Monday, May 04, 2009

Kent State 39 Years Later

Today is the anniversary of the Kent State Shootings. A moment of silence please for the "four dead in Ohio".

Okay, so what have we learned in 39 years? Well, I guess since we haven't had any campus massacres at the hands of the uniformed minions of the rich (aka the National Guard) in a long time, we've learned either that protesting the government can get you killed so don't do it, or that college students have turned so conservative that the only thing they'd be willing to protest would be a ten-cent increase in the price of lattés in the student union.

Okay, I'm kidding -- I know that students still protest. I live in a town whose resident four-year institution (The Evergreen State College) is a hotbed of radicalism and student activism. But is my perspective on the current state of the college-age generation skewed by this next-door association? I don't know.

But I do know that we have not, for the most part, seen the kinds of demonstrations against the Iraq War Illegal Occupation that we saw against the Vietnam War, especially in that spring of 1970 when Tricky Dick announced the expansion of the war into Cambodia (which, historical aside, pretty much turned his vaunted "domino theory" into a self-fulfilling prophecy and ultimately led to the rise of the genocidal sociopath Pol Pot, who we supported because he was the sworn enemy of our enemy, the Vietnamese... what a fucked-up world it was in the early 70s -- is it any wonder that so many of us turned to drugs?).

Okay, back on topic: We don't see those kinds of campus uprisings because, I believe, none of today's college students has "skin in the game" -- in other words, back in 1970 everybody knew someone -- friend, relative, drinking buddy, former roommate, etc -- who was either in Vietnam or had been there. And it didn't take much of an imagination to figure out that if the fucking war went on long enough for you to graduate, you'd eventually be there as well.

That potential doom doesn't hang over the heads of the current generation of college students. We no longer have a military draft, and by far the first-enlistment military ranks are made up of the young, the uneducated, the immature and the naive, but primarily the poor, who see the military as a last resort to pull themselves out of Walmart wage-slavery and get a chance to go to college.

I have no idea if, when they get to college, they will study the Kent State Shootings, nor do I know what their reactions to it will be. Most of them weren't alive in 1970, so the shootings will be as ancient to them as the Peloponesian War, so I don't hold out a lot of hope that the lessons of Kent State will have any relevance to them. Probably not even those students who find themselves attending Kent State...

"Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it"... -- George Santayana


Anonymous said...

Glad I found your blog. I love reading material at both ends of the political spectrum. Farnsworth, you are somewhat unique in that I've not seen many left of center Vietnam vet bloggers. Although my politics are a bit to the right of yours, I'll agree with the assessment that today's college students are less active because they have "no skin in the game".

I read the first 35 pages of your book online and commend you for your survival and service. As an Army veteran I could relate to your description of friction between "no clue"lifers and all the rest of us.


Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks, anon. I hope you'll be back.
--The F Man