We do not learn. It’s as if the past never happened. As if the millions of lives lost in war after war after war are all forgotten. And when people in the moment rise up and protest more of the same, they get shot down.
Forty years ago today, four innocent students were gunned down by the National Guard at Kent State in Ohio. Nixon had announced an expansion of the war into Cambodia a few days before, and protests ensued across the country. On May 4th, 1970, the war came home to America. Guardsmen on the Kent State campus fired more than 60 shots, wounding thirteen students and killing four. That sparked nation-wide outrage and the largest antiwar protests to date.
We do not learn. We give endless coverage to tax protesters, and next to none for antiwar rallies. We have a population caught up in a furious debate about health care while two wars are raging overseas and America falls deeper and deeper into the highest levels of income and wealth inequality among all industrialized nations.
Today should be a reminder of what this nation has already been through, what it keeps forgetting, and why we should never go to war again unless there is irrefutable evidence that we have no other choice. Unless we can be absolutely sure of the necessity of war, we can not enter into the killing fields again.
We never should have gone into Vietnam. Three million Vietnamese died as a result, along with 58,000 Americans. And we shouldn’t be in Iraq or Afghanistan now. Too many people — hundreds of thousands if not more — have died since America invaded.
There are few things more absurd than war. There are few things on this earth as evil, ugly or senseless. And since virtually no one but the owners of the military industrial complex ever benefits from war, why do we continue to accept them? Why do we continue to support them? Why do we continue to voluntarily die in them?