“Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall”
The poem “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost was first published in 1914. The first line is the title of this blog essay.
Some of us older folks will remember the outrage in Western Europe and North America, especially, when The Democratic Republic of Germany (communist East Germany) built an ugly wall to keep East Berliners in and West Berliners (and others) out. Two U.S. presidents stood near the wall and called for its demolition: John F. Kennedy (who famously misspoke German by saying to the crowd “Ich bin ein Berliner” which means “I am a donut”) and Ronald Reagan who demanded that Soviet leader Gorbachev “Take down this wall.”
Now we, America, are planning to build a wall of our own. Or are we? According to my congressional representative (as reported in the newspaper) President Trump’s proposed “wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border is not literally a wall. I wonder how many people who voted for Trump knew that? Well, we’ll probably never know.
Still, and nevertheless, it is a “wall” of sorts. The intention and purpose are to keep outsiders out. But I wonder how many people around the world will also think it is to keep insiders in?
Personally, I have always opposed the U.S. government forbidding U.S. citizens to travel anywhere. The travel ban to Cuba kept me from going there as a child—to visit my uncle, aunt, and cousins who lived in Havana. (They returned to the U.S. at the same time, but my family’s travel plan was in place months before it had to be cancelled for political reasons.)
Personally, I have always thought that the best way to bring down Castro’s Soviet-backed government would have been to flood the island with American visitors. Our embargos against Cuba had the opposite effect of what was intended.
*Sidebar: The opinions expressed here are my own (or those of the guest writer); I do not speak for any other person, group or organization; nor do I imply that the opinions expressed here reflect those of any other person, group or organization unless I say so specifically. Before commenting read the entire post and the “Note to commenters” at its end.*
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” And yet many Americans today love a wall that doesn’t yet exist and, even though not a literal wall, will cost a projected five billion dollars.
Some people are claiming that Democrats (which I am not one) want an open border with Mexico—only because they are resisting the funding to build Trump’s dream wall. Actually, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained on television why she and most Democrats oppose it: The money could better be spent to prevent illegal immigration in other ways. I personally don’t know anyone who has ever said that our borders should be open to all who want to cross into America for whatever reason.
One thing I wonder about is this. Imagine that a political or natural disaster crisis occurred in Canada and thousands upon thousands of Canadian men, women and children fled it by crossing the border into the U.S. technically illegally? I wonder how many Americans would be up in arms demanding that a thousands mile long wall be built?
Another thing I wonder about is who really believes a wall, however thick and wide, will really keep desperate Central Americans fleeing probable death in their home countries from finding a way into the U.S.? Already we know of many tunnels from Mexico into the U.S. And there are always the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. We can’t build walls out into them.
I think we Americans are often lacking in the ability or will to take a “longer and larger view” of a problem. Why are so many Central Americans (especially) flooding into the U.S.? Could it have anything to do with our own thirst and hunger for drugs that feeds the drug gangs that dominate certain Central American countries? Could it have anything to do with the images of life in America that we project into the Two Thirds World? Could it have anything to do with the political and social chaos our government helped create in some Central American countries by means of invasions (some of them “covert”)? Could it have mostly to do with people just wanting safety from drug gangs who kill and rape and press young boys and men into their ranks? What if, instead of building a wall, we poured resources into those countries to help them overcome the deadly situations there?
If the wall is ever built I predict it will come to be known as “Trump’s Folly” because it won’t work. And many people around the world (as well as in America) will see it as not that different from the infamous Berlin Wall. (Yes, I know we were told it was to keep East Berliners from escaping to freedom in the West, but there’s another narrative that says it was just as much to keep West Berliners from escaping into East Berlin and East Germany to find employment, free health care, etc.)
Now America’s president, elected by a plurality, not a majority, is threatening to declare a “national emergency” to build the wall without Congress’s funding approval. This would be a quantum leap into dangerous territory called “tyranny.” Viewed differently, it would just be the next logical step in a journey toward that.
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” Predictably someone will respond by quoting the old saying “Good walls make good neighbors.” Not this one. There are so many better ways to be a good neighbor to suffering people south of our border.
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