Universal Balance: One wall falls, another takes its place

Berlin Wall 1961On Monday, Jon Fleischman wrote about his trip to the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara to commemorate the 20th anniversary of President Reagan’s June 12, 1987 address in Berlin. That got me thinking, which can be dangerous to Republicans from time to time.

On August 13, 1961, Berlin was cut in two by a concrete wall. The purpose of the wall: to hinder the people of socialist East Germany from fleeing into the normal world. The wall was constantly perfected and strengthened, transformed from a normal wall into a system of impassable technical hindrances of traps, elaborate signals, concrete shooting cells, watchtowers, anti-tank tetrahedrons, “hedgehogs” and self-firing guns, which killed the fugitives without the intervention of the border guards.

Ronald Reagan - June 12, 1987President Ronald Reagan, Berlin - June 12, 1987

Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent… those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers… General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

U.S./Mexico Border WallOC Congressman John Campbell – 9/14/06

“Construction of a security fence is a critical step in the fight to gain control of our southern border. Our porous borders are being exploited by illegal aliens, drug traffickers, human smugglers, and even terrorists. The 700 miles of fencing along with the vehicle barriers and surveillance technology included in this bill will be a vital infrastructure upgrade along the border that will help stop these illegal crossings.”

“Obviously there is much more that needs to be done to fully address illegal immigration. This bill is a significant victory for those of us who are deeply concerned about this issue. But it is just one of the many bricks that must be put in place to build a broad immigration enforcement strategy.”

Since the early days of civilization, humankind has erected walls to either keep people out or keep them in.  Whether it was the Great Wall in China, or castle walls in Europe during the Middle Ages, walls were used to enclose regions or mark territorial boundaries. Beyond their defensive utility value many walls also had important symbolic functions — representing the status and independence of the communities they embraced. Today we have walls in the United States along our southern border with Mexico, but no wall on the Canadian border in the north.  We have the walls being built to enclosed Palestinian territories in Israel, but no longer have walls in Eastern Europe. Come to think of it there are not any countries other than Israel and the United States that have found the need to build walls to prevent emigration or immigration.

In reflecting on the comments of Congressman Campbell from Newport Beach, who represents a district without an international border, yet whose residents employ hundreds if not thousands of undocumented immigrants as domestic workers and day laborers, I can think of only one phrase that would have made his remarks complete…

Mr. President, build us this wall.