Guest column: Another anniversary: business as usual at Kent State

William A. Gordon

Although I probably know more than anyone else about the historical significance of May 4, I will not be attending tomorrow night’s panel discussion. For the 23rd year since my book on May 4 was published, I have not been invited to share my expertise.

It is almost as if every dunce at the university is in “confederacy against me.” That, of course, was Jonathan Swift’s definition of a genius; but no, I am not a genius, even if the university keeps insisting on defining me as one. I am just the author of the most thorough study of May 4. My book explains why May 4 happened and why no one was held accountable for the multiple crimes committed on the campus.

Even though I will not be flying 2,500 miles on my own dime just to hear all the propaganda for the zillionth time, there is still some unresolved business. I hope someone in the audience will ask these questions tomorrow night:

1. When the Center was being planned, I asked professor Laura Davis if she would display all (now 30) books on the shootings to encourage visitors to learn more. When I visited the Center last fall, I was flabbergasted to find only two books displayed — both co-authored by Davis herself. Attendees should ask Davis if she is deliberately trying to erase me from Kent State’s history, and whether it has to do with the fact I am not a radical. Is erasing people from history what Kent State scholars do? How do her actions differ from outright censorship?

2. Speaking of conflicts of interest, I’d like to know why she invited Oliver Stone to speak. Is she trying to convince him to make a movie about May 4 — one that would undoubtedly transform her friend Alan Canfora from the straw that broke the Guardsmen’s backs into a heroic figure? Stone rewrote history once before in his 1991 film, “JFK.” He turned a reckless and thoroughly discredited prosecutor into a truth-seeking hero, despite the fact that his prosecutions were based on the flimsiest of evidence. At the time, Stone talked about “creating new myths.” Should he not have thought instead about puncturing all the old myths that already exist?

3. Does anyone who visits the Center leave with the feeling that justice was not done? I did not get that impression. What was arguably the most important aspect of May 4 was reduced to a footnote.

4. Finally, is the Center and May 4 itself being used to further a political agenda and to advance the careers of a few selfish professors? If that is the case, it is unfortunately business as usual at Kent State. Fortunately, I have meticulously documented all the behind-the-scenes dirty tricks — and it will all come out soon.

William A. Gordon is a 1973 Kent State graduate and the author of “Four Dead in Ohio: Was There a Conspiracy at Kent State?”