Lessons From Kent State University

For anyone old enough to have lived through the turbulent 1960s and 70s, the Kent State massacre was one of American History’s darkest, most tragic, “where were you when” moments.

For me, that “when” was early evening on this very day, May 4, 1970. That’s when, as a 16-year-young high school sophomore, I first became aware of how 29 American soldiers (members of the Ohio National Guard) had fired off approximately 67 rounds in the short span of one minute (or less) to kill 4 American students and wound 9 others.

That death toll and casualty list had been the end result of a demonstration by Kent State University college students pissed off by President Richard M. Nixon’s escalation of the Vietnam War… i.e., his invasion of neighboring Cambodia. It was during their antiwar rally that things got ugly… protestors wound up setting fire to the campus’ ROTC building and repeatedly pegging rocks at the armed troops.

Basically, what we had here was the troops overreacting… using bullets to defend themselves against stones and assessing a higher value to that charred real estate than to their own compatriots’ precious lives.

It’d be hard not to conclude that the very presence of these troops had needlessly escalated an already overly tense situation. Even Nixon’s own President’s Commission on Campus Unrest concluded (and I concur MOST EMPHATICALLY)

“The indiscriminate firing of rifles into a crowd of students and the deaths that followed were unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable.”

Students suspected of arson and assault could’ve later been arrested, charged, arraigned, tried and, if found guilty, been duly punished. In a situation such as this, troops are NEVER supposed to act in the roles of judges, juries and executioners!

Also worthy of mention is that both warring factions on this Kent State campus battlefield could’ve benefited immensely from the following wisdom.

William Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” character, Fallstaff, said…

“The better part of Valour, is Discretion; in the which better part, I haue saued my life” (oft paraphrased… “Discretion is the better part of valor.”)

Sun Tzu, author of “Art of War” opined along similar lines, thusly…

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting” and “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”

The sagaciousness of some superb song composers also comes to mind…

Check out a couple of lyrical couplets…

From Stephen Stills’ “For What It’s Worth”

“There’s battle lines being drawn,

Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”

From John Lennon/Paul McCartney’s “Revolution”

“But when you talk about destruction…

Don’t you know that you can count me out.”

Were not all of the above wordsmiths emphasizing the need for orderly conduct by all parties involved in any dispute… were they not all on the same page as the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment (note the qualifying word, “peaceably”)?

“Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Fast forwarding to our troubled present-day world… political and social unrest has only grown worse… especially since the installation of #45.

Now, more than ever, all protest movements must always be conducted peaceably. Nobody should ever give that Oval Office entity even the slightest excuse to overreact… to roll out the tanks… to order Americans troops to open fire on American citizens in a way that is equal to… or exceeds the actions taken by the Ohio National Guard in Kent State…

On this very day… May 4, 1970.

 

Four-Play (Week #10) (Pop/Rock Waltzes)

Welcome to my tenth Internet Blogcast… one where we’ll deconstruct music a bit more than I normally do. But… not to worry, my readers / listeners… advanced musicology degrees are not required. Everything will be as easy as repeatedly counting out 1 – 2 – 3… 1 – 2 – 3… 1 – 2 – 3…

Indeed, songs with ¾ time signatures, latter day waltzes, are this week’s Four Play focus.

Again… not to worry… having two left feet on the dance floor will still present no barrier to enjoying these tracks. As one who’s not called a lefty based solely on my politics, trust me when I say, it’s totally cool for us to be tapping our toes while seated on the sidelines.

All kidding aside, it’s intriguing how days of yore ballroom dancers (of the 18th century onward), if they were to materialize into the here and now, could easily waltz to the songs titled: Mr. Bojangles… How Can I Be Sure… Disney Girls… and Manic Depression.

Since these musical masterpieces are all fully capable of speaking for themselves… that’s my cue to shut up and deliver the goods… well… except for my performing some routine, blogcast housekeeping duties…

For starters… the video title to Manic Depression, below, is a link to a more electrified, Karaoke version.

Additionally… while few DJs can please all the people all the time, I do encourage you, my listeners, to be musically adventurous… marching in lockstep is nowhere near as fun as (literally and figuratively) dancing to the beat of a different drummer.

“Still not my ‘cup of tea,’” you say? Not to worry. With 3 more blogcasts still remaining in my blog experiment’s 13 week run… you never can tell what you’ll be hearing seven days from now.

For any of you who may’ve missed past posted programs and/or would like to give ‘em a listen again, everything is neatly archived in my music category.

Blog response will be akin to Arbitron / Nielsen “radio ratings”… so… if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, click that “Like” Star. Of course, comments (as well as song requests) are always welcome, too!

 

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band ~ Mr. Bojangles

Young Rascals ~ How Can I Be Sure

Beach Boys ~ Disney Girls

Diversus Guitar Ensemble ~ Manic Depression (Jimi Hendrix Cover)