Mr. Blunt and Cranky grew up during the Vietnam War, and vividly remembers the unrest that occurred during that time, including the speeches, riots, bombings and deaths. He was 12 when Kent State went down, and remembers his father cheering on the National Guard when the evening news reported that unarmed American citizens had been killed and wounded at a small-town Ohio college. Looking back, the answer to the question of “how could this have happened?” has become clearer as history repeats itself ad nauseum.
The root cause of the May 4th deaths was extremist rhetoric and action, aided and abetted by unproven theories used to score political points. For Vietnam, it was the “Domino Theory”, used by the hawks to beat down the doves in the political wars of the 60’s. As the hawks’ rhetoric became more strident, the doves responded in kind (“You dirty commie hippie scum!” – “You filthy baby-killer!”) and both sides wound up hating each other. Not merely disagreeing, but hating. A few reasonable folks tried to calm things down, but nobody much cared to listen to those boring fuddy-duddies.
Onward and upward went the escalating spiral until innocent people got killed, at which time it became clear that things had gone too far, and the wingnuts turned down the burners a bit. Rhetoric and action were reigned in for a time, and a reasonable facsimile of calm ensued. Oh, and that Domino Theory that caused the whole mess? Completely discredited, turned out to have been fatally flawed from the get-go, but that wasn’t emphasized much in the zeitgeist. And all the people who had been killed during the war that served that crap theory (abroad and at home) stayed dead.
However, not everyone really calmed down, and behind the façade of civility plans were made to re-fight the battle so that one side or the other could “win”. In the 80’s, a new unproven theory was introduced called “trickle-down economics”, and like its predecessors it has divided the populace. As before, the rhetoric has been escalating, followed by escalating actions. Disagreement is turning to hatred, and heads are getting broken. A few people are trying to calm things down, but nobody is much listening yet to those boring fuddy-duddies.
Today, 42 years after Kent State, Mr. B & C is wondering how many people are going to get killed this time before the masses realize they are being manipulated and stop listening to the extremists so that calm can be restored. Afterwards, there will be tacit acknowledgements that the loud mouths should have tempered themselves and the theory was fatally flawed from the get-go. None of which will bring the victims back from the grave.
This writer’s wish (not hope, he has become too cynical for that) is that extremists on all sides will turn down the burners a wee bit, and remember the ultimate cost of using theories, actions and rhetorical bombast to gain political advantage.
Mr. B & C