Opinion | Now Baldwin should focus on protecting children from F-35s By Tom Boswell | guest column in the Cap Times Dec 27, 2022
An attendee of the 2021 Cap Times Idea Fest session entitled "One-on-One With Tammy Baldwin" holds a sign in protest of the F-35 fighter jets while Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin speaks with Cap Times bureau chief Jessie Opoien in Shannon Hall.
photo credit RUTHIE HAUGE Tom Boswell writes: "It’s great to hear that Sen. Tammy Baldwin advanced gay rights by leading the charge to pass the Respect for Marriage Act. Now we need her to respect the rights of our children to health, safety and a good education. We need to persuade her to forsake her love affair with militarism, Lockheed Martin and the deadly F-35 fighter jets. I recently read that the U.S. is the only U.N. member country that has failed to ratify the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. It would be great if Baldwin would adopt this cause as her next challenge. But first she needs to demonstrate she really cares about our children and their welfare. The U.N. treaty lists 41 rights that all children should enjoy. Many of these universal rights are threatened by the F-35 nuclear-capable killer machines Baldwin wants to foist on the families of Madison’s neighborhoods. Right No. 29 says our “children’s education should help them fully develop their personalities, talents and abilities” and “help them live peacefully and protect the environment.” The sound of the F-35 is perceived as four times louder than current F-16s at the Truax Field airbase. According to Dr. Ann Behrmann, a pediatrician and leader of Physicians for Social Responsibility, children are more vulnerable to noise due to the size of their ear canals and because they have less control over their environment. Even minimal sensorineural hearing loss has been associated with poor school performance and social and emotional dysfunction. Noise has been found to negatively affect children’s attention, concentration and memory and, consequently, reading and math achievement. Increasing awareness that chronic exposure to high aircraft noise levels can impair learning led the World Health Organization and NATO to conclude that day care centers and schools should not be located near major sources of noise, such as airports. There are 59 educational programs, pre-school to college, within three miles of Truax. As for the environment, our children won’t be able to enjoy their school gardens, school forests and playgrounds without being subjected to this noise, not to mention the 100 to 200 million pounds of CO2 each jet will dump on our neighborhoods annually. Their school environment will be a virtual war zone. Right No. 27 states: “Children have the right to food, clothing and a safe place to live so they can develop in the best possible way.” Adequate food and clothing can be a struggle for low-income people on the north side, but a safe place to live is out of the question if the F-35s arrive. No child will be safe from the noise and other harmful pollutants, whether inside or outdoors. Right No. 24 attests, “Children have the right to … clean water to drink, healthy food and a clean and safe environment.” Clean water is out of the question, too. The military, (with help from the city and county), has already polluted our drinking water, groundwater, and lakes and streams with PFAS toxic chemicals. It will take decades to clean up. Right No. 6 says children have a right to life, survival and development, and No. 38 says “children have the right to be protected during war.” Baldwin informs her constituents that the F-35 first-strike jets will make us more “secure.” That’s a lie. Military experts have told Safe Skies Clean Water that, regardless of where the B61-12 nuclear bombs are stored, Madison will now be a target in the event of nuclear war. Right No. 3 gets to the crux of the matter. It states, “When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children.” It continues: “Governments should make sure that people and places responsible for looking after children are doing a good job.” The senator needs to know we are doing a commendable job in caring for our children. Now it is her turn to step up and do her job.
A Cap Times story noted that Baldwin got a coalition to pass the gay rights bill by listening to the concerns of Republicans. This is truly admirable, but how about listening to the concerns of her constituents here at home? Is it because we lack the funds Lockheed Martin has to get her attention? Or because our children are not as articulate as the lobbyists and arms merchants? Bernie Sanders just announced he plans to introduce a War Powers Resolution in an attempt to halt the horrific Saudi-led war in Yemen. The war has resulted in more than 375,000 deaths, with 262,500 of those being children under the age of 5, according to the U.N. Sanders notes, “the war has made billions of dollars for companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing, while people in Yemen see 'Made in the USA' on bombs that are destroying their country.” Let’s hope Baldwin signs on to Sanders’ War Powers Resolution. It would be a good first step. We are a nation based on fear, force and violence. It is probably not possible to embrace these weapons of war, like the F-35, and also care for our children.
Read the Cap Times article here:
Tom Boswell is a community organizer and freelance journalist who lives just west of the Truax Field airbase in Madison. Tom is also our contact for the WNPJ member group James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation.