I’m still trying to fathom how anyone in a leadership position could possibly send out a tweet and a Facebook post advocating the creation of “another Kent State.”
As you’re probably aware by now, the crude fingers that typed those missives are attached to Dan Adamini, a Republican Party official in Marquette County, Mich., who thinks creating another Kent State would be the solution to protests like the one this month at UC Berkeley that turned violent.
Wrote Adamini: “Violent protesters who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State, perhaps. One bullet stops a lot of thuggery.”
Actually, Danny, it was multiple bullets that killed four unarmed young people and paralyzed a fifth.
Marquette County, population 67,700, is in the north-central part of the Upper Peninsula. It is named after Father Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit missionary who arrived in 1666.
Marquette was a Frenchman assigned by his church to the territory now known as Michigan to spread the Jesuit faith among people now known as American Indians.
I haven’t read any of Marquette’s writings, but I’m pretty sure he would not have been a staunch advocate of killing unarmed human beings to get his way.
Even in this age of over-the-top rhetoric, rooting for a repeat of Kent State is the epitome of insensitivity.
On the other hand, this level of verbal recklessness almost seems like the logical progression of a trend that started about a year and a half ago.
We are growing cruder and cruder by the hour — and, not coincidentally, more and more divided.
I have a friend who, until a couple of weeks ago, was an eager, daily participant on Facebook. But she grew so weary of the relentless political acrimony flooding the site that she deactivated her account.
“Too many people I thought were decent human beings showed their dark sides, and I just can’t deal with it anymore,” she said. “I don’t want to see any more nasty s***. I’m done.”
Around these parts, where the KSU bloodshed is far more than a historical footnote, the awful comment obviously struck a nerve. Kent State President Beverly Warren responded quickly and appropriately, identifying Adamini’s outburst as “abhorrent,” but also inviting the misguided fellow to campus so he could learn something about the events of May 1970.
People who haven’t studied those events probably don’t realize how many factors were in play.
I was about to write that neither side was entirely blameless at Kent State. But there were more than two sides. There were at least three, and that’s where the big problems start.
Just as at Berkeley, at Kent there were not only the students and the authorities but plenty of outsiders intent on raising hell. At the Berkeley protest, about 1,500 students and faculty showed up, some emphasizing their intention to be peaceful by carrying around a big homemade dove. But then 150 outsiders stormed in, wearing masks, and started breaking and burning stuff to the tune of about $100,000 in damage.
The volatile mix of three entities almost guarantees innocent people will suffer. Without rehashing the entire KSU situation yet again, people who don’t really know much about May 4 — say, the knucklehead in Michigan — need to understand some key facts.
First of all, classes were still in session.
One of the students killed, William Schroeder, was an academic standout who was simply walking from one class to another. More than a bit ironically, Schroeder, an Eagle Scout in high school, had earned a scholarship to Kent’s Reserve Officer Training Corps.
He was killed by a shot to the chest from an M-1 rifle.
From 382 feet away.
Another victim was Youngstown native Sandra Scheuer, who also was walking to her next class. She was an honors student in speech therapy. That .30-caliber M-1 bullet tore into her neck.
From 390 feet away.
But, yes, one of the students killed, Jeffrey Miller, had taken an active role in the protest, at one point heaving a tear-gas canister back at a National Guardsman.
As if that warranted the death penalty.
Miller took a shot in the mouth from 265 feet away.
In some circles — circles that seem to be growing larger — those kinds of important distinctions are deemed irrelevant.
Our level of tolerance for people with different viewpoints also seems endangered. Look no further than the Highland Square cobbler who was verbally bashed — one caller threatened to burn down his store — after he put up a window display protesting the recent ban on refugees.
Among the notes he got: “Anyone who [doesn’t support the ban] is anti-American, don’t [sic] care about our safety or is just a plain a**hole.”
Land of the free, home of the nasty.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or email@example.com. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31.