ABC Laments Apathy, Lack of Anti-Iraq War Activity at Kent State

Catching up with a story from Sunday night, ABC devoted a piece to lamenting the apathy at Kent State, a hotbed of anti-Vietnam war protests, toward the war in Iraq. Reporter Geoff Morrell passed along an all too common smear of war supporters as he contended that "many are reluctant to speak out against it for fear of being called unpatriotic." In his World News Tonight piece, Morrell fretted that the "indifference" toward the war "is surprising at this school, a hotbed of anti-war protests during Vietnam, and still popular with liberals." Comments from left-wing students dominated Morrell's piece, such as one who charged: "It's an act of modern day imperialism, where America is going to other countries and moving, trying to expand its borders to take over other countries and use them for economic resources." Morrell even found a vet, who "fought in Iraq and Afghanistan," who became "totally disillusioned." The vet-turned-student declared: "I think it's an unjust war." Morrell touted how "the 25 year-old enrolled at Kent State, hoping he could reinvigorate its anti-war movement," but he disappointingly found only apathy. (Transcript follows.)

This item was part of Tuesday's MRC CyberAlert.

Anchor Dan Harris, over on-screen numbers from an ABC News/Washington Post poll, set up the February 26 World News Tonight piece:
"In the 'Spotlight' tonight, the students of Kent State. It has now been more than 30 years since that school in Ohio became an enduring symbol of the Vietnam anti-war movement. Four protestors were killed there. Today, more than half of Americans say the Iraq war was not worth fighting [55 percent] and most do not approve of how the President is handling it [60 percent]. Many students at Kent State agree. But as ABC's Geoff Morrell reports, they no longer believe that their voices could help stop a war."

Geoff Morrell began, over scenes of the Northeastern Ohio campus: "Bitterly cold and covered in snow, Kent State seems a world away from Baghdad. Most students here, and on campuses across the country, are too busy studying, socializing -- even sleeping, to worry much about the war in Iraq."

Woman student: "I'm just trying to get through school right now, honestly."

Morrell: "But such indifference is surprising at this school, a hotbed of anti-war protests during Vietnam, and still popular with liberals."

Damareo Cooper, Kent State student: "It's an act of modern day imperialism, where America is going to other countries and moving, trying to expand its borders to take over other countries and use them for economic resources."

Morrell: "Indeed, most students we spoke with oppose the war, but believe they are powerless to stop it."

Meredith Jones, Kent State student: "Yeah, we have a voice. But really we're not going to change America. So, you have got to get a whole country to do that. And that's really hard to
do, starting in little Kent, Ohio."

Morrell: "President Bush narrowly won Ohio in 2004, giving him a second term. But supporters here are hard to find."

Matthew White, Kent State College Republicans: "There's probably a large number of silent, non-active conservatives and Republicans on campus, who are indeed in favor of the war and of our President."

Morrell: "Freshman David Airhart would seem to be among them. He joined the Marine Corps out of high school, fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he left the military last year, totally disillusioned."

David Airhart, Kent State student: "I think it's an unjust war. And I think we shouldn't be over there. Not only because it's unjust, but because we're the ones fighting and dying. And we don't even really know why."

Morrell: "The 25 year-old enrolled at Kent State, hoping he could reinvigorate its anti-war movement."

Morrell to: Airhart: "How's it going so far?"

Airhart: "Ah, not well. I would say. There are, the majority of the campus is either indifferent or not passionate enough to get involved."

Morrell, over historic still shots of the violence in the early 1970s: "There have been a few small student demonstrations. But nothing like what happened here May 4th, 1970. On that day, the National Guard opened fire on students protesting Vietnam, killing four. There is one glaring difference between now and when this campus exploded in violence 35 years ago. Students today have no fear of being drafted. They have far less personally at stake in this conflict. And many are reluctant to speak out against it for fear of being called unpatriotic. Yet the Vietnam parallel persists."

Kevin Clark, Kent State student: "I feel that this is our generation's Vietnam, like we don't want this to go on. We want it to end. We want it to stop."

Morrell concluded: "While the Vietnam war was especially unpopular on college campuses, polls show no generation gap today. A majority of college students, like the rest of Americans, believe the Iraq war is not worth fighting. Geoff Morrell, ABC News, Kent, Ohio."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center