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In Remembrance of the Martyrs of Kent State, They Did Not Die in Vain!
by Steven Argue
Saturday May 4th, 2013 9:16 AM
The martyrs of Kent State and Jackson State didn’t ask to die. Yet, in their sacrifice they helped drive the U.S. imperialists out of Vietnam, ending the slaughter of millions and greatly improving the lives of the Vietnamese people. Likewise, they helped save the lives of American youth from continuing to be sacrificed in a war for corporate profit in Vietnam. The martyrs at Kent State were Jeffrey Miller (age 20), Allison Krause (age 19), William Schroeder (age 19), and Sandra Scheuer (age 20). The martyrs of Jackson State were Phillip Gibbs (age 21) and James Earl Green (age 17 and a student at a nearby high school).
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[Photo: Aftermath of U.S. government's slaughter at Kent State]

In Remembrance of the Martyrs of Kent State, They Did Not Die in Vain!

By STEVEN ARGUE

Forty-three years ago, on May 4, 1970, National Guardsmen at Ohio’s Kent State University opened fire on students protesting the US war in Vietnam. The students were shot in the back from distances of 275 to 400 feet, giving lie to claims that the students posed a threat to the Guardsmen. Four students were murdered and nine were injured. Nobody ever did time for those murders.

Eleven days after Kent State, on May 15, 1970, the U.S. government carried out another slaughter of students, this time at Jackson State University in Mississippi. This was a Black University. Racists in Mississippi were outraged that Blacks were even able to attend University. The students faced regular harassment, and just eight years prior to the Jackson State Massacre the students there were forced to endure a sit-in of white racists who tried to shut the university down. On May 15th, 100 students protesting the U.S. War in Vietnam and the Kent State Massacre occupied Lynch Street. Seventy-five State Troopers attempted to break-up the demonstration, but the students fought back against teargas, nightsticks, and bayonets with rocks and bricks. According to eyewitness, the fighting ceased and the situation had then calmed when suddenly, out of the blue, the State Troopers open fire on the protesters, firing hundreds of shots at the protesters and 460 into nearby dormitories. Two students were murdered and 12 were injured.

Those two massacres by the U.S. government on U.S. soil were the beginning of the end of the U.S. slaughter of the people of Vietnam.

Before May 4th, 1970, an anti-war movement had been building in the United States. Draft-age youth and many others were increasingly impatient with the war, and an active anti-war movement helped build that kind of consciousness. People wanted the war to end, and Nixon kept promising a “light at the end of the tunnel.” On April 30, 1970, people could only see darkness when Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia. This was the opposite of what people wanted to hear. Protests erupted on campuses that had not had them in the past, like Kent State.

Prior to the Kent State massacre there were clashes between the working class youth on campus and the police and the National Guard. Police attempted to beat down the students, but the students fought back. Students also went on to break bank windows and burn down the ROTC center on campus. Ohio’s Governor Rhodes who had just threatened the use of the National Guard against striking teamsters, calling the workers “hoodlums”, sent the National Guard onto the Kent State campus against the anti-war protesters. The day before the Kent State slaughter, Governor Rhodes declared Kent State anti-war protesters to be “the worst type of people we harbor in America, worse than the Brown Shirts and the communist element.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. government was in the process of slaughtering three million people in Vietnam to maintain unpopular U.S. imposed capitalist dictatorships in South Vietnam. American youth were fed-up with being drafted and forced to slaughter innocent people in the name of “democracy”.

Already having faced tear gas and beatings from the National Guard for protesting, on May 4th students were told that all public gatherings on the campus were illegal. Yet, 1,500 students gathered to protest the war anyway, defiantly pumping their fists when ordered to disperse.

Before May 4th, the U.S. government routinely beat protesters demanding an end to the war. Likewise, their FBI infiltrated the movement to spy on, disrupt, and carry out violence against the anti-war movement, Black liberation movement, and other people’s liberation movements. This included on December 4, 1969 the coordinated murder by the FBI and Chicago Police of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. An FBI infiltrator slipped a drug into Fred Hampton’s drink so that he couldn’t wake-up. That same night the Chicago Police broke into Fred Hampton’s home and murdered him in his sleep. Radical Black leadership was being annihilated and all who would consider following in their footsteps were being taught a brutal lesson.

On May 4th 1970, the U.S. government attempted a similar brutal lesson for the anti-war movement. This time it would backfire and fail. For many, the cold blooded murder of students at Kent State and murders of students soon after at Jackson State, were the final straw.

Immediately after the Kent State Massacre, 8 million students went out on strike, ROTC centers were burned to the ground on campuses across the country, and some Universities, such as UC Berkeley, were taken over by students and faculty as anti-war universities. After May 1970, the majority of those drafted were already opposed to the war before they got to Vietnam. This brought an end to the war. The US government could not win the war because they were facing fierce battles from the Vietnamese and many US soldiers were actively resisting the war. Commanding officers were being fragged as they tried to force soldiers to kill people in a foreign land for a war they did not believe in. Nixon could not win a war with drafted soldiers who refused to fight, and this was a factor that forced the U.S. government to withdraw from Vietnam.

The defeat of U.S. imperialism in Vietnam is a good example of how protests can work. Yet a cop recently complained to this author about protesters "always rioting", complained our protests over the many decades have always "accomplished nothing", smugly pointed out that it is the police and government and not us who have the guns, and who said he loved the T-shirt pictured below (of a cop bragging about beating down protesters) and wants to know where to get one. The following was my response.

“In the United States armed police often violently attack people for exercising our rights to free speech, but the propaganda of the corporate media constantly spew their lies, making the victims of police repression look like the criminals. In reality, it is the capitalist police, and not the people, who are the violent criminals.

“Our protests haven't accomplished a thing? Really? Bullshit. Here is a rundown of our top six accomplishments. Accomplishments made despite your police batons and bullets in the streets:

“In the 1934 three major strikes, including two general strikes in San Francisco and Minneapolis, all led by reds and fighting against you cops, forced the U.S. capitalist class to give us the New Deal. The gains we won included Social Security, a minimum wage, a ban on child labor, and programs that provided jobs. It wasn't the socialism many of us were fighting for, but these things were accomplishments.

“In the 1960s there were accomplishments as well. People fought back in the Black ghettos and across the South standing up in the face of police and Klan terror. Far from accomplishing nothing, we forced an end to legalized discrimination against Blacks. It wasn't an abolition of the racist capitalist system or an end to racist police terror, but important advances were made.

“In the 1960's and 1970s people rose up against the U.S. slaughter of the Vietnamese people. By May 1970 so many people were fed-up with the war and government repression that eight million students went out on strike. This didn't immediately stop the war, but afterward the majority of people drafted opposed the war. Soldiers in Vietnam refused to murder for a war they didn't believe in, fighting in a country where they didn't belong. Many commanding officers that try to force them to fight were fragged. This helped bring victory to the Vietnamese people, enabling them to run their country as they saw fit without U.S. mass murder and U.S. imposed dictatorships. Once again, our struggles did accomplish something. The war was ended and our “boys” (and “girls”), the Viet Cong, were victorious. It wasn't an abolition of U.S. imperialism and U.S. imperialist wars, but the liberation of Vietnam and an end to the U.S. slaughter of three million Vietnamese people was still an important victory.

“In addition, spin-offs from the movement against U.S. war in Vietnam included the women's liberation movement, Gay and Lesbian liberation movements, and the environmental movement. The Equal Rights Amendment still has not been passed, but we have made important headway on basic rights and reproductive freedom due to a mass movement that took to the streets. Gays and Lesbians are still officially discriminated against, including not being allowed to marry and have the same legal rights as straight couples, but they are no longer rounded-up by police vice squads with their names published in the newspapers the next day (and being fired from their jobs as a result), and they are no longer locked up and tortured in mental institutions for homosexuality. The planet is also rapidly being destroyed by greedy capitalists through global warming, but we did get some terrible things like DDT banned and the heightened awareness of earlier movements at least puts us one step closer to possibly rising up and doing something about global warming.

“So as you can see, our work, and our protests, may not have yet brought on the revolution many of us seek, but you are either very naive or lying if you think that our protests have accomplished nothing. After all, if we were accomplishing nothing, why would those who own this country send you pigs out to bust our heads so often when we are simply exercising our legal right to protest. Your bosses are scared of the people; that’s why they send you thugs out against us. We will continue our struggle, always reminded that your anger and disapproval are signs that we are doing something right. -Steven Argue of the Revolutionary Tendency”

The martyrs of Kent State and Jackson State didn’t ask to die. Yet, in their sacrifice they helped drive the U.S. imperialists out of Vietnam, ending the slaughter of millions and greatly improving the lives of the Vietnamese people. Likewise, they helped save the lives of American youth from continuing to be sacrificed in a war for corporate profit in Vietnam. The martyrs at Kent State were Jeffrey Miller (age 20), Allison Krause (age 19), William Schroeder (age 19), and Sandra Scheuer (age 20). The martyrs of Jackson State were Phillip Gibbs (age 21) and James Earl Green (age 17 and a student at a nearby high school).

Since the people’s victory in Vietnam, the world has suffered new Vietnams at the hands of U.S. imperialism. These include the U.S. war against the people of Iraq (1990-to present). This has been both a shooting war and a war of economic sanctions that has left nearly two million Iraqis dead. The U.S. war and occupation of Iraq continues with the brutal and corrupt U.S. imposed puppet governments in the central government as well as in Kurdish Iraq; Continued presence of U.S. troops and thousands of mercenaries (euphemistically called “private contractors”) paid for through U.S. tax dollars; and the continued profiteering of imperialist corporations that profit from the invasion, privatization, and corruption of the puppet governments.

Despite official propaganda, Obama continued that war against the Iraqi people when he came into office and he continues it to this day. Likewise, the Obama administration has troops fighting to prop-up the death squad governments of the Philippines and Colombia and troops fighting to prop-up the corrupt and anti-woman Karzai government in Afghanistan. Obama has also been involved in supporting coups that have overthrown the democratically elected governments of Honduras, the Maldives, and Paraguay. Obama was involved in giving military support for the overthrow of the government of Libya to impose a racist government that has carried out ethnic cleansing of Black Africans, but is friendlier to imperialist looting of oil resources. In Syria, Obama is presently giving military backing to similar murderously chauvinistic Muslim Brotherhood forces that are anti-Kurd, anti-Alawite, and anti-Christian. And, of course, U.S. imperialism continues to prop up many of the worst dictatorships in the world, including in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain while also giving billions of dollars every year in military aid to the murderously chauvinistic government of Israel. Obama has vowed to increase U.S. military aid to Israel. And anywhere people are Muslim and brown, Obama freely sends out drones to murder the entire families of people put on kill lists in extrajudicial executions.

U.S. imperialism is a system, not just the policy of one or another ruler “elected” under America’s undemocratic system which only allows candidates with massive capitalist backing to win. It is a system designed to defend and extend U.S. capitalist investments around the world, murdering anyone who gets in the way if they can get away with it. This system can only be abolished through smashing the capitalist state and the overthrow of the capitalist profit system in a proletarian revolution. The Revolutionary Tendency is committed to this goal of proletarian revolution. Join us.

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To join discussion of the Revolutionary Tendency (no longer part of the SP) check us out on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/steven.argue.1?ref=tn_tnmn#!/groups/RevolutionaryTendency/

Also by this author see:

End U.S. Support for the Death Squad Government of the Philippines!
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/03/12/18733511.php

End U.S. Imperialist Attacks on Liberated Syrian Kurdistan!
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/03/03/18733059.php

Afghanistan: Misogynistic Hell Hole Made in the U.S.A.
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/07/16/18717635.php

Why The Russian Revolution is Still Important
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/03/18708611.php