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Nick Patler: One citizen’s protest against Northrop Grumman coming to Waynesboro

Chris Graham
nick patler
Nick Patler

What began for children as a much anticipated elementary school trip ended in horror. On a summer day in 2018 near the ancient city of Ṣa ʿdah, located in northwest Yemen, children and their chaperones were on a bus returning home from a picnic. Shortly after the bus stopped for a break at the Dahyan market, a missile from a Saudi-led coalition airstrike destroyed their bus, killing 29 children, and wounding another 30, all of them under the age of 15.

Since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen, more than 11,000 children have been killed or maimed, with estimates of another 50,000 civilians, including children, dead from the ongoing famine resulting from the Saudi blockade, according to UNICEF and other sources.

Northrop Grumman, one of the largest weapons manufacturers in the U.S., which is planning on building a plant in Waynesboro, directly trained the Saudi-led coalition accused of war crimes in Yemen for attacking schools, markets, hospitals, weddings, and funerals. Most recently in Gaza, Northrop Grumman is among the top U.S. corporations providing the killing technology to Israel that is destroying lives and living spaces, with more than 5,000 children murdered by missiles and technology made in the USA.

Make no mistake about it: Northrop Grumman’s purpose and profits, like others in their industry, are driven and dependent on war and conflict—on the killing of other human beings, on the destruction and destabilization of their communities, on the brutalization and suffering of millions. The logical extension of many of the products they manufacture is harm and death and the violation of human rights.

This company not only designs and builds lethal weapons systems, such as missiles, drones, and bombers; it also uses its powerful influence to steer U.S foreign policy in the direction of military intervention and conflict because its lifeblood depends on it even though it is a disaster for the global community and makes us less safe here at home. Northrup Grumman also pushes for bloated investment in war technology and lobbies the government incessantly to stimulate arms sales globally, according to Military.com.

These efforts from Northrop Grumman, working in tandem with our government, contribute to flooding the world with deadly weapons, many of which are inevitably used against other human beings, including on schools and hospitals—and on a bus full of children.

More than 80 percent of Northrop Grumman’s revenues come from U.S. taxpayers (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Form 10-K). This means ongoing horror for people abroad funded by you and me, perpetuating state and regional tensions and violence. At the same time, here at home, it discourages creative and peaceful approaches to the fires of conflicts globally that could save lives, prevent suffering, and make all of us safer and better.

With all considered, I say no to Northrop Grumman coming to Waynesboro, and I hope more of my community will join me. This company does not represent my values and I hope they do not represent the values of many of you. While the seeming economic benefit of Northrop Grumman coming to Waynesboro may be appealing (and this is questionable, since much of their highly technical workforce will likely come from the outside), this should be a moral or ethical issue above all else when we consider the terrible harm caused by the products and technology they create and promote.

Even if there is an economic benefit, human lives and well-being should matter more than dollars. We as a community here in Waynesboro can show the world that we are taking a stand for a vulnerable humanity against a massive corporation that contributes to killing fields globally. We certainly would not want our children, our neighborhoods, and our communities to be in harm’s way by devastating killing technology. Why would we consent to other children and communities being on the receiving end of our missiles and bombs?

As I stressed in a recent post, if we lived the highest precepts of our faiths and values, stopping wars and ending the proliferation of killing technology globally would be a no-brainer. If Christians living in the Waynesboro area authentically lived their highest precepts – the Golden Rule, love of enemy – Northrop Grumman would have to look elsewhere.

I know all of this is likely shouting into a tornado, but as an irrepressible optimist who hopes to inspire a flicker of conscience, I still have to ask:

What will you do, Waynesboro?

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].