Thomas K. Fowler/AP
In this image made from video, a police officer uses pepper spray as he walks down a line of Occupy demonstrators sitting on the ground at the University of California, Davis on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. The video - posted on YouTube - was shot Friday as police moved in on more than a dozen tents erected on campus and arrested 10 people, nine of them students.
One of the central problems with understanding the Occupy Movement is that, in America, we have no real recent experience with large-scale protests. It's not like police, mayors, members of Congress, university presidents, of even President Obama himself have been studying the country's last major protest movement, again the Vietnam War.
Some of these leaders have no excuse. They lived through Vietnam. Some were on the protest battlements themselves. Some were in the actual war.
The result is that the country is dangerously unprepared for what has suddenly morphed into an increasingly violent showdown between Occupy protesters and the authorities.
Last week, I suggested that another Kent State shooting is unlikely. "Kent State" is popular shorthand for a 1970 massacre at Kent State University in Ohio, when national guardsmen killed four students and wounded nine, prompting a national outrage and signaling the beginning of the end of the Vietnam War, as well as much of the romance of the countercultural 1960s.