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"Peace-loving" protesters: Kent State revisited

By Steve Farrell
web posted March 10, 2003

Liberal media pundits just can't help themselves -- to them, peace protesters are almost always, thoughtful, moral, visionary people who only desire peace, love and happiness to reign; loyal citizens who only seek to exercise their democratic voice responsibly; and a voice crying in the wilderness amidst a storm of blood-thirsty drum-beaters, who only seek to bring reason to the debate.

If only this were true.

Needless to say, maintaining the peace is a legitimate object of government and as Patrick Henry put it, "different men see the same subject in different lights." (1)

But let's not let obscure the truth behind smoke screens. Some peace protesters raise legitimate issues from the purest of motives. Others cry "peace, peace, [when] there is no peace," (2) -- no, not peace in the world, for our enemies surround us -- and certainly not peace in their hearts for their profane voices and filthy hands fill the world with nonsense, hatred and violence against their fellow Americans.

A famous image of the aftermath of the Kent State incident but not the entire truth
A famous image of the aftermath of the Kent State incident but not the entire truth

The Vietnam "peace" protest at Kent State in May of 1970, a protest that culminated in four college students dying at the hands of the Ohio National Guard, is a case in point.

Whether the United States belonged in Vietnam in the first place, is debatable. President Johnson, a democrat, said we were there fulfilling our obligations under SEATO (The South East Asian Treaty Organization).

Once the War began in earnest, it could have been, should have been a war to halt the spread of communism in South East Asia, liberating millions from its murderous brutality. There should have been no substitute for victory, swift and absolute victory. Many experts, then and now, still feel the war was winnable in a matter of weeks with minimal casualties, had we been allowed to win. (3)

But other people had other goals for Vietnam. Some of these others drafted nefarious "rules of engagement" which cost thousands of Americans lives, rules like permitting the Vietcong to launch attacks against our boys from designated "safe areas." (4)

On May 1, 1970, President Nixon said enough is enough and as Commander-in-Chief did what MacArthur was forbidden to do in Korea -- attack the bad guys in their hide out in Cambodia. This was war, not neighborhood night games! Nixon sent our troops into Cambodia in self-defense -- remembering that when under actual attack, a state of war exists, period.

There were other "others" who had other goals in mind. Communist front student organizations organized peace protests at our colleges and in our
streets, keeping this in mind, the communist definition of peace is zero resistance. The organizers hoped to break America's will, undermine her moral resolve, divide and conquer her.

Their peace protests were anything but peaceful -- often they were orgies of violence.

Robert H. Bork writes:

"Kent State was hardly a placid campus before the Cambodian operation. The university had 21,000 students, and a sizeable SDS chapter [a communist front group] devoted to making trouble. In November, 1968, for example, charges were brought against 250 members of SDS and the Black United Students who had demonstrated against police recruiting on campus.

"The charges were dropped when about 300 black students left campus demanding amnesty. On April 8, 1969, SDS led a demonstration that resulted in clashes with university police. The demonstrators demanded that the university abolish the Reserve Officers Training Corps, a crime laboratory, and a school for law enforcement training. State police were called in and quelled the disruption. SDS was then banned from campus, thirty-seven students were suspended, and five were charged with assault and battery. Worse was yet to come.

"On the evening of May 1, 1970, a day after Richard Nixon announced an American counter-attack into Cambodia, students rioted in the main street of town, broke windows, set fires, and damaged cars. On May 2, a crowd of about 800 assembled on campus, disrupted a dance in a university hall, smashed the windows of the ROTC building, and threw lighted railroad flares inside. The building burned to the ground. A professor who watched the arson later told the Scranton commission, which investigated the shooting and the events leading up to it, 'I have never in my 17 years of teaching seen a group of students as threatening, or as arrogant, or a bent on destruction.'

"When fireman arrived students threw rocks at them, slashed their hoses with machetes, took away hoses and turned them on the firefighters. The police finally stopped the riot with tear gas. The National Guard was called in by the governor on May 2 and student rioters pelted them with rocks, doused trees with gasoline, and set them afire. Students attempted to march into town on May 3 but were stopped by the National Guard, the Kent city police department, the Ohio highway patrol, and the county sheriff's department. The protesters shouted obscenities and threw rocks.

"From May 1 to May 4 there were, in addition, riots in the town's main street, looting, the intimidation of passing motorists, stoning of police, directions to local merchants to put antiwar posters in their windows or have their stores thrashed, and miscellaneous acts of arson. All of this occurred before the shooting.

"On May 4, a Monday, about a thousand students gathered on campus. Guardsmen arrived and, probably unwisely, ordered the crowd to disperse. The order was predictably ignored. The Guard fired tear gas canisters into the crowd. The Guard, consisting of a hundred men surrounded by rioters shouting obscenities and chanting "Kill, kill, kill," were under a constant barrage of rocks, chunks of concrete and cinderblock, and canisters. Fifty-eight Guardsmen were injured by thrown objects. Several of them were knocked to the ground. They had little tear gas left, and the gas had, in any event, been made ineffective by the wind. The Guardsmen retreated up the hill, appearing frightened, and then some of them suddenly turned and fired for thirteen seconds. The firing was apparently spontaneous rather than ordered." (5)

Peace protest? Legitimate democratic action? Moral visionaries? A voice of reason? Our leftist media would have us believe that about the "innocents" who led the peace protests at Kent State and elsewhere across the United States during the Vietnam Era, just as they would have us believe the same about the simmering anti-war protest today. The "official" take on Kent State is that Nixon's war mongering police state was to blame. But who were the real culprits?

Contact Steve at stiffrightjab@enterstageright.com.

1. Henry, Patrick. "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death."
2. Ibid.
3. See the author's Why We Lost In Vietnam
4. Ibid.
5. Bork, Robert H. Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and the American Decline. Regan Books, New York, NY, 1996, pgs. 44-46.

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