Forty Years Ago Today

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Forty Years Ago Today

Postby billybud » Tue May 04, 2010 11:07 am

Forty years ago today an event rocked my 23 year old world.

A group of guardsmen turned and fired 68 rounds at the unarmed protesting students of Kent State. Although still young and a sophomore, I was a vet and somewhat of a hawk. I was stunned, as we all were.


After all of the investigations, no one has ever asserted that any order took place. It seems that a lack of discipline caused some guardsman on the hill to wheel and shoot and then others joined in. I have often wondered about that. That 68 rounds would be fired, that troops wheeled around almost in unison and fired, yet no order to fire?

I do think that the deaths and injuries at Kent State were not necessarily in vain. That protest and its aftermath marked a turning point of sorts for a lot of public opinion. Certainly mine.
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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby donovan » Tue May 04, 2010 2:13 pm

Like you, I remember this incident well. I had just returned but still in. This was not my turning point, had already been there, just another testament that the United States was no longer United and the studied cohesiveness of WWII had eroded.

I believe today my frustrations intensify because there is no one out there that comes close to reflecting my views...and frankly most of my friends views, even if we are on the different side of the page.
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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby Spence » Tue May 04, 2010 2:34 pm

It was definately an over-reaction - whether it was an organized over reaction or not has and will be debated for years. Lots of people, though, seem to refer to this as a peacefull protest turned ugly by the national guard, which it wasn't. These students and other protesters were burning buildings - including the ROTC buiding- and had been throwing rocks, bottles, and other things and the police, fireman, guard, and anyone charged with getting in their way. They were engaging in a violent protest. Not that it excuses the shootings, because they seemed to be more panic driven then a planned response, but even that day they guard and police tried to disperse the crowd and they had decided to resist that order.

Basically, I am saying that these people (a couple thousand or so) decided to provoke their adversaries with mob violence and then were surprised and indignant when they were met with the same. So while what the guard did, in a position of authority was wrong - maybe even criminal, the students and protesters (as a group) were not innocent bystanders in this - athough a couple of kids that were killed were innocent bystanders.

There is a why to protest peacefully and they were protesting peacefully. It doesn't make what happened right or excuse the guard in any way, but it does give an example of how things can escalate out of control when mobs of people gather and engage in violent behavior. I'm not sure most people give the protesters behavior enough credit for what happened at Kent State.
"History doesn't always repeat itself but it often rhymes." - Mark Twain

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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby billybud » Tue May 04, 2010 6:27 pm

Spence...

I guess you had to be there..in the times, that is.

Many protests were violent and ugly...campus offices were seized, a few buildings burned (The ROTC building at Kent State, for one), cops were pelted...this was the age of the SDS and the Weathemen. An age of extreme student activism. The spirit of the Freedom Riders martyrs turned violently anti authority and had more in common with the armed Black Panthers than with Martin Luther King. The protests turned to be violent after the 1968 racially charged riots that burned sections of many major cities. Film of troops patrolling streets in combat patrols was on TV at night. A notorious clip showed a guardsman shotgunning a guy running out of a store with a TV.

Much like at Kent State, at Jackson State in Mississippi the guardsmen opened fire killing two and wounding twelve (all of the guard were white, all of those shot were black).

But these twin tragedies (and you don't hear much of Jackson State, maybe because they were black) actually were the zenith of the violence. The protests continued but both sides exercised more caution.

Those who did not live the times would have a difficult time understanding the heat of the emotions and the complete break between the young in college and authority.

But...back to the Kent State guardsmen...they were on top of the hill retreating and were in no physical danger. They wheeled and fired, I believe, because they were pissed off.


The 60's and early 70's changed America. We integrated. We learned to question government policy when it means war and the loss of young men. We now do not fire at unarmed civilians. The Chinese do and we deplore it. In the later Liberty City and Overtown riots, troops did not fire on the crowds as they burned buildings and pelted troops. Our protesters have also changed. The Boomers were activists and passionate in numbers that would not be seen again.
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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby Spence » Tue May 04, 2010 7:08 pm

I was young, but not so young that I don't remember Kent State or understand what was going on. Kent State was national news for sure, but here, it was not a national story. It was a very big deal. Most people here new someone that was around that particular situation. Even though many protests were violent and ugly that doesn't make it OK. Arson is a felony. Stoning people is a felony. Setting off explosives is a felony. It is no different then the Al Qaeda members blowing up buildings in New York city. It is a terriost act and people who engage in those type of activities should not be surprise that violence comes their way. It is a terrible thing that people who werent involved were killed. It is a shame that the guard backed themselves into a corner and felt threatened because of a bad decision. It is a shame that protesters started moving in on them throwing tear gas canisters, rocks, and bottles at the soldiers. It is a shame that the wind didn't allow the tear gas to do it's job.

I feel sad for the families of the four who died. I feel for the innocent that were caught up in this. Whether or not the guard acted rightly or wrongly, the blame for this doesn't fall on their shoulders, it falls on the people who supported violent protest. As with all college kids there most were stupid enough to believe they were invincible and they were sheep to the actual terrorists that protested a war they believed to be wrong by murdering innocent people and destroying property all over the nation.

Just because I wasn't an adult at the time, doesn't change the fact that no matter the situation, these radicals were terrorists. And they used the sheep to their end and in this case lead them to the slaughter.


I have no idea if this story has validity, but it is as plausable as any other thing that explains what happened that day.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/04/new-light-shed-on-kent-state-killings/?page=2
"History doesn't always repeat itself but it often rhymes." - Mark Twain

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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby billybud » Tue May 04, 2010 7:40 pm

crap fella...these "terrorists" were us....regular college students. Just like those "baby killers" were us...just regular young men a few years out of high school who hammered hootches with AW fire. Labels don't tell the story and are just a short cut to justification.

Yeah, shoot to kill orders put a damper on violent protests...we've seen that in numerous countries with the military in control. "Disappearances" work too.
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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby billybud » Tue May 04, 2010 7:43 pm

And I admit.....I scaled a college building in the dark of night to hang bedsheets printed with slogans down the side...my military learned rappelling skills used at last.

I was not violent....but I was there.
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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby Spence » Tue May 04, 2010 8:01 pm

billybud wrote:crap fella...these "terrorists" were us....regular college students. Just like those "baby killers" were us...just regular young men a few years out of high school who hammered hootches with AW fire. Labels don't tell the story and are just a short cut to justification.

Yeah, shoot to kill orders put a damper on violent protests...we've seen that in numerous countries with the military in control. "Disappearances" work too.



It isn't crap. These people were terrorists. What is the difference between them and Timothy Mcveigh? Nothing. Comparing these people to soldiers fighting a war is crap. People who burnt buildings, murdered people, and set off explosions in the name of political activism were terrorists. Most students protesting or hanging signs on sheets from buildings - were not terrorists of course, but they were sympathetic to the cause. Which gave support to the terrorists. No different then muslims around the world who cheer when Americans come to harm. That is something they have to justify to themselves and their moral code to deal with - civil disobedience is not against the law in most cases.
"History doesn't always repeat itself but it often rhymes." - Mark Twain

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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby Spence » Tue May 04, 2010 8:21 pm

I don't and didn't support our governments handling of Vietnam. Whether the reasons for going were in our interest or not is something to be debated, but our governments handling of the war "politically" was a huge blunder. When you fight a war, you should fight to win - period. You fight to keep as many of our people safe as possible - what happens to the enemy is their responsibility. Americans blowing up and burning buildings and in some cases killing other Americans has no justification in my view. They were terrorists no different then Tim Mcveigh. You may agree with their political view to a point, but when they become political extremists and decide their politcal causes are more important then the lives of innocent people, then they are wrong.
"History doesn't always repeat itself but it often rhymes." - Mark Twain

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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby billybud » Tue May 04, 2010 8:29 pm

Yep terrorists! Just a frickin' label that one side puts on another.

Soldiers fighting a war are often terrorists to the other side....you can bet that when those drones fire up a hell fire and incinerate a wedding party (oops!) that the relatives think of them as terrorists. When we burned villes because they were suspected of harboring VC, you can bet that the civilians thought of us as "terrorists" when their homes and belongings went up in smoke..

The Isreali heroes of the days of nation creation were the same guys who planted bombs in the King David Hotel. The leader of Irgun, Menachem Begin later became a Prime Minister. Terrorists to the British....George Washington to the Isrealis.

Yep...students were violent and protested what they thought was an out of control government.

Man. those soccer hooligans are really terrorists from what I've seen....a machine gun into the crowd would help that, huh?

Nuts!
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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby billybud » Tue May 04, 2010 8:34 pm

Timothy McVeigh killed hundreds with malice and planning...those students killed zippo. A bad analogy.

A better analogy would be the Boston Massacre....where British troops fired on the crowd (Colonial terrorists, you know).

"On March 5, 1770 a small group of colonists were up to their usual sport of tormenting British soldiers. By many accounts there was a great deal of taunting that eventually lead to an escalation of hostilities. The sentry in front of the Custom House eventually lashed out at the colonists which brought more colonists to the scene. In fact, someone began ringing the church bells which usually signified a fire. The sentry called for help, setting up the clash which we now call the Boston Massacre.

A group of soldiers led by Captain Thomas Preston came to the rescue of the lone sentry. Captain Preston and his detachment of seven or eight men were quickly surrounded. All attempts to calm the crowd proved useless. At this point, the accounts of the event vary drastically. Apparently, a soldier fired a musket into the crowd, immediately followed by more shots. This action left several wounded and five dead including an African-American named Crispus Attucks. The crowd quickly dispersed, and the soldiers went back to their barracks. "
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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby billybud » Tue May 04, 2010 8:45 pm

In fact...as I think about it...the Boston Massacre is almost an exact analogy for Kent State.

Soldiers who were beleaguered by civilians who were protesting government authority. Accounts of sticks being thrown, insults, snowballs, etc. Shots fired into the crowd without order (determined by a jury) and unarmed civilians (terrorists?) laying dead in the snow.

Heroes to our forefathers, terrorist rabble to the British.
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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby Spence » Tue May 04, 2010 9:31 pm

billybud wrote:In fact...as I think about it...the Boston Massacre is almost an exact analogy for Kent State.

Soldiers who were beleaguered by civilians who were protesting government authority. Accounts of sticks being thrown, insults, snowballs, etc. Shots fired into the crowd without order (determined by a jury) and unarmed civilians (terrorists?) laying dead in the snow.

Heroes to our forefathers, terrorist rabble to the British.


Maybe, at least the colonists had the cajones to attack the authorities and not blow up public buildings with innocent people in them. Also there is a huge difference in damage that rocks will do compared with snowballs. I don't know why you try an justify these acts of terrorism just because you may have agreed with the them politically. Most of the guys were spoiled brats that got their rocks by burning buildings and flying high on a huge ego and power trip.

The Boston tea party was a direct action by the colonists against the British government. The weathermen didn't target the government, they were cowards. They went after public buildings and things that would get them the most press. Billy Ayers didn't have the guts to go after the government. The weathermen had no regard for human life. They wanted a revolution alright, they just didn't want to face their enemy. They were no different then Al Qaeda. Radicals with no regard for human life.
"History doesn't always repeat itself but it often rhymes." - Mark Twain

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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby Derek » Tue May 04, 2010 9:40 pm

http://opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010438

I don't believe the baby killer stuff. Sorry. I was not there, but I don't buy it.

This article explains a lot about why I feel that way.

During the Vietnam War we spread vitriolic stories around the world, pretending that America's presidents sent Genghis Khan-style barbarian soldiers to Vietnam who raped at random, taped electrical wires to human genitals, cut off limbs, blew up bodies and razed entire villages. Those weren't facts. They were our tales, but some seven million Americans ended up being convinced their own president, not communism, was the enemy. As Yuri Andropov, who conceived this dezinformatsiya war against the U.S., used to tell me, people are more willing to believe smut than holiness.

The final goal of our anti-American offensive was to discourage the U.S. from protecting the world against communist terrorism and expansion. Sadly, we succeeded. After U.S. forces precipitously pulled out of Vietnam, the victorious communists massacred some two million people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Another million tried to escape, but many died in the attempt. This tragedy also created a credibility gap between America and the rest of the world, damaged the cohesion of American foreign policy, and poisoned domestic debate in the U.S.
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Re: Forty Years Ago Today

Postby Spence » Tue May 04, 2010 10:02 pm

If guys like Phillip Berrigan, Dave Dellinger, Bernardine Dohrn, Abbie Hoffman, Timothy Leary, Jerry Rubin, and Bill Ayres lived under the kind of government they dreamed of having they would have been executed and no one would know who they are now. Bill Ayres had it especially bad in this country, drawing a public paycheck all his life while teaching how bad and corrupt this government has been. Now the criminals are running the joint. They are determined to bankrupt this country and deliver us to the utopian Chinese government they so admire.
"History doesn't always repeat itself but it often rhymes." - Mark Twain


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