his website, is full of static and pretty unintelligible.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Canfora’s accusation is as credible as an Elvis sighting.

An article I wrote about the shooting was published in the student newspapers the Daily Kent Stater and the Spectrum at Cuyahoga Community College, in 1986.   What I mentioned then is just as true now.

College campuses in the ‘60s and ‘70s were a playground for upper middle-class juvenile delinquents with a lot of time on their hands.  Cowardice and self-serving motives were concealed behind noble-sounding principles of the anti-war participants.   The dedicated ‘bring them home’ crowd celebrated by showering Vietnam Veterans with rocks, bottles, spit, and shouts of “baby killer”.  Then, just like now, the hypocrisy of “support the troops, not the war” is the standard party line.

They supported the Vietcong and NVA, and spouted the ‘virtues’ of Communism without ever being subjected to its consequences.  They were (and some still are) what Vladimir Lenin referred to as “Useful Idiots”.

In May 1970, the Kent State provocateurs not only moved the line, but crossed it several times. Consider the events which led to the confrontation on the Kent State campus.

Beginning on the evening of May 1st,  both campus and town were embroiled in a state of anarchy and violence. Kent State students, in the process of exercising their “freedom of expression” were looting, committing arson, threatening motorists, stoning police, and informing local merchants—who were deemed as bourgeois cogs in the capitalist machine— to place anti-war posters in their windows or have their stores demolished. The local police force was not equipped to handle the level of violence compounded by the imminent threat from the increasing number of protestors.

When the 145th Infantry of the Ohio National Guard arrived on May 2nd they were met with a situation spiraling out of control.  They were pelted with a ceaseless barrage of rocks, slag, and wrenches; anything the little anarchists could get their hands on.  They were often approached by students who would act polite at first and then say, “But tonight we’re going to kill you”.  Firefighters trying to extinguish blazes set by the protestors were also assaulted and had their water hoses slashed.

The tension fluctuated between confrontation and quiet up until May 4th.  Just prior to the shootings, the turmoil reached a crisis level with the militants greeting the Guardsmen with more profanity and projectiles.  The Guardsman advanced across the Commons, threw tear gas, and intermittently pointed their weapons, bayonets attached, in an attempt to drive back the brawling mob.
The unit followed them down Blanket Hill, and then marched back up the knoll with rock-throwing demonstrators on their heels. The Guard then turned and opened fire.  This action appears to have been spontaneous and most likely a reaction to the threat of bodily harm.  In addition, not all the Soldiers who fired aimed directly at the students.   Accounts state that 16 Soldiers fired between 35 and 40 rounds from M1 rifles; some into the ground, others into the air.   The erratic nature was a clear indication that the shots were fired in an effort to warn and keep the crowd at bay.  If the actions had been premeditated and they had carefully aimed shots at the closest students, who were on the Taylor Hall veranda, all if not most would have been dead or wounded.

Those Guardsmen bore the brunt of a 3-day battle with rampaging miscreants, hell-bent on anything except peaceful demonstrations.  Under the circumstances, the 145th Infantry maintained an admirable level of restraint.

Every recollection of that day recites the student casualties—9 wounded, 4 dead—but no mention of the numerous National Guard casualties; a total of 60 injured, three of which were hospitalized with severe wounds.  Of all the interviews and analysis, no one bothers to ask the former National Guardsmen how they felt about being put in a situation where they were expected to quell violent student radicals and then criticized for defending themselves.

May 4th was a culmination of everything which led up to it.  The student radicals couldn’t have done worse if they had gotten on their knees and begged for trouble.   College educated know-it-alls just couldn’t fathom a State Governor sending in National Guard troops in direct proportion to the “unrest”.  Knowing the powder keg was about to blow, smart people would have stayed away from the fracas or off campus altogether, which brings me to this question: Why didn’t University President Robert White exercise his authority and common sense?  That campus should have been shut down, all students evacuated, and trespassers arrested.

The tragedy at Kent State was self-inflicted.  Those who participated in the riots, arson, abuse toward the Guard, and those who urged them on, share responsibility for the deaths on May 4th.  Indeed, the Ohio Grand Jury concluded that the Guardsmen had “fired in honest and sincere belief they would suffer bodily injury had they not done so.”   That assessment was an understatement.

In the midst of memorializing Kent State, there should be a clear realization of what constitutes peaceful protest as opposed to terrorism.

They had a constitutional right to peaceful protest, not a free license to commit violence. The state only responded when they decided to rampage. But that’s the way it is with leftwingnuts. Blame others because personal accountability is just too hard.

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