Politicians are targeting university campuses for repressive violence.
One of the of the most shocking recent incitements to violence against students came in 2017, when Dan Adamini (Republican), Secretary of the Marquette County Republican Party, advocated using firearms to stop protests on university campuses. Adamini was reacting specifically to the student protest against Milo Yiannopoulos (Breitbart News editor) speaking at the University of California-Berkley.
Adamini tweeted: “Violent protesters who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State perhaps. One bullet stops a lot of thuggery.”
Then, in a Facebook post, Adamini clarified his position: “I’m thinking that another Kent State might be the only solution… They do it because they know there are no consequences yet.”
Kent State University officials responded that Adamini’s comments are “abhorrent.”
The Kent State University statement reads:
“May 4, 1970, was a watershed moment for the country and especially the Kent State University family. We lost four students that day while nine others were wounded and countless others were changed forever. This abhorrent post is in poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still pains the Kent State community today. We invite the person who wrote this statement to tour our campus and our May 4 Visitors Center, which opened four years ago, to gain perspective on what happened 47 years ago and apply its meaning to the future.”
Adamini’s shocking comments seemed to confirm worries that politicians’ anti-student rhetoric would lead to another episode of deadly violence on university campuses.
A Politico article by James Robenalt published during the 2016 Presidential Election Campaign considered the troubling possibility of “another Kent State” resulting from then-candidate Donald Trump’s comments. Robenalt wrote that “Donald Trump is now openly inciting violence at his rallies. In Kansas City, he mouthed the words, ‘I’ll beat the crap out of you,’ when describing what he would have done to a protester who charged him in Dayton, Ohio, earlier in the day. ‘Boom, boom, boom,’ he said, mimicking a schoolyard beat down with his fists.”
Robenalt warned that candidate Trump’s incitements to violence were remarkably similar to President Nixon’s labeling of student protesters as “bums” in 1970, just a few days before National Guard troops gunned down student protesters at Kent State.
The issue of guns on campuses and the references to the 1970 shooting of college students at Kent State have remained in the news over the past several years.
A graduate of Kent State controversially posed for a photo on campus with an AR-10 rifle in May 2018. The Washington Post reported on this incident, which went viral as gun rights activists celebrated “gun girl.”
In September 2018, a “tense” gun rights rally was held on the campus of Kent State.
This story has reemerged recently as other politicians seem to advocate violence on college campuses.
Meanwhile, the School of Peace and Conflict Studies at Kent State University is now preparing a conference on “Commemorating Violent Conflicts and Building Sustainable Peace.”
As a professor at Northern Illinois University, a university that has suffered a mass shooting, I call upon politicians to condemn incitements to violence on university campuses.
Gun violence has no place on college campuses.