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Wednesday, 22 March 2017 16:48

What would we really get with a wall?

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By Paul Strop • Guest Columnist

Last summer when we returned to this country, the presidential election was in full cry, and almost every day (it seemed) we heard, “lock her up,” and “build a wall.” The first, I assume referred to the candidate’s opponent, and the second, I assume, referred to the rally-goers’ demand for protection.

Walls have been built for centuries by kings, sultans and dictators for the purpose of protecting their territories and their royal cities from marauding armies who would pillage and destroy these cities. Moulay Ismael in the 17th century built walls to protect his royal city of Meknes. Today, thousands of visitors travel to Morocco to marvel at these structures which still stand. The Great Wall of China was built hundreds of years ago for protection against raiders from Eurasia. Millions of tourists every year walk on these existing walls.

In our own continent walls were constructed, for example, in Campeche in Yucatan to protect the townspeople from attacks by British, French and Dutch pirates. In our own country walls were often built around forts to help protect the early settlers. We all know about ‘remember the Alamo.’

So the idea of building a wall for protection is hardly a new concept. However, with the invention of flying machines in the early 20th century, the usefulness of this concept has changed dramatically. After all, it is pretty useless to build a wall around your castle if the marauders can fly over the wall and drop bombs on your head. Today, we have arrived at the 21st century and walls no longer serve to protect us.

The proposal to build a $50 billion wall, I think, involves building a wall between the United States and Mexico. Such a wall would prevent people from crossing the border in either direction. People cross the border from Mexico every day to pick our tomatoes, to work in meat packing plants, and perform jobs which few Americans want but which must be done if we are to eat. The Mexicans arrive mostly by foot, so a wall can prevent them from crossing.  However, we hardly need protection from those picking our tomatoes.

Our enemies, on the other hand, those who wish us harm, will not arrive by foot. They will arrive in airplanes, drones and helicopters. They will be preceded by thousands of ICBMs dropping tons of explosives on our heads. The proposed wall may well protect us from the presence of the tomato picker, but it will not protect us from the ICBMs.  These destructive devices will not come from Mexico, and the wall will not deter them in the slightest.

Nowadays, many tourists visit the wonderful Wall of China, the sturdy walls of Meknes, the fortifications of Campeche and our own fortress of the Alamo. They marvel at these constructions which have stood for centuries, and they ponder the destructive forces they were designed to prevent.  

Thus I can only imagine that one day in a future time, the tourists who come to this country to view the smoking ruins of our cities will also want to view the famous wall.

(Paul Strop lives in Waynesville. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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