By the most astounding of circumstances, the leaders of three neighboring countries became stranded on a desert island. It is here that they found a
tree granted, by yet even greater coincidence, three wishes. As civilized men do, they divided the wishes equally, one per person. The tree, impressed
with their peaceful settling of differences, granted them each the bonus wish of being set down safely within their own native country.
Leader X, being of a rather nationalistic bias, wished that his country surrounded by a wall such that none could pass through. The wish was granted;
earth and stone erupted to form an impassable mountain range that encircled his country. None would pass through it. Leader X contentedly returned to
Leader Y, being not nearly as creative as Leader X, but being just as opportunistic, and twice as nationalistic, declared his own wish for an even
stronger, taller wall, such that none could go around, over, or below it. The ground around the city reshaped as all the metal expanded and formed a
solid sphere around the city. Ecstatic that his people would never again fear any invasion, Leader Y returned to his country.
Leader Z, whom had been suggesting the previous wishes, was then asked what he wished for. To which, he wished that their countries be flooded to the
tops of their walls. Leader Z contently returned to his country only to find that the half that hadn’t been flooded had just been crushed under a
giant rolling metal sphere.
Soon America decides whether or not to build a wall around our border.
The problem with walls is that, in addition to keeping people out, they also keep people in. If you surround your country with walls you have, first
and foremost, created a cage the size of a country. Even though a wall may grant you absolute authority over who passes through your side of the wall,
you grant the same authority to your neighbor on the opposite side of it.
Now I’m sure in a place like this I don’t have to even begin to explain what sort of potential political problems and global tension it creates.
If you have taken the time to read this, then I will wager that you are at least vaguely familiar with the Berlin Wall and the Cold War it symbolized.
The Soviet Union and the United States were not enemies when the Berlin Wall went up. In fact, they were allies not on the best of terms during the
signing of Germany’s surrender at the end of World War II.
Early in the morning of Sunday, August 13, 1961, the GDR [ed. East Germany] began under the leadership of Erich Honecker to block off East Berlin and
the GDR from West Berlin by means of barbed wire and antitank obstacles. Streets were torn up, and barricades of paving stones were erected. Tanks
gathered at crucial places. The subway and local railway services between East and West Berlin were interrupted. Inhabitants of East Berlin and the
GDR were no longer allowed to enter West Berlin, amongst them 60,000 commuters who had worked in West Berlin so far. In the following days,
construction brigades began replacing the provisional barriers by a solid wall.
The reaction of the western allies was moderate, since the three essentials of the American policy regarding Berlin were not affected: presence of
allied troops, free access to Berlin and the right of self-determination of the West Berliners.
After 1961-08-23, citizens of West Berlin were no longer allowed to enter East Berlin. On 1961-09-20, the forced evacuation of houses situated
immediately at the border to West Berlin began. On 1962-08-17, Peter Fechter, an eighteen years old citizen of East Berlin, bled to death after he was
shot down by East Berlin border patrol in an attempt to escape over the wall.
On 1963-06-21, the Minister of National Defense of the GDR gave orders concerning the installation of a border area at the frontier between the GDR
and West Berlin. Afterwards inhabitants of East Berlin living within a distance of 100 m to the border had to register.
The GDR propaganda called the wall an "Anti-fascist protection wall".
Perhaps the history of a walled off America will not be so terrible. Perhaps we are more enlightened than our predecessors. We will have still built
for ourselves a cage through which we may only pass if both governments on either side decide to allow it. One loses the physical capability of
leaving or re-entering one’s own country without the express consent of both your own and a foreign government.
Forget for a moment the idea of keeping undesirables out of your country, and instead remember the amount of power that the citizens of both countries
will have just given up.