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Good fences, bad fences

This morning on NPR, Daniel Schorr opined about fences and walls. He quoted liberally from the classic Robert Frost poem (a poet that, as a New Hampshirite, I am legally required to be very familiar with), and discussed some famous walls in recent history: the Berlin wall, the planned walls in Baghdad, a potential fence along the US southern border, Israel's walls along the Palestinian territories, and so on. His conclusion: they tend to be bad.

It was a very simplistic explanation, but just a little too simple. I think I can take Mr. Schorr's idea (one that has a lot of support, I've noticed) and improve on it, make it more accurate with just the slightest modification:

Bad walls keep people in. Good walls keep people out.

The Berlin Wall was not intended to defend against an invasion. It was a prison wall. Its defenses were all aimed at those contained within it, to keep them from fleeing. And if they tried, they were killed -- and the bodies often left where they fell as grim reminders.

The other walls are the opposite type. They are designed to keep people out.

More specifically, to keep those who are outside of it to only enter in certain places, where entry can be regulated. The people within the walls have decided that unrestrained entrance is dangerous to them, and wish to impose some controls on who comes in -- and how.

And in all three cases, with good reason.

One of the most fundamental definitions of a nation is clearly-defined borders. And one of the most fundamental rights of any nation is to control those borders, to be the arbiter of who can and can not enter.

Walls are not lovely things. They are not nice things. But they are necessary things.


Comments (8)

Wonder if Mr. Schorr, as a ... (Below threshold)

Wonder if Mr. Schorr, as a member of the self-anointed elite media, has walls around his house to keep the riff-raff away.

Walls are not lovely thi... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Walls are not lovely things. They are not nice things. But they are necessary things.

Good, bad, necessary or not, walls are temporary solutions that don't really address primary causes. But sometimes you need them, I suppose, when you need more time to figure out how to solve a problem. Kinda like using sandbags during a flood.

I personally don't think that a wall along the US-Mexico border is going to really keep people from coming here, as long as there are certain economic and political forces still at work on both sides of the border. But hey, putting up a massive million dollar wall sure looks like something is being done, doesn't it?

Protective security walls c... (Below threshold)
horse:

Protective security walls can not do the job alone, but they are really good effectiveness multipliers that leverage human resources.

You can either keep not securing the border, put 200k troops patrolling the border, or build walls/barriers and staff it with 20k agents. Which is overall cheaper?

Before answering look at the death and monetary toll the US is bearing due to an unsecured border.

I get amused by those who w... (Below threshold)
RG:

I get amused by those who whine that "a wall (actually fencing) won't work, it won't work, it really won't work!"

How do you know this for sure since it's never really been tried in our country except for a few small areas, where it has indeed worked. See the San Diego fence. Will it stop all illegals from crossing our southern border? Of course not but it will likely cut the flow down to a more managable level.

Thanks to Jorge Bush and his desire to move half of Mexico and Central America (see SPP/NAU) into the USA to "Latinize" us (against the desire of most Americans, for they are more worthy and noble than us mere Anglos), we have today between 2,000 and 3,000 illegal crossing the southern border EACH AND EVERY DAY (according to Border Patrol estimates).

If fencing does go up to any substantial degree, it will send a signal to our "good friends and neighbors" to the south that yes, we have a little pride too and we're not gonna sit back and let another nation colonize us with a smile on their face.

Look folks, Mexico is a wealthy nation, among the wealthiest in the world, it ranks in the top dozen or so. It has no excuses for it's pathetic economic performance other than entrenched corruption, family connections and the tiny percentage of elites who run the country and keep all the wealth in the hands of their families. A fence will also likely help Mexico to get it's economic/political house in order so as long as they keep sending their peasants and we receive them, Mexico's ruling class has no need to reform.

That man is so old I'm amaz... (Below threshold)
CSH:

That man is so old I'm amazed he can still write a coherent article. Strike the coherent.

Why is it that the Great Wa... (Below threshold)
Morrissimo:

Why is it that the Great Wall of China seems to always be absent from the lists of walls in these "walls are good/bad" discussions? I'm no expert on ancient China, so I can't comment on the efficacy or lack thereof of the Great Wall at its intended purpose. It has simply struck me several times as an odd absence from these (seemingly more frequent) "walls" discussions. I'm just sayin'.

And in the interests of disclosure: yes, I'd support a wall along our entire southern border, for pretty much the reason succinctly summed up in Mr. Tea's "good walls/bad walls" rationale.

The Great Wall of China wor... (Below threshold)
Matt:

The Great Wall of China worked quite well for many generation. So did Hadrian's Wall in Britain. They worked so long as the walls were maintained and manned appropriately. As soon as the governments stopped the maintenance and manning the walls with enough soldiers, the barbarians overcame those walls.

The people that complain about walls/fences not working are the same ones generally that don't want anything done.

They won't give up their gated communities, walled schools, fenced yards, etc. Our society uses walls and fences quite extensively and if they didn't work, we'd quit using them.

Daniel Schorrs political cr... (Below threshold)
Billll:

Daniel Schorrs political credentials go back to when he was a cub reporter writing puff pieces on Lennins heroics at the storming of the Winter Palace.




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