A recent opinion piece, originally published in the Arizona Republic and picked up by USA Today, offers some inane commentary disguised as ‘historical fact,’ about President Trump’s proposed border wall.
The piece is titled “Trump’s Border Wall Future: Tourist Trap that Pays for Itself in 2,000 Years.” Its basic premise is that, “The Great Wall of China cost many lives, was enormously expensive and didn’t work even back then with no technology. But it did draw foreign visitors.” If that sounds like revisionist claptrap, that’s because it is.
As FAIR has noted, the Great Wall of China worked, just like most of the other walls built in antiquity and more recently. The Great Wall was never intended to be a border barrier. It was built as a static defensive position for Chinese military forces. And it was breached only when a treasonous general opened the gates and let in the invading Manchu. Although the Manchu expanded Chinese borders beyond the wall, for centuries they continued to use it as a defensive bulwark.
The assertion that the Great Wall’s real value lies in its recent use as a tourist attraction demonstrates a lack of historical knowledge and a poor understanding of defense budgeting. The Great Wall was expensive, in terms of blood and treasure. But, overall, it seems to have been a wise investment for the Ming Dynasty, since the Manchu couldn’t breach it without help from the inside. Walls can’t defend against treachery. But when manned by trustworthy sentinels, they do tend to keep the bad guys out.
Why does the author claim that modern walls don’t work? He notes that most of the images of the Trump administration’s prototype walls have been taken with drones and cites this as proof that, “modern technology beats walls.”
Of course, that conveniently ignores the security fencing clearly visible in the drone images, which kept photographers from getting close to the sample walls. (A logical observer might take that as clear evidence that physical barriers do, in fact, work rather well. Especially when they are constructed correctly.) It also ignores the fact that while technology may make it easier to look over walls, there hasn’t been a plague of high-tech catapults chucking illegal aliens over the San Diego border fence.
Then he throws out this doozer: “Besides, it is well documented that most border intrusions are done through regular crossing points.” Really? By definition “border intrusions” are crossings made at locations other than official portals. Inadmissible aliens who manage to worm their way into the U.S. at official crossings do so by fraud. They haven’t made an intrusion – they’ve actually been admitted to the U.S., but obtained admission by deceiving immigration officials. No one with half a brain expects a border wall to eliminate fraud.
Building a wall along the southern border is a major undertaking. And, because we live in a democracy, plans for a wall should be vigorously debated. But meaningful debate requires facts. And even clearly labeled opinion columns should be based on facts, not emotional gibberish.