“Build the wall! Build it now!” they chant.*
I have a number of problems with the wall that the president promised to construct and put it on Mexico’s tab. I’ve written on this before. (See below.) Here are a few more reasons of mine that I believe it’s a really bad idea.
(I mean no disrespect for those who think differently than me. I only wish to give you something more to think about.)
First of all, it’s the president’s irrational campaign promise that his base loves to hear in light of the fear he stokes in his rallies. (It reminds of another national leader obsessed with a shrine to himself.)
It plays well as a symbol and a monument to fear of those on the other side of the wall. The president says repeatedly (that’s his MO, BTW, tell a lie enough times and people get lulled into buying what they weren’t shopping for) that he’s only trying to protect the American people from the horde of criminals and terrorists pouring over the border. That’s the “crisis” he’s invented.
The wall would serve as a sculpture to separation, an artistic representation of bigotry and antipathy toward “the other.” When Mr. Trump compares his wall to the wall around West Bank or when Christians compare it to the wall around Jerusalem it’s comparing apples with moon dust!
Sure, it might help make ICE’s job easier, though not even all border patrol agents agree that it would. Even if it did, at what cost? $5 billion? Is that how we want to spend our resources when our schools suck, millions can’t afford health care, and the homeless problem all over the country is gargantuan and growing by the day?
We already have an internationally recognized monument. She’s not a celebration of fear, but of compassion and hospitality. It’s best-known inscription reads:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
“Your tired, poor, homeless, huddled masses, those yearning to breathe free…” What could better describe those who have made the arduous, life-threatening trek up here from Central America?
A lesser-known earlier part of the poem describes the Lady in the harbor. She’s…
“A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.”
She’s the “Mother of Exiles,” whose torch serves to light the way to a better place, a place with a “world-wide welcome.” Not exactly the message Mr. Trump’s touts and tweets about his wall!
In good conscience we don’t dare display both a statue that says, “Welcome” and a wall that shouts, “Stay out!”
I say if we’re going to build the wall we should tear down the statue and use the materials for the wall. We could then put the savings into educating, feeding, housing, and providing health care for people; with some left over to do some community development where these “tired, poor, huddled masses” are fleeing from. Just a thought.
*(You gotta appreciate the complexity and nuance of the one syllable Trump rally chants: “Lock her up!” “Drain the swamp!” “Build the wall!” What they lack in depth they make up for in cadence and memorability. And if you do forget how they go, for ready reference, they fit nicely on your hat or beer koozie.)
Consider one or more of these: