The wall debate is a perfect illustration of different rhetorical patterns between ideological viewpoints. Wall supporters are now comparing ALL walls in order to connect the logic of good walls to a Mexican wall : “Heaven has a wall,” “People in gated communities have a wall,” “Parking garages have walls!,” “Obama has a wall!” (he doesn’t but when did the truth factor in?). Their point being that walls are common and necessary measures of sensible safety (Humpty Dumpty notwithstanding).
Opposition to the Mexican border wall called it “immoral” and a defensive posture followed on the right that has derailed the debate. Now the conversation is about the merit of structures themselves and not the effectiveness or authentic intentions behind them.
Often the best way to determine a future outcome is to look at historical outcomes. When applied to building walls that narrative reveals consistent reasons and results.
The most famous wall east of China that I can think of is Wall Street. That historical event may, in fact, be the best comparison to a wall on our southern border with Mexico. And Wall Street didn’t work.
The Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam build a wall on the north side of their island (now Manhattan) to protect themselves from Native Americans, pirates and the British. Well…the “hostiles” simply went around the wall and entered from the water. The wall came down and is now called Wall Street.
History is peppered with big, long, walls to isolate, segregate and protect. The Great Wall of China was built to serve the purpose of protection but eventually failed when it was breached by the Mongols. Primarily, however, it was ineffective because the Ming Dynasty that built it, failed from within. Rebellion and civil disorder was exacerbated by their containment.
The Maginot Line was a failure because the French considered the Ardennes impassable to tanks, and that proved to be incorrect.
The Berlin Wall only served to repress and segregate people, often families. I seem to recall a certain Republican President calling for that wall to be torn down on moral grounds. And it was.
The Romans (Hadrian) built a wall to keep the Scots from entering the south. That was a good idea only if you believe in the ethnic homogeneity the Romans were protecting.
Ethnic Homogeneity….could that be the sub current of border walls? If so, then the “immoral” argument is sound.
Any gradation of ethnic cleansing, however, will be roundly denounced by those supporting a wall, but it cannot come as a shock when the subject is broached. If we look at the President’s rhetoric that started it all: “They (Mexico) are not sending their best” and compare it against the facts, the moral argument takes root.
The facts are: A lower percentage of criminal activity among immigrants (including illegal immigrants) than native-born US citizens; economic contributions from undocumented immigrants (1% more revenue added to the GDP); lowering numbers of illegal border crossings (without new fencing and walls) since 2007; the majority of drug traffic into the US does not come from people crossing on foot with only a 20% success rate; terrorists enter legally, elsewhere; and 80% of the US border is ocean or Canada….
Draw your conclusions.