In a season of political turmoil and social unrest, many Americans are moved to protest. They move out into public spaces and exercise their First Amendment Constitutional Rights to say what they have to say and demonstrate against a government they feel is failing in its duty to serve the people. The act of protesting is every bit as much an expression of American pride and citizenship as it is to take up arms in defense of the stars and stripes against a foreign enemy. In some ways it is even more American because nobody can be drafted into a protest by force of law.
But oftentimes law enforcement doesn’t see it that way. Too often, law enforcement officers do not see a protest as their fellow countrymen demanding that its nation live up to promises unkept. Too often, they see enemies of the state and they act accordingly. If you listen to any talk radio on any given day, you can see that our culture is barreling in that direction at a high rate of speed and we may not be able to turn around. Violence breaks out at protests and it can be hard to imagine where cooler heads can prevail. Especially when the hotheads are operating with the imprimatur of the government.
This was the case on this day in 1970. On May 4, 1970 4 students at Kent State University in Ohio were gunned down by overzealous National Guardsmen eager to “restore order” on the campus and show those loudmouthed hippies who was in charge. Besides the 4 students who lost their lives, another student was paralyzed and 5 more were seriously wounded. And no National Guardsmen was ever charged with a crime.
Nixon had bragged about being a “law and order president.” Nixon was deeply unpopular, unhinged, and was in the midst of foreign policy adventurism that was under heavy media scrutiny. In sum, he was Trump before Trump. That is why this all sounds frighteningly familiar to everyone who pays any attention to the wild ride we are witnessing that is known as the Trump Presidency.
The establishment was sick and tired of protesters then and it is sick and tired of protesters now- both the uniformed establishment and those that see themselves as appointed representatives and protectors thereof. So we need to dig where we are in our nation right now. History rarely actually repeats itself, but it often rhymes and echos loudly. And the sound of government gunfire aimed at its citizens is one we never want to hear again. It is happening now, everybody. We need to see it, recognize it and get in front of it before it takes us down that dark path again.