American defense contractors have a fairly straightforward mission: design the tools that keep our country safe and our troops protected. Historically, American military innovations have improved the lives of all Americans through faster transportation, better medicine, and more reliable digital technologies.
But something strange has happened to at least one contractor. At Lockheed Martin, the mission of innovating has taken a back seat in order to push the restriction of employee speech. Leaked documents reveal that the company forced its executives to attend a bizarre training session where they were criticized for being white men and repeatedly forced to repeat humiliating statements. They were told that “a can-do attitude,” “hard work,” “operating from principles,” and “striving towards success” were traits of a “white male culture” that is “devastating” to women and minorities. They were also told that white men should think of themselves as racist, angry, and guilty.
Lockheed Martin is the nation’s largest government contractor, taking tens of billions of dollars a year from the United States government. The fact that it’s using that money to pay someone to berate its own employees, many of whom are patriotic and brilliant engineers and former servicemembers, is abhorrent. And the toxic culture that the company is promoting is devastating to freedom of expression. Anyone who objects to being humiliated for their heritage risks attracting negative attention – and possibly sacrificing their career – on the taxpayers’ dime.
It wasn’t always like this. During the Cold War, Lockheed Martin designed some of the most impressive aircraft in the history of the world. The U-2 high-altitude spy plane. The SR-71 Blackbird, which flew at more than three times the speed of sound. The F-117 Nighthawk, the first aircraft to be nearly invisible to modern radars. Now, the company is best known for the disaster that is the F-35 fighter. Fifteen years after its first flight, the aircraft is still riddled with flaws, and the program wasted $300 million on missing and unusable parts. Maybe if Lockheed Martin didn’t spend so much time attacking its own employees and shutting down their speech, it could get around to doing its job.
Lockheed Martin has a 2ndVote score of just 2.17. Consumers can’t exactly boycott a defense contractor – but the Department of Defense and Congress certainly can. Americans should demand that the government show this company the door until it returns to its mission of keeping Americans safe.
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