Anybody Seen My Old Friend Carlo?
July 28, 2001
As I stared at the pictures of Carlo Giuliani laying in
a pool of blood, I couldn't help but wonder about his age.
Scanning down the article showed that he was 23 years old.
Now for sure I would be flashing back, there would be no way
to stop it. May 4, 1970, more pools of blood, more dead, 4
dead to be precise and 9 wounded. Yes, they also were young,
how young? I don't know. Their ages are something I try not
to think about.
That was the scene at Kent State University, 31 years ago
when the Ohio National Guard slaughtered four students and
wounded nine others all in the name of quelling a student
protest. Like Carlo, they died from hi-powered gunfire rattling
through their bodies. Carlo's last breath was squeezed from
his body as the 275/70-16 tires of a paramilitary vehicle
rolled over him, not once, but twice, while he lay helpless
and possibly still alive.
The pictures of Kent State have stuck in my mind all these
years and even though I get older, the pictures never fade,
they never blur, they are always a hearbeat away for instant
recall. Now I can add the pictures from Genoa to this casket
of images. Once again, time has been frozen by a cowardly
act for the sake of 'intolerance of social protest'.
Looking at KSU and Genoa one sees much the same picture.
One can see young people who greatly embodied the spirit of
camaraderie. One sees harmony, fellowship and the kindred
bond of a certain togetherness which only a few of us will
ever experience in our lifetimes. The clothes are different
yet alike. The wide bell bottoms have been replaced by the
hip-hop jeans, the over-the-ankle sneakers are now Air Jordans
and the logos on the T-shirts simply say something different.
The headbands, then, now and always a sign of protest, provide
our link to the vestiges of 70's youth.
Our government and its right-wing media would like for us
to accept their opinion of protesters. They have reduced protesters
to carefree, good-time youths, driven by confusion and dedicated
to anarchy. This allows for a convenient response to why social
protest climaxes with disent, disruption and tragedy. They
will tell us that the protesters brought the bloodshed upon
themselves. Had they not been there, had they not been disobedient
to civil order, none of this would have happened. In other
words "They deserved what they got."
I would much rather be sitting at my favorite fishing hole
or crusing along a back road at sunset, listening to some
Charlie Musselwhite blues than writing this essay. Sadly though,
there is too much still to be said, especially about the blame,
the responsibility, the sense and reasoning for this shameful
We should have learned from KSU that blame is not part of
the right-wing vocabulary. No one was really ever punished
for the Kent State shootings. Clearly the blame should have
gone to President Nixon and Governor Rhodes. The protest at
KSU was, among other things, the result of the broken promises
of Nixon when our troops went into Cambodia. The Ohio National
Guard was the responsibility of Rhodes. Not only did he bring
the ONG on the scene, he brought his best, a special forces-like
bunch known as 'the death squad'.
Neither Nixon nor Rhodes had any love for KSU. They saw the
KSU students as the worst kind of anti-war protesters. Rumors
had it that plans were being made to eradicate them. This
was a perfect opportunity, the KSU students were protesting,
buildings were burning and Rhodes had his elite troops on
site. All the ingredients for tragedy. The rest is history.
The Genoa case presents a slightly different picture in
that someone is being held responsible for the killing of
Carlo. Don't let this fool you. There is plenty more blame
to go around. President Bush and his "we will go it alone"
agenda is where we should be placing the real blame. The perception
that the protest was about globalization is true in the most
general sense but when you search deeper you see the protest
really was about our president, his lock-step agenda and how
it affects other countries, especially the poorer and developing
Protesters at Genoa are being labelled as 'anarchists' and
the media is portraying them as the 'bad guys that got exactly
what they deserved'. This is truly a sad day when our media
can no longer distinguish between right and wrong. Whether
we are talking about KSU, Genoa or any protest, it only seems
reasonable to assume the controlling forces would use whatever
means necessary to maintain the peace. It may require them
to thoroughly overwhelm the crowd to reduce it to submission
or passivity. This approach to crowd control, when done prudently,
is acceptable. Shooting people in COLD BLOOD is not acceptable.
I know that someday the guilty parties will pay. Either
here in the form of a trial and punishment or they will answer
to whomever or whatever they consider their higher power.
It will happen, count on it. Richard Nixon said in his memoirs,
"Those few days after Kent State were among the darkest of
my presidency." Indeed they were dark days as they were the
turning point which put him on a crash course with his real
destiny, resigning from office as a dishonest, defeated and
humiliated president. A timeline of events would include the
Cambodian Invasion, the Wategate break-in, investigations,
trials and eventually his downfall.
And maybe, Just maybe, the Genoa protest will be the dark
day for George Bush, as it should be. Meanwhile, Carlo now
joins Jeffrey, Allison, Bill and Sandy and as usual I will
not try to make sense of why another young life had to be
taken. The best I can do is offer my prayers, and try not
to think of Kent State or Genoa anymore than I have to. Let's
hope some day the whole world will wake up to the fact that
young people were "born to run" and "born to fly like the
eagles". Yes we must not let them run too hard or fly too
high, lest they might hurt themselves. Occasionally we will
have to slow 'em down and bring 'em back to earth. Let's also
hope that we can find a way to do this that does not include
shooting them in cold blood.