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Keep Comparisons Straight: Great, Not Berlin

Last week when I signed into WordPress, I came across this posting:

The New Berlin Wall?

from the Exodus blog at http://alexisokeowo.wordpress.com/. The author states that she believes that the anti-immigration wall on the US-Mexico border is the new Berlin Wall.

While I agree the wall is a very bad concept on a number of levels and while I’m personally for open borders, I believe Ms. Okeowo is using the wrong comparison.

The Berlin Wall was built to keep people in. Many people were desperate to leave East Germany for lives in the West. The leaders of East Germany were fearful that without a wall, they would lose their citizenry and probably their power. As they did in fact in 1989 when the wall came down.

The US built border wall is intended to keep people out. As a society, we feel like we have it good and we don’t feel like having people walk in whenever they like. So we built a wall in the tradition of the Great Wall of China and Hadrian’s Wall in Great Britain. Neither wall fulfilled the dream of keeping out the undesireables and neither will ours.

This post may seem picky, but I think it is important to cite historical precedents that are the closest comparisons possible, particularly when different choices make our point better.

I recommend reading Ms. Okeowo’s post because it does point out a number of practical problems with the border wall that exist regardless of one’s political views.

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