By: Christopher Taylor
Maybe. Sometimes things we've always known to be true turn out to be nonsense.
This is often true when it comes to stories about the hippies and the
left's golden age of the late 60s and early 70s. Take the Kent State
Massacre, when evil fascist National Guardsmen were ordered by
President Nixon to shoot peaceful, joyful hippies merely celebrating
liberty and free love. This event was one of the central events to
galvanizing the nation in opposition to the Vietnam War.
Except as it turns out, that's not how it went down. John Mangles
writes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
A noisy, violent altercation and four pistol shots took place about
70 seconds before Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on antiwar
protesters at Kent State University, according to a new analysis of a
40-year-old audiotape of the event.
The discovery adds new perspective to -- and raises new questions
about -- one of the signature events of the 20th century, after four
decades of spirited discussion and research.
Though the tussle and pistol shots, if authenticated, match some key
details of a confrontation several witnesses reported seeing or
hearing involving a pistol-waving Kent State student named Terry
Norman, they raise many new questions.
So events aren't as clear as people think. But… why were the National
Guard there in the first place? Well Nixon didn't send them, to
begin with. Ohio Governor Rhodes ordered them in, as the National
Guard is under the governors of individual states, not the president.
To understand why the guard was sent to a university, we turn to the
...the shootings at Kent State were preceded by a month of increasing
violence. The "peaceful sit-in" of the ROTC building was violent with
doors kicked in, desks and filing cabinets destroyed, burned or
tossed through windows. ROTC officers and students as well as school
officials were physically attacked.
All this culminated in a riot the night before the shootings in
downtown Kent, that resulted in broken windows, arson, stonings and
beatings that overwhelmed the Kent police force. That pattern of
increasing violence and destruction, not the governor's ideological
opposition to the protesters' support of communist goals, caused the
governor to call out the National Guard. The violence continued the
day of the shootings with rock throwing and shouts of "kill, kill,
kill". The Guardsmen were on edge because of the violence, not the ideology.
These weren't peace-loving, kindly hippies putting flowers in guns
and preaching love and non violence. They were ripping Kent State to
pieces, setting it on fire and shouting violence. They were hardcore
leftist, some of the leaders total communists trying to incite
national revolution. The National Guard shouldn't have opened fire,
but they had a lot more reason than we've been told. That's the myth
that we believed: peaceful, kindly hippie kids were shot for no
reason by fascist monsters, which is absolutely false.
Not all the students were violent troublemakers, but some were, and
governor Rhodes saw the situation getting completely out of
control. Huge protests of hundreds of students took place every day,
and the campus was descending into chaos. The national guardsmen
were sent to try to bring some order, and in the confusion and
tension, things went horribly wrong.
The lesson we should take from all this is not that the guardsmen
were totally without blame, but that both sides were to blame for the
tension and how bad things got, and that we cannot trust the media
for its stories about anything, particularly the fantasies about the
allegedly heroic left's past.