Devo bassist recalls campus shooting

Lydia Coutré

Casale: America lacks critical thinking skills

Gerald Casale, the bassist for Kent-rooted band Devo, recounted his experience during May 4, 1970 as one of the students “in the thick of it.”

Casale was not injured, but was standing closer to the Ohio National Guardsmen than Allison Krause and Jeff Miller, who were both shot and killed.

“That day in May was the single most traumatic moment in my entire life,” Casale said.

He said it changed his worldview and opened his eyes.

“That’s why I’m here today to try to dispense a small kernel of justice by giving personal testament to the significance of the deaths that occurred here 40 years ago,” Casale said.

He told the crowd to never forget why students had gathered on the Commons that day.

“We were there because there was a collective sense that in our country, things were turning inside out,” he said.

Casale said to him, it feels like today’s apathy is replacing activism at a time when “almost each erosion of freedom and fair play that we in the ‘60s counterculture warned about has come to pass.”

He said the notion that students today would get upset over the government’s corruption seems “almost cute.”

“Today it seems that most lack the critical thinking framework to even draw any conclusions, to even know why to be upset enough to protest about some action or policy that might affect them for generations to come,” he said.

He said students don’t get upset about politics, “but they do get upset about Best Buy running out of the Xbox 360.”

He criticized what people pay attention to and worry about, citing the popularity of last year’s “Octomom” story.

“Devolution is real unfortunately,” Casale said. “We’ve been marching backward full speed ahead.”

Casale warned that as hard as it is to imagine, what happened in 1970 is not in “some historical lock box.”

“It can and will happen in one way or another again and again,” Casale said. “Unfortunately I say, imagine it. Understand it. Understand why. Be ready for it, or you’ll be swallowed in the quick sand of history.”

Contact news correspondent Lydia Coutré at [email protected].