Four Dead in Ohio
by Peter Rothberg
Today is the 39th anniversary of the infamous killings of four
student antiwar protesters at Kent State University by members of the
Ohio National Guard. Nine other students were wounded, one of whom
suffered permanent paralysis.
Some of the students had been protesting on campus against the
American invasion of Cambodia, which then-President Richard Nixon had
recently announced in a television address on April 30. Other
students who were shot had merely been walking nearby or observing
the protest from a distance.
The killings helped galvanize antiwar sentiment even further
especially among young people, as hundreds of universities, colleges,
and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student
strike of eight million students in protest of the shootings.
At the time, The Nation called for indictments and a re-evaluation
and re-regulation of each state's National Guard so as to avert
future tragedies. And in his Archivist blog, Jeff Kisseloff
illuminates the human dimension of the murders through a conversation
with the mother and boyfriend-at-the-time of Alison Krause, one of
the four students killed.
This video captures the intensity, tragedy and chaos of the day. [See URL]
30 Rocks in Her Head
by Jeff Kisseloff
I think I have a fairly decent sense of humor, but a joke on 30 Rock
last week didn't strike me as particularly funny. It was uttered by
Tina Fey's character Liz Lemon, and the punchline had to do with her
grandfather being the shooter at Kent State.
Funny stuff, to some people, I guess. To me, though, it just
demonstrated that even the best comedians need an editor.
The joke just cut too close to home. A couple of years ago, I wrote a
book on the '60s, and I had a chance to get to know Barry Levine, who
was holding his girlfriend Allison Krause's hand when she was shot
and killed at Kent State. Neither Barry, nor Allison's family has
really recovered from her death. I'm sure the same can be said for
the families of the other victims of what The Nation called a murder,
and it surely was--one for which no one was punished.
That article will be part of a special project being put together for
The Nation web site, highlighting 100 of the most important events in
American history as covered by the magazine, from post-Civil War
America up until today.
Here is the original editorial on the Kent State murders that
appeared in the magazine. There was also a follow-up on efforts of
the families and journalist Peter Davies to get some justice in the case.
May 4 marks the 39th anniversary of the killings. When I spoke to
Barry and Allison's mother Doris, I asked them at the end of our
conversation if they could reflect on Allison's death. This is what they said:
Doris Krause: When we lived in Washington, we'd go to the FBI
building, and they would tell us how from a speck of paint they could
tell you the make of a car, the year and the model. Why couldn't any
of them tell me which one of them killed my daughter? We're still
waiting to hear from the Guard as to who gave the order to fire. They
still won't divulge that. I'd also like to know how a 19-year-old
girl with no gun could intimidate these big men carrying rifles.
You know, in only two states can the National Guard carry ammunition
in their guns; unluckily, Ohio is one of them. So one lesson is to
keep guns off-campus. The other lesson is how far the government is
willing to go to quell protest, and then keep people in the dark
about it. Our daughter was shot and killed, yet afterward we were
treated like the enemy.
Barry Levine: It's very frightening, because it can happen again.
Still, I tell my son, you have the absolute right to question
authority, but you can't be so naive to think that questioning
authority, which can result in speaking against the authority, can be
seen in a vacuum. You need to be conscious of the fact that
questioning authority anywhere can be a benign learning experience,
or it can be dangerous, because a government is always going to act
to preserve itself.
But do I think it's still vital to question authority? Always, from
the beginning to the end of time.
Doris Krause: There are so many things I still don't want to think
about. You know, after Allison was killed, friends compiled a reel of
home movies of Allison and I still haven't been able to look at it
because Allison is partially alive in those films. It's just too
hard. The anniversaries don't get any easier with time. They just
point out what I have missed in my life. I got a letter from someone
who said, "There is no greater loss than the loss of a full grown
child." I can vouch for that. I have no idea what she would have
done. She was a strong person like my husband. She could have done
anything. But she was just starting out in her life.
Barry Levine: For students and for so many other people around the
country, it got to the point where they had to do whatever it took to
stop the war, and when the government didn't listen, they threw
themselves on the wheels and the levers to stop the machinery. Some
of them got killed for it, but in the long run, not Allison
individually, but collectively, the people that stood up and spoke up
eventually helped contribute to stopping the machinery of the war.
Who knows how many tens of thousands of lives that saved. That's one
way I come to grips with Allison's murder.
Tina Fey had another.
Here are some photos of Allison and Barry.