The Answer to Campus Unrest—Another Kent State

BY MARTIN KICH

Writing for the Detroit News, Michael Gerstein reports:

A northern Michigan Republican Party official resigned on Wednesday after landing in hot water for implying in a tweet that university protesters in California should be stopped violently.

Dan Adamini, the Marquette County Republican Party secretary, apologized for his tweet. It made national news because of its apparent call for a repeat of the Ohio National Guard’s shooting of four students at Kent State University in 1970, when nine other university students were also wounded amid a Vietnam War protest.

Adamini said Wednesday he has received hundreds of death threats over the uproar and that he resigned Wednesday because he’s hoping it will satisfy those outraged by his statement.

“Whenever you’re involved in an organization, you want to be an asset,” he said. “At the moment I’ve become a distraction, and that’s not helping anybody. I stepped aside so hopefully the people that are so angry will feel that they’ve accomplished what they set out to do, and maybe we can all get on with our lives.”

Adamini said he resigned voluntarily because of his internet posts, which he said he now regrets having shared online because he thinks social media was not the right venue to share his thoughts.

He tried to clarify what he calls a “horribly worded” tweet, stating that he was not calling for police to shoot protesters, or for a repeat of the Kent State shootings.

“’My goal was to alert people that the violence was getting out of hand in this country,” he said. “My fear is if the protesters can’t stop the violence, authorities might come in and stop the violence and that would be tragic.”

That message was a stark contrast from Adamini’s Thursday tweet: “Violent protesters who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State perhaps. One bullet stops a lot of thuggery.” . . .

Adamini wrote in a separate Facebook post: “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 President Beverly Warren criticized Adamini’s statements in a tweet Saturday.

“This is an abhorrent and painful use of our tragedy and has no place in healing the divide in America,” she wrote. ‘We will respond.

 

Cleveland.com republished the bulk of the story verbatim—with the notable exception that that article quoted Adamini’s tweet and Facebook posting much closer to the top.

At first, I suspected that Gerstein had “buried” the core of the story. (The Detroit News is a more conservative alternative to the Detroit Free Press.) But, I think that Adamini actually comes off worse in Gerstein’s story because one pays more attention to his attempts to recast his “mistake” than one does when the tweet and Facebook posting are very close to the lead.

And if one accepted Adamini’s “apology,” one would, of course, conclude that he is the person most owed an apology. After all, the response to his tweet and posting have been, according to him, more unhinged than what he wrote. He has even received death threats—when, ironically, all he was really attempting to do was to discourage—rather than incite—violence. His main error was, in fact, not what he wrote but the media in which he chose to express himself. And he is resigning mainly to allow his organization to continue to function without distraction.

Surely this stands as one of the great non-apologies in the history of American non-apologies.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, an error is not impulsive if one chooses to repeat it, and one does not get the impression that Adamini would have composed a thoughtful reflection on the implications of campus unrest had he simply chosen another medium.

The main problem with operating largely within an ideological bubble is that almost nothing can be kept contained within that—or any other–bubble.

 

Gerstein’s complete article is available at: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/michigan/2017/02/08/gop-official-resigns-kent-state-tweet/97668394/.

 

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