Friday, October 27, 2006

The U.S.-Mexico Border Fence

Remember my earlier post on Dana Goldstein's article about the scarcity of women commenting on politics in the media? In that I quoted Goldstein writing this bit after listing some women she thinks are good commenters:

But even these women seem to be tokens. Most of the time, they haven't covered horserace electoral politics, the Iraq War, weapons proliferation, the anti-immigration fence, or any of the other hardball national political topics that op-ed pages prioritize in this time of wars and midterms.

I wrote down all those hardbally things into a shopping list format, and I'm going to write on all of them, though to be fair to me I have already written about the immigration problems and the Iraq war.

Hence the anti-immigration fence topic for this post. So what do I think about it?

As a practical solution it's inane. It might work if human beings couldn't climb, or if we equipped it with military towers every mile or so, staffed by gun-carrying border guards told to shoot at first sight of an illegal immigrant. But then the fence would be utterly unethical.

The walls in history which have worked (The Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall) were guarded day and night. Those walls also had advantages the U.S.-Mexico border fence does not: The Great Wall was meant to stop invading troops which would have had not just men but animals and gear, both of which would make wall-climbing harder, and the Berlin Wall was in an urban area and only needed to span a short distance. As far as I can tell from the pictures this new fence is going to be a chain-linked one (fairly easy to climb or to cut through) and will run in uninhabited areas. No illegal immigrant is going to be stopped by the fence if they aren't already stopped by the idea of walking across the hot and waterless areas, guided by criminal smugglers.

As a symbolic solution the fence is great. It looks like a great victory to every foreigner-hating or foreigner-fearing Murkan patriot and it's going to give lots of money to whatever Republican company gets the job of building it.

That's my feminine opinion of the anti-immigration fence. It's hard to think that writing about it is seen as paying proper attention to hardball politics of great importance. Because it is a very silly topic.