The “Wall” Image Problem

If people were logical, there wouldn’t even be an issue over the wall. But people are emotional, and their emotions are tied into images.

For Trump and his supporters, the wall is an image of strength and protection against the hordes of immigrants that threaten their vision of America. It doesn’t even occur to them that for most Americans and much of the free world, walls connote a different kind of power and domination, the kind represented by the Berlin Wall and even the Great Wall of China, where between 400,000 and two million people [depending on the historian] died building various iterations of that wall, and which at one point required a million men to defend and maintain it, vainly as it turned out.

Next, there’s the problem with the image of immigrants.  Despite the fact that every single person in the United States, including Native Americans [they just came first], is either an immigrant or the descendent of immigrants, most of them poor, Trump and his wall supporters possess the image of immigrants as greedy and criminal, while most of those who oppose the wall hold to the positive idea of the United States as a land of opportunity for immigrants.

Then, there’s the larger image problem.  Exactly what would building a massive concrete barrier say about the United States?  Would it say that we’re a free and open land?  What kind of power would that convey?  Based on the history of walls and who built them and for what reasons, I’d say that such a wall conveys the idea of dominating great power that places security above all else, a power that will trample human rights for the sake of security, and certainly that’s what we’re seeing with the way the current administration is dealing with immigrants and their children.

What’s one of the most disturbing aspects of this confrontation is that neither side has directly addressed the simple issue of what such a wall says about us as a people, or to what lengths those who want to build that wall will go to obtain that security.

As for whether such a wall would even provide such security, I’ll defer to General George Patton who said, “Fixed fortifications are monuments to man’s stupidity.  If mountain ranges and oceans can be overcome, anything made by man can be overcome.”

18 thoughts on “The “Wall” Image Problem”

  1. JakeB says:

    I believe you meant to write ‘Patton’ rather than ‘Patten’.

    Touching on what it says about us as a people . . . the fact that such a wall would have very little effect on the number of immigrants anyways bespeaks both fear and stupidity on the part of our nation.

    1. Thank you. I’ve corrected it.

  2. Wayne Kernochan says:

    At the risk of sounding frivolous, I would suggest that sarcasm is a good response to this. I have therefore posted a suggestion that the wall be made out of shower curtains. For further details, see

  3. R. Hamilton says:

    Neither Trump nor most others favoring a wall suppose that most immigrants (even the illegal ones, save for the crime of coming here illegally) are “greedy or criminal”. But we do know that a few murders, fatal accidents, etc, would not have happened if the illegals weren’t here; since we don’t know anything about those not caught, nor necessarily enough about those caught and released, we can’t select to minimize that risk. It’s not necessary to overstate that to note that even one potentially avoidable fatality is too many, even if that’s an unachievable ideal.

    Without sensors and patrols, a wall is useless; no fortification, UNLESS MANNED to some degree, is a significant obstacle. But without a wall, the patrols will at best catch a fraction after they’ve already crossed; and with facilities and courts overloaded, that tends to be catch-and-release. A wall buys some time to respond, to stop at least some before they cross; it adds difficulty to those attempting illegal entry. Alternatively, it reduces from impossibly large, to perhaps not impossibly large, the manpower needed to deter or interdict most illegal entry.
    And while I don’t particularly _care_ about the optics of a wall (I’d be just fine with it if nobody but conservative capitalists – of whatever ethnicity – wanted to come here!), I’d note that there’s a VAST difference between a wall designed not even to keep everyone out, just to add some control over who enters, vs a wall intended to keep people in against their will. It would never be the latter; indeed, I invite all the leftists that promised to leave if Trump won to fulfill their promise, even after the wall is built. By my informal count, none have actually left, so their rants were obviously about propaganda, not integrity.

    1. Daze says:

      Equally, there is no evidence that more than a handful of people have ever actually left a country when taxes are increased, despite huge threats to do so whenever an increase is proposed. Idle and unimplementable threats make up way too much of public discourse.

    2. Rehcra says:

      How exactly does this amazing Wall allow people to go out but not come in? And if you say it has doors with push bar technology I am going to be disappointed…… but I’ll probably laugh.


      1. R. Hamilton says:

        You can leave at any designated crossing point, or by boat, at a shoreline; or by aircraft. There’s simply no authority to stop you leaving, except for airport security if you’re on the no-fly list, or maybe if you don’t have a passport because you’re a felon or flight risk. You’ll probably need a passport (and some places a visa too) to be accepted anywhere else, but that’s your problem.

        Even if some quite hypothetical (as long as the left doesn’t get all the power it wants!) future tyrant wanted to keep Americans from leaving, nobody is proposing a wall on the much longer northern border, nor along the coasts; so a wall on the southern border wouldn’t do much to make that enforceable.

        If it’s inconvenient that you can’t leave directly from your property adjoining the border, that’s just too bad. If we weren’t being invaded, I wouldn’t see the point of a wall, but since we are, inconvenience (as contrasted with a more significant restriction on the liberty of the only people our government is supposed to be responsible to, our own citizens) is not a compelling argument.

    3. Shannon says:

      R. Hamilton, what I get from your post is that the illegality of the entry overwhelms any other argument. You don’t care if illegal entrants contribute to our society or not. You don’t care that these people are fleeing atrocious conditions. You don’t care that illegal entry is close to an all-time low. All you care about is that they didn’t follow the rules. You’re willing to throw ridiculous amounts of money at a minor bit of rule breaking.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        Yes, you’ve pretty much got it, except that as DC $$ go, $5.7 billion is pocket change, and a physical barrier is probably cheaper than massive manpower to achieve the results.

        I only want those admitted that it’s FIRST in our compelling interests to admit in terms of disruptive shortages of skills that are both essential and offer a path to future opportunity (unskilled labor not so much, I think), and only THEN that it’s also in their interests.

        Except from the most egregious cases of genocide (if it’s even feasible for us to act, which it wasn’t always, e.g. Stalin or Mao), the fate of foreigners abroad in and of itself is secondary to the interests of our own citizens, or at least should be to our government, although you or anyone else are free to donate goods or services to any peaceable people that you’re concerned about.

        1. … what makes the difference to border security isn’t a physical barrier, but the manpower. So what’s the point of wasting money on a barrier when you’ll need the manpower anyway?

  4. Ian Rowan says:

    As for the comment that the indians were here first, i am sorry to disappoint your outdated information, but the latest digs have revealed that european cavemen/women were here at least 5,000 years before the migration of the american indians, having come over the ice shelves at the time, some 15 to 20,000 years ago. Also, from a comment that LEM made about those darn republicans trying to keep minorities from voting, i will direct your attention to a youtube video by ami horowitz and his interesting interviews, contrasting talking with the creme de liberal creme at berekely and their patronizing attitude towards those blacks who dont have phones, internet, or know where their polling place is, and his going to harlem and talking with blacks regarding voting and registering for voting; i think you will find yourself surprised.

    As for the wall, this is terribly amusing, because i dont know of any other country as lax as we are about security. I recall the “sage” matt damon talking about moving to australia to get away from trump, trumpians and their xenophobic wall idea, which is amusing considering that, australia is so strict, that if you are caught on their “walled country”, think island, you are forever banned from getting citizenship. But yes, we are terrible for wanting control over who comes into our country, even when latest estimates are 30 plus million illegals, who btw, folks, dont have health insurance and use emergency rooms as their doctor. Want to know how many billions of dollars that illegals are costing the healthcare industry? Reminds me of those interviews i suggested you watch, but wont, where they ask these “brilliant” liberal college kids, who are abhorred at the idea of a wall, ok exactly how many should just come on in? 10 million? 100 million? 1 billion? you write about countries, economies, ideologies, well what country survives with tens and hundreds of millions of people from markedly different socities and ideologies? what does that country become? if you pay attention, what is happening in europe?

    As for dazes comment about people leaving due to high taxes, i suggest you look into france, they have lost billions from people leaving every year for the last 5 years. Where do you get there is no evidence? please do research for bleeps sakes.

    1. So… there were some European immigrants before the Asian immigrants? By the way, that information is still being evaluated, but even if it proves to be true, and it well might, they were still immigrants, which was the point… not which immigrants got here first. And if some “liberals” prove to be bigots, what else is new? They aren’t the ones trying to change voting requirements to disenfranchise minorities. Your “information” misses the point, which is often what I’ve observed by both the far left and far right.

      1. Wayne Kernochan says:

        I think you are referring to the Solutrean Hypothesis. Here’s what Adam Rutherford (A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, c 2017) has to say about it and other such theories: “None of these hold water with the application of the slightest scientific scrutiny, but they make for thrilling TV documentaries.” In pages 128-142, Rutherford provides a short summary of what we do know and the best hypotheses of how migration actually happened. Iirc, the best supported theory now is that migration from Siberian Asia occurred some time after 40 kya, resulting in a single small population near the northern Pacific coast that did not migrate further (the Beringian Standstill)until 16 kya or a little later.

      2. Ian Rowan says:

        “some liberals prove to be bigots” lol. I guess im the only one observing what has been occurring for the last two years. The gillete commercial is a small illustration of it, as is the treatment of the covington kids. If you are white, male and straight, you are the enemy, period. You should bow out of existence, apologizing the entire way, you should celebrate the feminization of boys, and the current lauding of transvestite boys, to demolish the “toxic masculinity”. What is toxic masculinity? anything the left tells you it is. No mention of any other sort of “toxicity”, certainly no female toxicity, or the blatant racism of black lives matter, or the black hebrews who harassed the covington kids. I guess it was ok for everyone from new media, to “celebrities” to your average psychotic leftist to threaten to murder the kids, their families, blow their school up…but wait, then the full footage is released and the kids were the ones attacked by the hebrews and the indians, and what does the tolerant left do? well certainly not apologize, afterall the leftiest progressive way is the correct way, the rest are just nazis and kkk, so instead they say well they shouldnt wear maga hats, because of course that equates with the aforementioned nazis and kkk.

        You are correct, thought, it is irrelevant who got here first, but that is always brought up by the left isnt it? But i am very curious as to what voting requirements are going to disenfranchise minorities. I am guessing you didnt watch ami on the street and the video about that, well why would you? you are correct, right?

        1. Hannabel says:

          Ian, my impression of you & all I’m getting from you is far right wing extremist, supremist ideology.

          There’s no sugar coating it, no matter how much ‘Logical’ your so called facts, statements & the rest of the BS you preach.

          Fact is, You detest immigration & immigrants of any kind; with the exception of specific Western European blocs (a popular thing with tRumpbots) others should stay the F away.

          And that goes for your comrades of the same position; R.Hamilton, Tom, etc.

  5. Corwin says:

    I think beloved American poet Robert Frost said it best in his poem ‘Mending Wall’. If you’ve never read it, go find a copy; it’s brilliant.

    1. I actually thought about the Frost poem at the time I wrote the blog, and, in a way, I said something similar to Frost, because there are two different images of stone walls in the poem, that of Frost and that of his neighbor.

    2. Thank you for pointing out the excellent and apt Robert Frost poem, which somehow I had missed despite liking other poems of his. His poem “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,” which I once memorized, finally emerged from copyright on January 1st.

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