Has Anybody Seen My Old
July 28, 2001
by Jorge Root
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 The wide bell bottoms have been replaced by the hip-hop jeans, the over-the-ankle sneakers are now Air Jordans and the logos on the T-shirts simply say something different.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 event.
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 countries.
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.