Photo déjà vu: Kent State 1970, streets of Iran 2009

The photo below left, which shows Iranian plain-clothes police beating a protester on the streets of Iran, was published on Monday by The New York Daily News. (Taken by Agence France Press/Getty Images, it was photo No. 30 in the Daily News’ special series of Iran images.) The photo on the right is the famous image from Kent State, taken by John Filo in May of 1970, that shows Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the body of slain student protester Jeffrey Miller. Both photos feature a woman screaming about the unnecessary violence she has just witnessed. Miller was shot dead by National Guardsmen who felt agitated by students protesting the United States’ military escalation in South Asia. The beaten Iranian man was one of tens of thousands who protested the announcement that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been re-elected president. The 1970 Kent State killings — and the protests that followed — swayed U.S. public opinion against the Vietnam War. It’s images like the one below left that will help sway world opinion against Iran’s rulers, and maintain pressure on them to recount the ballots of an election whose results seem so far-fetched.

TOPSHOTS-IRAN-VOTE-UNRESTKENT STATE UNIV '70 JOHN FILO

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5 Responses to Photo déjà vu: Kent State 1970, streets of Iran 2009

  1. Rachel King says:

    It’s an interesting comparison. Sure, it might sway world opinion about Iran, but will it really make a difference within the country itself like the Kent State photo did in the U.S.?

    • rachel. apologies for replying so late. i think the last week has shown that a video is more important than the photo i spotlighted. but i’d say that this photo from iran will add to the “neda video” and, yes, help turn opinion against iran’s clerical rulers.

  2. Mark Stricherz says:

    I always welcome a discussion of 1970s politics, but I am not sure what Kent State changed. Less than two weeks later, the National Guard shot dead two students at Jackson State College, in Jackson, MS. And more than two years later, President Nixon won re-election in a landslide. Both events reaffirmed the status quo; they didn’t change it.

    To be sure, Kent State galvanized college-educated baby boomers against the Establishment, which still affects our politics and culture today. But I don’t see any immediate effects from Kent State. Maybe I am missing something.

    • mark. apologies for replying so late. you make valid points about the nixon’s re-election and the continued violence against students, but i would argue that the photo helped galvanize public opinion against the war and (along with many other factors) led to more anti-war protests — and a general sentiment that the vietnam war was an unwinnable one.

  3. iskid2astop says:

    Kent State was so before my time, but the idea of it sticks with me.
    I was actually talking with someone who brought up Kent State comparatively to Iran. His point was the endurance they are showing in Iran. He said that a couple bullets, a beating or two, and the protesting stopped at Kent State, while in Iran now, they are enduring all that, and more, en masse. I have huge respect for the Iranian protesters. I think most freedom lovers do. We wish we wanted something that much.

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