Thursday, November 12, 2009

Connecting the dots of history: Walls

This week's media around the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall was surprisingly scant with comparisons to our current U.S.-Mexico border policy. Very rarely was there any substantive contrast between the celebration of freedom in Germany and its antithesis: 700 miles of border wall in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. Sure, the wall in East Germany and the wall on the U.S Southern border had/have different aims (keeping people in/out), but is it really any different?
The fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago signaled a sea change in international policy and kick started a period of unprecedented global openness. While the border wall does not have this same public resonance, stopping its construction would be a first step toward creating a new environmental consciousness within the U.S. government. This sea change would prove no less significant than that which occurred after the fall in Germany. The last 20 years have seen international barriers shrink on an unprecedented scale; the next 20 must see environmental consciousness of the same scale.

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The surprising inability of the media to make connections between the Berlin Wall and the Border Wall was striking. Both were outgrowths of twisted ideology, ignoring the actual destruction done to communities. Recent photos of the damage done in south Texas can be seen here:
Making it easier for the press to pick up on the obvious was the exhibition of photos of the border wall and its environmental impacts, set up in the Russel Senate office building for two weeks to coincide with the anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall.
One would hope that when they are confronted with photographic evidence of the actual impacts of their votes for walls, Senators would think twice before forcing more upon the border. Judging from today's Washington Times article, that is clearly too much to ask.