Trump’s Wall and Its Meaning

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They’re so proud of Trump’s wall, though new sections proved surprisingly easy to cut through

W.J. Astore

I caught this snippet via the New York Times today:

Border wall funding: President Trump plans to divert $7.2 billion from the military for the construction of a wall on the southern border, two people familiar with the plans told The Times. Congress set aside $1.375 billion for it last month.”

Diverting money that’s been appropriated by Congress is an impeachable offense, but the Democrats will do little since they know Trump will spin their opposition as being pro-immigrant and anti-American, irrespective of the lies contained in that spin.

Trump was elected in part through his fear-mongering about immigrants (he spoke of murderers, rapists, gang members, even Muslim terrorists hidden within the “caravans” approaching America’s southern border).  “Build the wall” is a popular chant at his rallies, and Trump knows the issue still stirs up his base.

What’s it all about?  Recently I was reading “Shadow of the Silk Road,” by Colin Thubron.  This is what Thubron had to say about the Great Wall of China:

As a true bulwark the Wall was senseless.  Huns, Mongols, Manchus overswept it almost at will.  The Sinologist Owen Lattimore proposed that it was built to keep the Chinese in rather than the nomads out.  Perhaps, unwittingly, it was less a physical defence than a monstrous definition.  It separated civilisation from barbarism, light from darkness.  It was an act of shuddering denial: over there is not what we are.  And it was steeped in fear. [Emphasis in original.]

“Over there is not what we are”: Trump recognizes how “his” wall serves as a dividing line between the “good” people (Americans) versus the “bad hombres” (his term) seeking to “invade” America.  And it is, as Thubron says, both a monstrous definition and an act of shuddering denial.

Of course, the wall already exists, as Greg Grandin notes in his book, “The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America.”  Trump merely wants to lengthen it, mostly in areas where a wall is redundant due to already forbidding terrain.

But the wall is not about protecting America from “hordes” of “invaders.”  It’s about defining America in retrograde ways, contrasting the alleged barbarism of brown-skinned people with the civilization of (mostly) White America.

Walls demarcate and divide.  They are also a denial of common humanity.  They pit us against them in battles over turf.  In short, they’re a perfect symbol for Trump’s vision of greatness.

5 thoughts on “Trump’s Wall and Its Meaning

  1. It’s precisely the fact that the US has become LESS “mostly white” in recent decades that white-supremacist fascists like Trump have seized upon to stoke fear and the hate that comes in its wake. Next time you see a white idiot on the TV news holding a sign reading “Stop the Genocide Against White People,” please understand that that person is deadly serious. Not a character in an Andy Borowitz column or a piece in The Onion, or a skit on “Saturday Night Live.” This is what things have descended to in our country.

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    1. Yes. Trump is responsible for encouraging and fueling this awfulness. Shameful. Another offense that’s far worse than what he’s being impeached for.

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  2. Like it or not, and whatever one thinks of the decision, the US Supreme Court has ruled that Trump may use $2.5 billion from the military budget for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border: https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/454963-supreme-court-rejects-allows-trump-admins-request-to-use-military
    So it’s certainly not an impeachable offence. Perhaps it ought to be, but it isn’t, as things stand. And the President is, after all, the Commander in Chief of the armed forces (the US Government is, when all is said and done, a War Government), so it’s not clear that he doesn’t have the authority to build his ridiculous and disgusting wall as a military project. That would have to be tested in court. But I am disgusted not only by Trump, but by the congressional politicians now pretending to take the moral high ground. They didn’t say much about wall-building on the southern border when it was being carried out by G. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Obama, to his credit, avoided expanding the “wall”, but his grounds were that it was already “complete”, not that it was “a denial of common humanity”; and he was certainly no more receptive to Latin American immigrants who ignore the regular immigration process than Trump, or than his predecessors, like Clinton. (Take time to read through Clinton’s Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.) And of course few, if any, of the congressional swamp-dwellers have a word to say against Israel’s wall to keep the Palestinians out of their own country. Neither of the US parties of bottom-feeders will ever propose impeachment of a President for the high crimes that they would like to retain the freedom to commit themselves, with their own people are in the cat-bird seat, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and summary executive assassination, of which even that nice Mr. (“let us put it behind us”) Obama was as guilty as anyone. So let’s turn the harsh moral light on all of these people—Donald Trump, certainly, but also all of the people and parties who created him and were and are arguably no better than he.

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    1. Yes, I said when Obama first took office there wasn’t a chance in hell he’d pursue Cheney/Bush for their utterly unjustified Regime Change Wars. It’s USA in desperate need of Regime Change!!

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