Note: The proposed basing of new F35 fighter jets at the Burlington, VT airport has been extremely controversial and hotly contested as many have uncovered the vast range of health, social and environmental impacts these earsplittingly loud and polluting jets will have on the surrounding community.
I used to live 9 miles from the Burlington airport, on the other side of some tall hills. Every night from inside my home I heard the F15 fighter jets taking off. The awful noise from those old jets is apparently nothing compared to the new ones. Yet the entire Vermont Congressional delegation–Patrick Leahy, Bernie Sanders and Peter Welch–plus the Governor–all support this new horror. So much for Vermont’s “quality of life.”
–Anne Petermann for the GJEP Team
By Thia Sands, October 30, 2013
On Monday night two resolutions to ban F35 military jets from being based at the Burlington airport were defeated by the Burlington (VT) City Council. My family and I were there. The hall was filled to capacity on two levels. We were in the balcony.
Some 350 Guard members and their supporters, many bused in by the military, arrived more than an hour before the meeting and filled the level where the Council sat, and where the public had to approach the microphone, and also some of the seats upstairs. They signed up their people to speak.
New rules were then announced by the Council President as the meeting began. Burlington residents who had never before voiced an opinion on the issue to the Council would speak first. Participants had been sorted accordingly, and all of the F35 basing opponents who had spoken in the past were sidelined. For the two hours we were there, we heard from members of the Guard about why the public was indebted to their “service,” and about how the economy of the airport was dependent on them, and how a vote against the F35 was a vote against their families and all they had done for us.
A few Burlington residents who had never spoken before the Council and who were opposed to the basing were also in the mix. One person said nothing but turned on a recording of the F35 during his time to speak. The Council president (a Democrat) became enraged and shouted at him to turn it off, saying he was not being civil. She pounded her gavel and yelled at him to stop it. She then dismissed him from his turn, as people in the crowd called out “Censorship!” She became more enraged. Then when a woman from the Guard got up later to speak, she commented “Well done!” as the woman finished.
Last night was a War-Economy Coup. There is no military-industrial-political “complex.” It is a single, indistinguishable monolith.
I did not stand for the pledge, which occurred an hour into the meeting. As I listened to the words, I just kept thinking:
1. I do not pledge my allegiance to any lifeless object.
2. I do not believe in the “Republic for which” this flag stands.
3. I do not believe in the “One God” of the War Economy, under which all decisions are made.
4. I do not believe in one “nation” that is “indivisible.” I think people need to become highly “divisible.”
5. There is not “liberty and justice for all.” As I heard those last words, I just kept thinking of the person sitting outside on the edge of Main Street, leaning against a wall, with a cardboard sign that said “hard times,” as people passed by on their way to eat at restaurants, go shopping, or attend a political meeting with a pre-set outcome.
With tonight’s decision, there likely will be many more people joining the woman I saw on the street as we went into City Hall (and the man I saw outside who had replaced her when we left), as more homes near the airport are razed, more people are displaced with no where to go, and the War Economy marches on.
I don’t know what will happen next, but it’s certainly not over yet.