Trump Doesn’t Understand Freedom

Almost 50 years ago, something very bad happened in Ohio. The Ohio State National Guard, on orders from the Governor, entered the common grounds of Kent State University and used lethal weapons against students who were protesting the Vietnam War. On May 4, 1970, twenty-eight National Guard soldiers fired approximately 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis. This is the event that motivated the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song, Ohio with its iconic chorus, “Four dead in Ohio.”

The attack on the students came after days of protesting, including the burning of the ROTC building on campus. The protest was triggered by the recently leaked story of the bombing of neutral Cambodia by United States military forces, and its coverup by the Nixon Administration. Ten days later, police in Jackson, Mississippi opened fire on protesting students there, killing two and injuring twelve. I contend that the lethal force used at Jackson State was motivated and justified by the happenings at Kent State.

Now there are student protests happening more than 8,000 miles away from our nation’s capital. The back story will help you to understand this disruption. People have lived on the island of Hong Kong since the stone age, but as the port became more valuable for international trade many players sought control over the land. The Qing dynasty ceded Hong Kong to the British Empire in 1842 through the treaty of Nanjing, which ended the First Opium War. Hong Kong then became a British crown colony. Britain also won the Second Opium War, forcing the Qing Empire to cede Kowloon in 1860, and Britain signed a lease with China, giving them ownership of Hong Kong for 99 years. The Opium Wars were fought by Great Britain to end the trafficking of opium in Hong Kong. It was giant time-out for the Chinese government.

The agreement stated that after 99 years (July 1, 1997), the Brits would give control of the island and port back to China, but the pact included some gradual changes in the transfer. That brings us to the current day. China is now under the total control of President Xi Jinping, the guy Donald Trump keeps saying is a good guy. The power in Peking is slowly enacting laws and policies designed to take more control from the locals and eventually put Hong Kong under control of the Chinese Communist party.

The students in Hong Kong are fighting against the dilution of democracy. President Trump has remained relativity silent on the protesters and he hasn’t stated a position about where America stands regarding Hong Kong’s future. There was a rather limp proclamation that we do not endorse using lethal force against students, but no concrete policy has been stated by the White House or our State Department.

The most movement we’ve seen so far was based on a tweet from the Houston Rockets basketball General Manager who said, “We stand with the protesters in Hong Kong.” That set off a firestorm against the NBA, who first apologized mildly then, a few days later, slightly endorsed freedom of speech. The NBA has more than 500 million TV viewers in China and makes close to a billion dollars on rights and merchandise.

Because of the success of Chinese national Yao Ming, who played in the NBA for years and now runs the Chinese government basketball association, American basketball teams are very popular in China. Fun fact: Yao’s mother and father were the top basketball players in China and rumors had it that they were “urged” by the government of China to marry and produce a basketball player. They made a good one!

This weekend, the Hong Kong protestors blockaded the Polytechnical University and started a fire there. In recent months, they have moved from masks and umbrellas to bows and arrows and Molotov cocktails. The police and military have moved from blockades to tear gas then rubber and real bullets. This surely will end up just like Kent State if someone doesn’t figure out a way to negotiate peace.

It’s hard to get behind the anarchists in these situations, but did the anarchists hijack the protest or did the students progress to violence and destruction of public property because no one is listening?

We don’t know who lit up the ROTC building in Kent, Ohio, but that act of destruction forced the Governor to move troops onto the campus. Most people don’t remember that for several days before moving to the Kent State campus, the troops were in Cleveland dealing with a truckers’ strike. Many hadn’t slept for days and were on edge when they got to the college. Most of the guardsmen were the same age as the protesters. In fact, one of the gunned down ROTC students was headed to Vietnam after graduation.

If Donald Trump was a true leader, he would advise the Chinese government to sit down and talk with the protesting students. In the aftermath of Kent State, many potential confrontations on American college campuses were avoided by listening to what the students had to say, regardless if they were immature and unreasonable. The President of Kent State, the Governor of Ohio and President Nixon were all to blame for the 1970 slaughter at Kent State. Not one person was ever charged in the shootings or the ordering of the shootings at Kent State. There was no justice for the students.

Maybe the next generation of Honk Kong kids want a democracy. And if they don’t get it, China will be forever guilty of denying a democratic state that would make people feel good about themselves. When they disagree with their government, people often protest. When they disagree with their leaders, they challenged them. They might act to get them removed from office and if that fails they may spill blood in the streets. Trump will never back the students, because money, trade and his relationship with Xi are more important to him than human rights. And that is just one more reason why we must get rid of Trump.

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