I keep hearing, “Why can’t Occupy UC Davis be like those great protests of our past? Like the peace protests? Everyone was behind those students at Kent State.”
A Gallup Poll conducted one week after the Kent State shootings found that 58 percent of the public blamed the students themselves, while only 11 percent blamed the National Guardsmen. Newsweek, May 18, 1970, p. 30. They got what was coming to them.
We also have a very selective memory. Many people mention Kent State, but have you ever heard anyone ever invoke the massacre at Jackson State University, just ten days later, where police indiscriminately barraged a student dormatory, killing two students of color? When creating our glorious narrative of that era of civil disobedience in the name of social justice, how easily we gloss over certain events and emphasize others. We must remember, after the pepper spray wears off and the necessary inconveniences of a protest continue, not to apply the standards of this idealized past to the activists of social conscience of today and tomorrow.
Bernie Goldsmith, Occupier