De Vos: Tumbling down (column)
April 27, 2017
History is chock-full of walls that ultimately failed to achieve their intended goal. This started 10,000 years ago. The president should ask his advisor Pat Robertson how that Walls of Jericho thing turned out.
I guess he slept through that history part where the Mongols eventually poured through the Great Wall of China. Chinese emperors spent 2,000 years building a wall that invaders breached in an historical moment.
And someone should tweet him how a depleted Soviet Union walked away from the Berlin Wall. Hadrian's Wall was so lousy at keeping Scots out of Britain that folks forgot why they built it in the first place, finally tearing it down to build their homes.
Doubtlessly you remember the First Peloponnesian War when Xerxes invaded Greece back in 480 BCE. At enormous cost, Greeks built the Athenian Long Walls around Athens. Supplied by sea, the city held out for a long time until the Spartan navy sank the Greek navy and starved them out. Walls did not save them.
Walls are old-school thinking that went out of fashion when cannons came into vogue, sometime mid-1300 CE. Any wall will be breached somehow.
The president praised Israel's wall, but it's hard to know which wall he meant. Israel has walled and fenced out Egypt, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai and most famously the West Bank. And despite our president's claim that Israel's walls are 99.9% effective, there are an estimated 60,000 undocumented Palestinian border crossings annually. Meanwhile, Hamas has developed rockets and tunnels that easily defeat or bypass the barrier. This wall has hardly brought them peace; rather they've fought three wars there since 2006.
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Free movement across the border is not just about people. I grew up in Tucson and spent a lot of time in southern Arizona, camping, hiking, hunting and fishing along the area where the wall would be built. It's a mystical place, a fragile ecosystem and ancient grounds to myriad desert creatures, javelina, black bear, deer, jaguar, jackrabbits, coatimundi, tortoises and one of the oddest birds ever, the roadrunner. It's sad to think of the damage a physical wall and its construction will bring to their habitats, migrations and traditional territories. I fear it will bring an end to much of it and I feel strongly we have no right to do that.
Why are we building a wall anyway? Because it was a campaign slogan? Keeping drugs out of America? Mr. president, the opioid deluge in America is threatening to engulf Mexico! Are we keeping undesirables out? The terror attacks on American soil over the last 15 years have largely been committed by homegrown Americans, not radical Islamists swimming across the Rio Grande.
Why does the burden of enforcement fall mainly on the individual whose crime is seeking a better life? Just as culpable, if not more so, is the employer who turns a blind eye to hiring laws.
A better approach to border control should come from Congress and sensible immigration laws and policies. Too much of American economy is dependent upon Hispanic labor. Strengthen the borders electronically; technically still a wall, then photo-op yourself on a Border Patrol ATV sporting a banner "Mission Accomplished".
It'll go great on Hannity.