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Jim Murphy, of Highland, who opposes plans to base new F-35 jets at Truax Field, displays peace signs outside a public hearing Sept. 12 at the Alliant Energy Center. 

We, the Madison Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) call on our elected officials and community leaders to oppose stationing F-35 fighter jets at Truax Air National Guard base in Madison.

As Quakers, we seek to remove the circumstances that foster war, based on our belief there is that of God in everyone. That belief has been shown to turn adversaries into friends, while to prepare for war creates a threat, making enemies of people who might otherwise be our allies.

The nuclear-capable F-35s have been designated a part of the U.S. strategic nuclear bomber force. They can each carry two nuclear warheads up to four times more powerful than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. We object to Wisconsin allowing Truax Air National Guard to house these jets and to train pilots to fly them. If the Truax F-35s are given a "nuclear mission," the Air National Guard will become complicit in the nuclear bombing of other nations, and Truax itself will become a military target.

We are also very concerned about the day-to-day impact of F-35 flight operations on the residents of east Madison. According to the draft Air National Guard Environmental Impact Statement released in August 2019, the expansion of the Truax base to accommodate the F-35s will cause increased noise levels. State and local government will bear the cost of much of the relocation of families and soundproofing of homes. Low-income residents in surrounding neighborhoods will have their communities disrupted. Young children and vulnerable adults in homes and schools in the area will be subject to unacceptable noise levels. Residents in the periphery will have to cope with increased flights and noise, and the impact on property values.

There have already been serious threats to water quality in northeastern Madison due to PFAS contamination from Truax firefighting activities. We fear further contamination of Madison well water by Truax expansion and maintenance of F-35s. Those living near Truax will also have to contend with the health effects of air pollution due to increased jet exhaust from F-35 “backburner” or auxiliary engine use. Finally, the fossil fuel expended by each F-35 flight will contribute significantly to climate change.

We applaud our elected officials who are working to increase diplomacy, and urge all to follow their lead. We are also grateful to members of the Wisconsin National Guard, who work to keep us safe. We honor them with our respect and compassion, but we do not support the use of violence as a means to this end. Our National Guard serves us by offering a range of domestic support services, including disaster relief regionally and nationally, firefighting and water assistance, and help with civilian aircraft issues. By redirecting tax money from the F-35 program, the Guard could supplement these and add other missions including cybersecurity and anti-terrorism work. Every dollar spent on health care, education and the environment creates up to three times as many jobs as the same amount spent on the military.

In the words of Albert Einstein: “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. The very prevention of war requires more faith, courage and resolution than are needed to prepare for war.”

We urge our elected officials to summon the faith, courage and resolution to reject the F-35 aircraft being located at Truax Field. As members of the Religious Society of Friends, we also advocate for an end to the nuclear capable F-35 program and for U.S. compliance with international treaties to eliminate nuclear weapons. Surely Madison can attract clean energy and other sustainable industry that will create jobs without threatening the health and safety of Madison residents. We wish to see Wisconsin as a force for peace in the nation and the world.

The Madison Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) was formed in 1938 from a group that had been worshiping since the 1920s. It is affiliated with the Northern Yearly Meeting, which is composed of monthly meetings in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and North Dakota. 

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

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