Welcome to the Slaughterhouse

by Jack Gilroy and Nick Mottern

Scranton July 22 Rally at Artillery Shell factory in downtown Scranton

What does Ukraine need the most? Its military officials often list five things when asked, Dmitri Alperovitch said in his latest podcast, which was recorded in Ukraine. And those five things are artillery shells, artillery shells, artillery shells, artillery shells, and more artillery shells. U.S. President Joe Biden said much the same when asked a similar question about two weeks ago at the conclusion of this year’s NATO summit in Lithuania.

THE PRESIDENT:  “What we need most of all is artillery shells, and they’re in short supply.  We’re working on that.” 

Just off Rt I81 near Scranton, Pa, Biden’s hometown, is Exit 185 now called the President Biden Expressway. On July 22nd, multiple peace and justice organizers went to Scranton to focus on what the Ukrainians and the President of the United States say is the most important weapons needed: artillery shells, and now the added dimension of putting bomblets inside artillery shells for use as cluster bombs.

Drive down the steep slope of the Biden Expressway to find the #4 Merchant of Death in the US, General Dynamics (download brochure), operating the Army Ammunition Plant just a chip shot away from the central shopping center of downtown Scranton, Pa.

During the Vietnam War students from the nearby University of Scranton protested outside the 155 mm artillery slaughterhouse. There is no record of any protests at the General Dynamics facility in decades. That changed on Saturday, July 22 when anti-war activists drove to Scranton from Vermont, Virginia, New Jersey, Long Island and New York City, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pittsburgh,  and upstate New York.

We learned how deeply Scranton culture supports militarism and the Merchants of Death as well as their native son, Joe Biden. Our estimate of Scranton participants at the rally was less than ten and two of them were Trump supporters who parked their tractor-trailer alongside our gathering. Local Television stations were asked to cover our event but did not and a lone Scranton Times photographer snapped a shot of the rally that was buried in their Sunday edition. 

With mainstream media in the pocket of the Merchants of Death, the antiwar activist must bring their own media.  You can browse our long video to catch short and pithy analyses of brilliant activist leaders like Debra Sweet, Director of The World Can’t Wait, David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War,  Martha Hennessy, Catholic Worker, Gloria Caballero Roca, Professor Bard Micro College, Dennis Hill of Black Alliance for Peace, Joe Lombardo, United Anti War Coalition. All of these amazing people of peace are captured by videographer Vera Scroggins in her video:

Rally for Peace in Ukraine – Scranton PA

To question the region’s embrace of militarism by focusing on the largest artillery shell maker in the United States may have been sacrilegious to a region steeped in a religious embrace of militarism. The Catholic University of Scranton just a few minutes walk from the Ammunition factory trains college students in the art of killing via ROTC. Ten colleges in northeastern Pennsylvania send students to train at the University of Scranton.

Just a short drive up I81 to the little town of Archbald is the #1 Merchant of Death in the World, Lockheed-Martin where Laser guided Paveway bombs are made to be fired from killer drones. 

A twenty-minute drive from downtown Scranton to the largest military electronic storehouse in the nation is the US Army Tobyhanna Depot, the biggest industrial employer in Northeastern Pennsylvania employing over 3000 workers. Scrantonians are just one of many Merchant of Death brainwashed and money-washed populations in the United States. The region is historically Democratic and their present Congressional Representative, Matt Cartwright is a member of the House Progressive Caucus. Cartwright is always ready and willing to praise new military contracts coming to northeastern Pennsylvania and always votes each session for more military spending

We won’t give up on Scranton. The good people there deserve better than a house of death in the center of their town. President Biden repeats how he wants to renew passenger train travel to New York City from Scranton. Why not a more meaningful proposal like converting the Ammunition plant into a rail production center?

In 1855, Scranton was the leading iron maker in the United States. Later, Scranton became known as the Electric City. Scranton Joe could leave a proud legacy by focusing on the building of electric trains in his hometown. Or would that not be the patriotic thing to do for his hometown of entrenched militarism?

It’s time for Americans to demand economic conversion from designing and producing tools to kill into serving the real needs of health, housing, climate, and transportation. Is Joe’s hometown ready to accept that they have been scammed by what Pope Francis told the US Congress  “The arms industry is drenched in blood“?

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