27.3.05

SUPERINTENDENT'S NOTE: I'm moving this post forward from its original position at 3 pm on 24 March 2005 as I have made a few additions to the content and the commentary. I would encourage younger readers in particular to be alert to the potential downside of the "protest babe" phenomenon. There was no Internet in 1970, and no blogosphere in 1989.

Savor the protests if you must, but don't read too much into them, or be disappointed if things turn out differently than you anticipated.

ARE THE TIMES CHANGING? It's been Instalanched, but pay Publius Pundit a visit and reflect on Robert's observation:

Those riot police kind of lose their ferocity after receiving bouquets from pretty revolution babes!
Then read this.

O: Doesn't your division have target practice next week, Meyers?
M: Yes, sir.
O: Are you going there with that silly flower?
M: No, sir.
O: Then what is it doing in your rifle barrel?
M: It was a gift, sir.
O: Do you always accept gifts Meyers?
M: No, sir.
O:Then why did you accept this one?
No answer
O: (Holding out his hand) What are you going to do with it Meyers?
Meyers feebly began to remove the lilac
O: That's better Meyers. Now straighten up and start acting like a soldier and forget all this peace stuff.
Was that 35 years ago? The guns are still loaded ...

SECOND SECTION: The picture I'm looking for from that day is proving somewhat elusive, but I'm not known to be persistent for nothing. For now, a memorial.




RUNNING EXTRAI have not been able to locate, online, the image that I was looking for. James Michener's Kent State: What Happened and Why makes reference to a photograph taken on May 3, 1970, by Kent State Student Ramesh Garg, that contemporary readers would recognize as a "protest babe" picture. There is a picture of the Guardsman with the flower in his rifle in the book, sorry for the grainy image.




The caption: Guardsman Meyers, his rifle containing the flower given him
by Allison Krause, flashes peace sign.

My perception of domestic attitudes is that there was much more polarization in the United States 35 years ago than there is today. (In fact, much of today's polarization is a reflection of those arguments from 35 years ago, but many of the most vocal actors of those days are dead or have mellowed.) That might be something to keep in mind in Lebanon and the 'stans. Many people there still retain a stake in the existing order (consider that Hezbollah counter-demonstration a few weeks ago.)

And the history from Kent State on ought to give pause. Although Richard Nixon was re-elected on a promise of "peace with honor" in Vietnam only to resign, as did his Vice-President Spiro Agnew, those resignations were over stupid acts of corruption, not over high principles of policy. That administration's more hard line positions against Communism became President Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech which leads to President Bush's "freedom" speeches. The "protest babes" of the 1970s did not win the argument of the 1980s.

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