Sunday, May 04, 2008



My friend Thrasher runs the world's best Neil Young fan site. Since today is the anniversary of the Kent State shootings, he decided to ponder the question of why students today aren't protesting the Iraq war. Is it because there is no draft? Or is it because they're afraid that Bush will have them murdered the same way Nixon did?


-by Thrasher

Is this why today's students don't protest the Iraq war?

On Monday, May 4, 1970 at 12:24 PM, twenty-eight Ohio National Guardsmen began shooting into a crowd of student anti-war protesters at Kent State University. In thirteen seconds, the guardsmen had fired sixty-seven rounds and four students lay dead.

Immediately after the Kent State shooting (sometimes referred to as the "Kent State Massacre"), Neil Young composed the song "Ohio" after looking at photos appearing in Life magazine. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young went to the studio and recorded the song which was released to radio stations shortly after the killings. Soon, the lyrics "Four dead in Ohio" became an anthem to a generation.

In the liner notes of the Decade album, Neil wrote:
"It's still hard to believe I had to write this song. It's ironic that I capitalized on the death of these American students. Probably the most important lesson ever learned at an American place of learning. David Crosby cried after this take."

The Four Dead in Ohio

Allison Krause - Age: 19, 110 Yards
William Schroeder - Age: 19, 130 Yards
Jeffrey Miller - Age: 20, 90 Yards
Sandra Scheuer - Age: 20, 130 Yards

The four killed and nine wounded were all full-time students.

Over the years, Thrasher's Wheat has received more mail and comments on this song than almost any other Young song. Comments like this from Jodi:
"I just would like to say that I am a 23 old student and I am doing a speech on CSNY during the protest era, mainly the song 'Ohio'. I would have to say that this song has touched me and it has become one of my favorite songs. It is tragic what happened to the students, especially when I read two of those who died were just walking to their next class. This song puts me in a time I was never in and I appreciate the music as well as the students."

Students and National Guard Clash at Kent State, Ohio

The events of May 4, 1970 have been extensively detailed since that day and there still remain many unresolved inconsistencies surrounding the activities of the Guardsmen and students.
"Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago."

Jimmy McDonough writes in the Neil Young biography Shakey about the song "Ohio": "In ten lines, Young captured the fear, frustration and anger felt by the youth across the country and set it to a lumbering D-modal death march that hammered home the dread."

"Tin Soldiers" & President Nixon

Crosby once said that Young calling Nixon's name out in the lyrics was 'the bravest thing I ever heard.' Crosby noted that at the time, it seemed like those who stood up to Nixon, like those at Kent State, were shot. Neil Young did not seemed scared at all.

When asked about releasing the song "Ohio", Graham Nash respnded:
"Four young men and women had their lives taken from them while lawfully protesting this outrageous government action. We are going back to keep awareness alive in the minds of all students, not only in America, but worldwide…to be vigilant and ready to stand and be counted… and to make sure that the powers of the politicians do not take precedent over the right of lawful protest."

A video collage of still images commemorating the 36th Anniversary of the killing of four college students by National Guardsman at Kent State in 1970

Start and end sequence of a 1 hour documentary special by Germany's WDR-TV. Coverage originating from major U.S. networks. TV Teams of NBC, ABC and CBS had been present.

YouTube video- In 1970, in response to Nixon's widening of the Vietnam War into Cambodia, students throughout the US protested. Nixon sent the National Guard to restore order to the Kent State campus. The resulting consequences changed the course of the war.

Student video project of the Kent State Massacre May 4, 1970.

"Ohio" music video.

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At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Concerning contemporary civil disobedience:

The youth do protest today. In the beginning of the Iraq War, there were some huge protests. My dad marched with me on Washington and told me it reminded him of May Day. In the late nineties, there were some pretty significant anti-globalization protests. There are tons of small - but often effective - protests in the environmental movement, and a huge, annual protest at the School of the Americas. When I was in college, there was a wave of succesful living wage campaigns on college campuses, including mine.

But I would suggest two reasons we don't protest as often - or as big - as our parents: First, I'd imagine we're more cynical than the boomers were.

Second, the mainstream media these days ensures that even the most succesful protests get little air-time. It always vastly underestimates the numbers, and brands the entire event by focusing entirely on the most extremist, least sympathetic factions. In college, I saw this happen in every large-scale protest in which I ever participated. This lack of coverage contributed to the perception that we don't protest, which perhaps ultimately became a self-fulfilling prophesy. Given the futility of our protests, I for one stopped protesting in the old-fashioned way and started blogging.

Maybe we just weren't doing it right, but civil disobedience, like democracy, doesn't work without a functioning press.

Of course, I'd be open to suggestions from the veterans of the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam movement. But, to no baby boomer in particular, I have to ask, why aren't you on the streets again? Or are you?

At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh my, am i a baby boomer. been doing this since vietnam. 5 years ago, i was marching, and wondering the opposite.,..where were the college kids? Seems most of us out there were the ageing baby boomers who knew how to do it and wondered why we were without the company of the younger generation. I had an aging basset hound who walked the intersections with me 5 years ago...someone observed "wow, she looks really old." "yeah," i replied, "she recalls doing this for Vietnam. too.". Is it the draft? Is it the apathy and the realistic cynicism that we didn't have? I don't know. But, if democracy is to prevail, we gotta get out there in every way that we can imagine. Media can't be relied on.

At 12:18 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm 54...I'm out there.

"We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. ... We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!"
Molly Ivins

At 5:21 AM, Blogger Kevin Baker said...

I just got home from the 38th Commemoration, vigil, and march at Kent. I have to say that I was very disappointed in the turnout. On a huge college campus, I would guess there were no more than 75 Kent State students. Most of the event was filled with boomers like my father and their kids. I don't think fear of being shot is why there aren't more kids protesting these days. I think it has a lot to do with the lack of a draft. When I was in college we protested the start of the Iraq war, but there was little passion at the protest. College students, like most people, need something to jump start them and get them interested and make them feel invested...unfortunately, I don't see it happening without a draft.

At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do the youth no longer protest the fascist takeover of America and the world? Because they don't know about it. They are the TV generation, brainwashed through and through. It all began with the Powell Memo: Please study it and especially look at the part where it instructs how to take over the college system in America:

At 7:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the "youth" are much smarter than you give us credit for, anonymous. And not nearly as apathetic. After all, we're the internet generation, not the tv generation - that was the Reaganites.

And to add to my earlier comment, when the media distorts every protest by focusing on the most extremist factions, not only does the message never get out - it backfires. The whole cause seems marginal and silly and seemingly consisting of lots of people with too much time on their hands. Its not that I'm against protesting - but I don't think its as effective as it used to be. We need to make protesting effective again, rather than just do it to make us feel good.

At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long Live the Students!

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

It's rather simple as to why students don't protest today: There isn't a DRAFT!

The lack of a draft causes other problems: to long of a rotation of combat troops. Fatique!

I wish W would have instituted the draft...the war would have been protested.

At 9:25 AM, Anonymous RNB said...

You knuckleheads are so busy looking for a conservative under every bed that you've missed the big picture.

Fascism, or something very like it, HAS come to America. It has been imposed by the Democratic Party, with Barack Obama as Il Duce. Or der Fuehrer, if that's the sort of fascism you prefer.

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People...young, old...just don't care about anything other then themselves and their own lives.We have an entire generation of people videoing themselves and uploading it onto the internet.

As long as someone else is provided to go die or get a limb blown off...why should anybody care. The irony is a generation ago the government sent the National Guard to combat against the American people. Now the government is sending them into combat against people in other why care?

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The greatest injustice that a society con become afflicted by is intolerance
That in my opinion is the cause for the declining concerns of the people
Consider those who's voices are herd
Those who have become aware of the important resonsability that extends to any peoples
Of any cultures
We of a democratic society and all others
This responsebility I speak of is to speek out
And to keep the actions of all the peoples adjasent to the conducts becomeing those who speak for us

In regards to the draft and concerning all others in thier likeness a great injustic has ocuerd
People beliving that their lives are iof greater value than all others and then deciding for them to decrease their standard of liveing
Thier is nothing in my opinion of less nobility than to fight - in promotion and act than
Those of war

It takes a person with heart to realize this
And that's were it lies

For many reasons people have become seperated from the natures of their good hearts
What remains is a cold empty husk
Be them of good word quality or not

A fue quotes

War is hell (from vietnam photo)

When your going through hell keep going
(One of the kings)** father-jr

And many more theas people had a conection to something great and spoke out
Not just because they had to but that's a bif part of it
It could also be the only

Thier will be always great angwish for man untill he has set aside or descarded the lower leveled thinking
One of theas is war

It will never do anyone any good
Only in its absince

People today like people of yesterday and this will be the same for the people of tomorow
If we continue to revier people how dont deserve it fir reasons that should not be promoted

We will continue to embase what will inevetably destroy us

We have not the option to destroy ourselves
Lets not give up today or tomorow and let us not forget our past

It seems to be our most transferable time to date


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