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40 Years after Kent State: The Shredding of Constitutional Liberty Still Goes On

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Again and again, we learn that war abroad will find a way home.

On 30 April 1970, Richard Nixon announced the US invasion of Cambodia, a sovereign nation the US had been secretly bombing for several months. It was a saturation campaign involving 120 strikes a day by B-52s carrying up to 60,000 pounds of bombs each. But in the common doublespeak of war, the president claimed: "This is not an invasion of Cambodia   once enemy forces are driven out of these sanctuaries and once their military supplies are destroyed, we will withdraw".

Nixon's aggression against Cambodia was accompanied by a verbal assault on those inside the US opposing the war: "we live in an age of anarchy, both abroad and at home," he intoned. The next day, Nixon went to the Pentagon to clarify the point: "you see these bums   blowing up the campuses   burning up the books, I mean storming around about this issue   you name it, get rid of the war, there'll be another one".

On the rolling spring lawns of Kent State in the American heartland, students continued to press against an illegal, immoral war of occupation. The first entering classes of black students formed themselves into what was to become a growing wave of black student unions. Returning veterans were throwing their medals back at the war-mongers, and themselves becoming students.

Two days after the official invasion of Cambodia, 900 national guardsmen amassed on the Kent State campus. M-1 rifles were raised, and within 13 seconds, 61 shots were fired on unarmed students - four were dead, nine wounded. It was, the official presidential commission on campus unrest later found, "a nation driven to use the weapons of war upon its youth".