Kent State is a school that reflects mainstream sentiments in American life, and thus serves as a symbol of the pathology of the larger culture. This pathology may be understood in terms of institutions and processes out of scale and out of control. One sees at Kent State the difficulty any big institution has in responding humanely to change and crisis.
Both David Sanford in The New Republic and I. F. Stone in his biweekly have done good work in describing the situation at Kent, and high marks should go as well to the Akron Beacon-Journal (a Republican newspaper) for its honest and tough reporting. One must note as well the immense usefulness of the FBI report on the shootings, without which the struggle for public understanding would be impossible. Both Sanford and Stone, however, have interpreted the events at Kent as having a more explicitly “political” character than I, as a local observer, judge to be warranted. They make the same errors as that of our grand jurors, who also see Kent State in terms of differing life-styles, value systems, and commitments to flag and country. My argument, by contrast, is that the underlying causal factors at Kent State are more diffuse and apolitical th...
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