Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

“Tax Day to Earth Day” Encourages Financial Reprioritization

Photo by Sailor Harris

Washington Against Nuclear Weapons Coalition (WANW), a group consisting of environmentalist, peace organizations and educators committed to encouraging sustainability and eco-conscious living, and the Whitman Climate Justice Coalition sponsored a “Tax Day” march to protest government spending on nuclear weapons and war on April 22. The group also screened a film to bring attention to the environmental effects of nuclear weapons on April 20.

“We feel that while rampant militarism is a grave concern, nuclear weapons pose a unique and catastrophic humanitarian threat to our planet, and are therefore worth prioritizing,” WANW’s website reads.

With Earth Day just around the corner on April 22, WANW believes now is the perfect time to reevaluate priorities and take action to protect the environment. The events are called “Tax Day to Earth Day,” emphasizing the groups’ goals to reallocate government spending.

The Whitman Climate Justice Coalition (CJC) sponsored the events. Anna Shimkus is a member of the group. 

“My biggest comment would be the focus on how the formation and usage of nuclear weapons has irrevocable impacts on the environment and on people. I think that there is a lot of complexity surrounding the politics of the U.S.’s current nuclear arsenal, but I think that the idea of investing $2 trillion into nuclear weapons when so much of that money could be put into environmental and community projects is unbelievable,” Shimkus said.  

Senior environmental studies-politics major Claire Warncke is an intern with both Washington for Nuclear Abolition and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility and has been involved in planning the Tax Day Events. She discussed the march’s objectives in an interview about the tax day festivities that are coming up at Whitman as well as in Walla Walla. 

Warncke explained that WANW is sponsoring and coordinating a series of events statewide throughout the entire coalition which is composed of over 60 organizations in each congressional district to either host demonstrations or movie nights.

“[The goal is] raising awareness and also keeping ourselves visible for questioning the amount of money that’s going towards nuclear weapons and war and militarism in general over funding human needs,” Warncke said.

According to her, these protests consist of a good combination of different age ranges, but more specifically retired people that are involved with this specific organization.

“I know that we have policy priorities and they were strategically working to push those during the session this year. But a lot of people are also trying to arrange meetings with different Congress members,” Warncke said. “For this week, the only goal is to raise awareness [and] grow the coalition.”

Warncke said the goal of the event is to grow the coalition and make people more aware of nuclear weapons.

“For Walla Walla, it’s just to grow the coalition and to let students and community members know that nuclear weapons are still an issue, so that’s my goal in organizing,” Warncke said. 

Warncke discussed the contribution of taxpayers in 2023 and their big investment in nuclear weapons. 

“Taxpayers in 2023 in Washington contributed $778.28 million to nuclear weapons,” Warncke said. “I think most people still buy into the myth that deterrence works and that mutually assured destruction keeps us peaceful.”

Moreover, Warncke expressed her concern about the harm that is caused by the production of nuclear weapons and the mining and testing in the past. 

“Continuing this is ultimately not keeping people safe and it never has. I know the U.S. didn’t sign the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” Warncke said. “But I know we’re signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And so they’re not upholding their agreement under that treaty by investing $2 trillion in this to revamp their nuclear weapons arsenal over the next 20-25 years.”

Warncke talked about the current Tax Day Events happening at Whitman and in Walla Walla. 

“I decided to show a movie called Nuclear Savage: the Islands of Secret Project 4.1, and it chronicles the testing. Basically, it’s making the argument — which I agree with — that the United States deliberately did testing on the Marshall Islands when the weather was going to be bad because the fallout from the test would then drift towards the people living on the islands and then they could study the effects of the radiation poisoning. It chronicles that experience,” Warncke said.

Warncke described the plans for Tax Day.

“We’re also going to be making posters for the demonstration that we’re having on Monday, which is kind of advertised as an Earth Day demonstration. [The goal is to] try to raise awareness for people about where our money is going,” Warncke said.

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