The Alan Canfora Story: More Lies From the World's Oldest Living Student Radical (Part Two, continued from Part One below)
(Continued from Part One)
Canfora engaged in quite a bit of psychological projection in his recent attacks of me on both his personal web site and the web site for his "charity." (And when was the last time you've seen a legitimate "charity" engage in personal attacks?)
One of his more deceptive claims was that my book was self-published, which is highly misleading since the book was originally published by Prometheus Books, based in Buffalo. As it so happened, by the time Prometheus allowed the book go out of print, I became an independent publisher myself, bought and sold all of their remaining copies of the hardcover version, and decided to bring out a paperback edition. Despite his insinuations, there is nothing unusual about an author keeping a book in print (visit the Author's Guild "Back in Print" program at
Canfora also misrepresented my credentials, suggesting that I was just a Hollywood tour guide. A more honest individual would have acknowledged that I am actually an author, editor, and publisher of books and databases, not someone who rides around Hollywood giving tours on buses.
Canfora also wants you to believe that I am a frustrated wannabe writer. That is a mighty silly argument considering that Four Dead in Ohio was published two and a half decades ago, and I have gone on to write and/or edit three other books.
While Canfora dismisses my book as "lame" (his one-word review), critics who are not personally threatened by my work gave me reviews most authors would love to have. The Cleveland Plain Dealer thought I did "an excellent job piecing together the events that culminated in the killings and the subsequent cover-ups" and that I put Kent State into historical perspective. The Detroit Free Press called the book "definitive" while Knight Newpapers called it "convincing, well documented and well researched." Paul Aron, the author of Unsolved Mysteries of American History, thought the book was balanced and thorough--"and as close to the last word as anyone has come so far." Choice magazine thought I brought "more clarity to this controversial historical tragedy than any other work to date." It even called the book "as entertaining as the best detective fiction and and as analytical and well documented as the best journalism or scholarship."
Contrary to his claims I curried favor with KSU student government leaders in my senior year at Kent (whatever currying favor is supposed to mean), the president of student government, Bob Gage, appointed me as his special assistant. Note how Canfora makes that appointment sound sinister. And while he criticizes me for interviewing attorneys who represented the National Guardsmen, since when is that, as he suggests, a treacherous act? All it means is that I am not an ideologue and I wanted to hear what the defense attorneys had to say about their trial strategy and their thoughts on what the acquittal meant.
Ironically, while Canfora claims that I have been attacking everyone in sight, I have never engaged in a public feud with anyone else, as Canfora has on numerous occasions. I may have exposed some pretty reprehensible behavior, including Canfora's incessant lying, but I believe that everything should come out, whether it involves with a dishonest wounded student, a dishonest professor, a Guardsman who kills unnecessarily, or anyone else who butchers the truth.
Canfora, as I mentioned, has a long record of (how shall I put it?) not playing well with others. He has fought with targets who have had far less political differences than he and I do. For example, once he even attacked his fellow wounded survivor, Robbie Stamps, after Stamps complained that a member of Canfora's May 4 Task Force came close to physically assaulting former KSU President Carol Cartwright while she stood vigil at the site of one students' death. Canfora, ever the confrontationalist, defended that student's behavior and actually lectured his "blood brother" Stamps for supporting a more civilized approach.
Canfora also feuded with Greg Rambo, another student who helped get the Guardsmen prosecuted; Laurel Krause, fatality Allison Krause's younger sister, who wanted to work with him to videotape eyewitness testimony; university administrators like Dr. Faye Biles, who defended the university's insistence on building a gym annex over a significant chunk of the shooting site; and former KSU President Michael Schwartz, who did not appreciate Canfora's oft-repeated threats to shut down Kent State if he did get the exact size memorial he wanted (Schwartz called him a "ruthless ax-grinder"). Then of course, there are the Guardsmen themselves, whom Canfora regularly characterizes as a "death squad" hell-bent on murdering innocent students.
Canfora has also fought with several other researchers, including the late Charles Thomas, whom Canfora once denounced as a charlatan. After Thomas died Canfora actually had the chutzpah to announce Thomas' death--something he also did for another nemesis, Guard Colonel Charles Fassinger.
Regarding the parents of the dead students: far from condemning me, most of them have on several occasions expressed their appreciation for everything I did for them. The only ingrate among the victims is Canfora, who acts as if May 4 is his personal domain and that he and only he can dictate how May 4 is remembered.
In Canfora's world, there is no "agree to disagree" principle. It always has to be his way and if he does not get his way, he will lash out at you. Even some of his fellow activists (for instance Bill Arthrell) complain he acts like the "dictator of May 4."
In addition to trying to smear me on both his personal web site and the web site of his so-called "charity," Canfora even attacked me on a Facebook page after I asked a simple question about a fatality's living situation. I asked the question only because I suspected a screenwriter had it wrong. This was an another unprovoked attack that seemed not only contrived but driven by his own hatred of anyone who poses a threat to his being at the center of attention.
In fact, this feels more like a petty, pointless fight not over May 4 but who gets to enjoy the spoils of May 4. At stake are movie rights, lecture fees, and recognition and publicly from historians, newspeople, and documentarians. How else can one explain why Canfora been so consistently irrational and utterly ruthless in trying to destroy his competition? How else does one account for his hysterical, over-the-top attacks on someone who is not only sympathetic to the very victims he pretends to represent, but who has consistently and more thoroughly documented the injustices done to the twelve other victims?
Coincidentally, I discovered Canfora's attacks on me on the same day the 66-year-old celebrated the birth of his first child. One would think that a time like that his heart would be filled with love and joy, and not with thoughts of revenge and destroying his competition.
I just discovered a post on the Facebook site "Kent State May 4th," which contains one of the worst booboos I've seen in a while. There, in a post by Gregory Payne, a professor of rhetoric at Emerson College (I like to call him "The Professor with the Suspicious Footnotes," because his footnotes do not match his text), was a photograph of Dean Kahler, Carl Barbato, and Tom Hensley, along with Payne's caption: "Heroes for Justice at Kent State."
Of the three individuals Payne portrays as heroes, only one of them, Dean Kahler, actually took part in the efforts to see that justice was done. Neither Barbato nor Hensley nor anyone else on the faculty showed much interest in the victims' struggle for justice.
That includes one credit-thieving professor, Jerry M. Lewis, who tried to convince me he helped the parents get a federal grand jury. He was so out of the loop that he did not realize he was talking to one of then-students who actually worked with parents and the students who petitioned for the grand jury investigation. In fact, Arthur Krause once warned his supporters: "That man is not to be trusted."
No one on the faculty did anything more than sign an ineffectual faculty resolution asking for the federal grand jury or sign the students' petition.
This blog is written by William A. Gordon, a Kent State alumnus and the author of "Four Dead in Ohio" and three other books. It offers commentary on the still unfolding developments in the Kent State shooting case.