Napa Valley Register’s got a slanted Captain Comics column by Andrew Smith reviewing some new graphic novels, the first being one about the killings of 4 students at Kent State riots in 1970, written by John Backderf, which the dreadful columnist’s exploiting as a means to supposedly reflect today’s politically charged horizon:
Backderf made a name for himself with “My Friend Dahmer,” a graphic novel that was part memoir, as Backderf actually knew the future serial killer as a teenager. I confess I haven’t read it.
Why do I have a feeling it wouldn’t be worth reading anyway?
I also confess that I’m not especially fond of Backderf’s art style, which reminds me strongly of several underground cartoonists from the ‘60s (but not the famous ones). It’s serviceable but simplistic.
But, boy howdy, does he make up for it with research. This book is amazingly detailed and informative. Which is what makes it all the more horrifying.
Most of us know the basic outlines of the events of May 4, 1970, at Kent State University in northeast Ohio. Heck, all you have to do is listen to the famous Crosby, Stills Nash and Young song, “Four Dead in Ohio,” to get the gist: Ohio National Guard troops opened fire on unarmed students protesting the Vietnam War, killing four.
But there’s a lot more to the story, and Backderf tells it. He finds every interview, every news story, every autopsy report. He takes you into the lives of various students and Guardsmen days before the event, allowing you to get to know each one personally.
Which makes it all the more horrific when some of the people you’ve come to know are killed or badly wounded. You even feel a little sympathy for some of the Guardsmen, not all of whom were gung ho.
But you know, a bunch of ‘em were. Sure, the protesters weren’t all angels. They did burn down the ROTC building. They committed acts of vandalism. They threw rocks. They flipped the bird to the troops and called them names.
For which four of them got the death penalty, and several others were crippled for life. This is called an “overreaction,” which is pretty much how to describe the behavior of the authorities, including those of the university, throughout. Before the shootings, students (whether protesting or not) were tear-gassed, beaten with clubs and bayonetted.
Then came the shootings. The Guardsmen were armed with the M-1 Garand, firing a .30-caliber, inch-long, copper-jacketed bullet that “can go clean through a foot-thick tree stump or through four men standing in a row … and kill them all.” When the Guardsmen were ordered to “lock and load” — chambering a round that can be fired instantly when the trigger is pulled — something bad was pretty much guaranteed to happen.
And when it did, it wasn’t just the four made famous by the song who suffered. The high-powered weaponry tore off body parts from unsuspecting students going to class or to lunch two and three football fields away. The Guardsman opened fire indiscriminately into the campus of a large university — of course it was utter carnage.
And the result, when it was over, was that the students were blamed. Sound familiar? Some of the most shocking material comes after the shooting, as Backderf describes authorities covering up their mistakes, one captain planting a pistol on a dead student and the entire student body marched out of town — by armed townsfolk.
So I led with the minor quibbles I had with “Kent State.” Because I wanted to finish with a crescendo, describing what a powerful, effective and affecting work it is. It speaks directly to today, with victims once again being blamed for their own deaths and authorities painting protest as violent when it’s not.
It appears the above piece was written without taking into consideration the following history news from the Washington Times from 2010, which for a decade now, has made new discoveries about what went on at the university that the author of this new graphic novel didn’t bother to look for:
Previously undisclosed FBI documents suggest that the Kent State antiwar protests were more meticulously planned than originally thought and that one or more gunshots may have been fired at embattled Ohio National Guardsmen before their killings of four students and woundings of at least nine others on that searing day in May 1970.
As the nation marks the 40th anniversary of the Kent State antiwar protests Tuesday, a review of hundreds of previously unpublished investigative reports sheds a new — and very different — light on the tragic episode. […]
Yet the declassified FBI files show the FBI already had developed credible evidence suggesting that there was indeed a sniper and that one or more shots may have been fired at the guardsmen first.
Rumors of a sniper had circulated for at least a day before the fatal confrontation, the documents show. And a memorandum sent to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover on May 19, 1970, referred to bullet holes found in a tree and a statue — evidence, the report stated, that “indicated that at least two shots had been fired at the National Guard.”
Another interviewee told agents that a guardsman had spoken of “a confirmed report of a sniper.”
Why does it not shock me that any rioter at that location could’ve obtained a firearm? And why doesn’t shock me if Backderf didn’t take note of this either, and faked the claim of a police official “planting” evidence instead of finding it? Or that Smith would downplay the violence regardless? Point: rocks can kill if aimed well and hard enough, and fire from an arson attack can do the same, if anybody’s unfortunate enough to be inside the burning building. A few years ago, an Ohio woman was brain damaged by rocks thrown at her car by 4 teen hoodlums. And in May this year, an Israeli soldier, despite wearing a helmet, was murdered by a rock thrown by a jihadist from a building at an angle. One of the most offensive things about Smith’s distortions is how he’s parroting the leftist narrative of “mostly peaceful protests” used currently in the MSM to describe post-George Floyd riots, to the point where violence is dangerously sugarcoated. His approach reeks of Antifa propaganda to boot, with the worst part being that, even as he admitted the alleged students at Kent committed wrongdoing, he implied the police were the foremost ones to blame, and acted worse in every way. Simply vile.