The 1970 Kent State massacre underlines the danger of overgrown police and miliary functions
We have tragedies waiting to happen when putting a gun into the hands of inexperienced soldiers and police, and often even when doing so with more experienced soldiers and police. Yet, our nation is more overmilitarized and overpoliced than ever. The land of the free and home of the brave? The greatest nation and government in the world despite its faults? We can and must do much better in reining in America’s overgrown military and police system.
1970 at Kent State University gave us the wakeup call we needed to rein in military and police power. On May 4, 1970, National Guardsmen massacred four students during an antiwar protest. The event led to student actions across the nation against the massacre.
Kent State is but one of countless examples of abuse of America’s own citizens by the government’s security and law enforcement apparatus. Those who blindly give the benefit of the doubt to the actions of soldiers and police — on the basis of their sacrificing themselves and lives — are disserving themselves, society, and the very soldiers and police they honor.
I was seven years old when the Kent State massacre took place. The tragedy led Neil Young to pen "Ohio". It led now-spiritual leader Lama Surya Das — whose friend Allison Crouse was among the massacre victims — to the path of being peace, rather than merely anti-violence and anti-war.
Certainly, the Kent State massacre and Richard Nixon’s abuses of power are among the many factors that led me on the path of obsession over protecting civil liberties, and insisting on constant vigilance against governmental abuse of power.