Sunday, May 2, 2010

* "Massacre" at last

Tonight's CBS Evening News had a segment on the 40th anniversary of what they called the "Kent State Massacre".

This took me by surprise, as one who was there that day (May 4, 1970) and saw the bloodshed 40 years ago.

Yes, it was a massacre. Actually, "slaughter" might be more accurate.

However,as I have written before on this blog, from the instant after that slaughter, both Kent State administrators and unwitting journalists became accomplices in what I call "the euphemization of murder". In the adminsitrators case, the euphemization was premeditated.

At first is was the "Kent State killings". Then it was the "Kent State tragedy". Then it became the "Kent State Incident" which resulted in "the deaths" of four students, as if the students simply expired without the intervention of an outside agent: killers, in law enforcement uniforms. Finally, it became "the Kent State affair" or just "Kent State".

The slaughter had shattered the national fantasy: All is well in white America, especially at its privileged ivy fiefdoms: the castles known as college campuses.

The iconic photo of Jeffrey Miller lying face down with a river of blood oozing down
the asphalt altar of Kent State's Taylor Hall parking lot, with the screaming madonna on her knees at his side, arms upraised in despair, ended forever white people's fantasy that police brutality happened to others, and not to them.

Immediately, the guilty put up a smoke-screen to cover the slaughter: there was a sniper; the kids had charged with such viciousness, and even continued charging after the shootings, that the gunfire was justified; the students killed were such filthy hippie radicals that they were covered with lice when their bodies were brought to the hospital. All lies.

The FBI scoured every dorm room at Kent State (approximately 18, 000 live-in students, if I recall correctly) without search warrants hoping to amass evidence of a revolutionary plot.

I was a graduate counselor in Manchester Hall and my R.A.'s
rock and hammer collection (he was geology student) was confiscated and put on display with other students' articles, by the local Portage County grand jury as evidence that students were engaged in a violent plot, amassing rocks to throw at Guardsmen.

Massacre. Slaughter. (Not self-defensse. Panic? Perhaps.)

Why does it take 40 years to hear those words?

One historian at Gettysburg College's Civil War Institute, which I attended for five summers 1998-2003, told me that "it takes forty years after an event before a historian can even begin to do his work."

Agendas die hard.

Students die easy.

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