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Now There’s a Wall Between Us, Something There’s Been Lost…

Photo Source Jonathan McIntosh | CC BY 2.0


“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,”
writes old man Frost, and, “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out, / And to whom I was like to give offence.”  Surely, wisdom as wise as the Golden Rule itself.  But, as with the Rule, not everyone sees it that way. Take President Donald J. Trump, our golden ruler.  He loves walls. He says his first wall moment was when he all-but swindled his way into his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago estate in 1985.  He offered the owners, who had the estate on the market, $25 million, which they turned down. So he threatened to buy property next to Mar-a-Laga and put up a wall that would block their view of the ocean. In a panic, they ended up selling the estate to Trump for $8 million.

“That was my first wall,” he told the Post. “That drove everybody nuts. They couldn’t sell the big house because I owned the beach, so the price kept going down and down.” One of the first things Trump did was to replace the relatively modest hanging portrait of the previous owners with one of his own: “Trump is depicted as a bronzed, blond-haired god, or, as a plaque at the bottom of the frame proclaims, ‘The Visionary’.”

Most recently, our blonde-haired god surprised Spain with his ‘vision-thing’ of a wall spanning the Sahara to keep out migrants.  Josep Borrell, Spain’s foreign minister, at the risk of adding to climate change woes, tried to take some of the me-vain gas out of the golden boy’s balloon ride by informing him that the Spanish span would be some 3000 miles, about 500 miles more than the width of America.

Not long ago in Scotland, Trump brought out the worst (or the best, depending on how you look at it) by trying to ‘evict’ some local residents from property near his golf complex in aptly-named Menie.  When they wouldn’t be evicted, Trump pulled his Mar-a-Laga trick and put up trees to obscure their view. Locals seem to have returned the favor by emplacing a series of “ugly” wind turbines in the sea over which Trump’s golf estate looks. Similarly,  In Ireland, Trump’s plans for a wall at his coastal golf course in Clare County, upset locals who feared it would harm wildlife. And it was also meant to keep Limerick residents out. Some of the latter managed some choice words in response. Walls to keep people out.

Of course, this thing about walls is not always so chucklesome or so explicit.  Take the Sunni/Shia war in Yemen. The Saudis have built a wall along the 1000-mile border with Yemen. This not only keeps Shia riff-raff (almost all of them, by Saudi standards) from crossing into Saudi Arabia, but keeps them locked in as well. Yemeni ports have been closed by the Saudis since 2015.  There is nowhere to go, and little food or medical aid, as Saudi and Emerati jets and drones drop American-made bombs and missiles on fish-in-a-barrel civilians — women, children, even Doctors Without Borders.  So indiscriminate is this campaign at times that even innocent American citizens have been taken out  — by Americans. It gives one pause, in this the 50th anniversary of the My Lai massacre. Trump doesn’t mind what goes on behind closed walls or minds. When he was recently kow-towing in the Kingdom he signed an agreement, begun under Obama, to provide another $350 billion in arms sales to keep hate alive in the Middle East. Walls to keep people in.

Last year Trump became the first sitting US president to stand before the “so amazing” Wailing Wall in beloved Israel. (The wall let’s you touch it and everything.) And one thing Trump is, depending upon what your definition of is is, is touchy. No doubt, he immediately wanted to buy it, or have one of his own.  You can bet there was no wailing or gnashing of his picket fence white teeth for the Palestinians that live a walled-in existence in Gaza or the occupied territories.

Word is, from an anonymous source, that he’s thinking of purchasing the Vietnam Memorial in Washington.  That way he can visit it with his chin up. But first he’ll have to have it re-etched, deleting the names of all the ‘Nam vets, and replacing them with all the names of those ‘elites’ who dodged the draft and eluded a tour in ‘Nam. A special section will bear those who went on to become Commander-in-Chiefs.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, but Trump ain’t that something.

Some people argue that Trump is trying to build, at the Mexican border, a new Berlin Wall.  It was good for keeping people out (the Democratic West) and excellent for keeping people in (the fascist commie East). It offended everyone. It especially offended the citizens of East Berlin, some of whom managed to escape in a brain drain surge, while the lives of many others were cut down trying to scale the wall.  So paranoid did the GDR authorities become at the prospect of losing their best brains to the West that their not-so-secret secret police, the Stasi, made it their mission to read the minds of those forced to stay behind in the dingy doldrums of the GDR. Everyone was jubilant when the wall finally came down, symbol of tyranny and all that, and the wonderful West was quick to capitalize on the fall, selling chunks of the wall as keychain souvenirs within. Freedom, right? Or as Dylan sang, “It’s easy to see without looking too far that not much is really sacred.”

But the real lode Mother Russia (foster, of course) was the trove of secret database materials that tracked the doings and thinkings of citizens throughout concentration city. Anyone caught thinking about going Beyond the Wall was subject to interrogation and torture. As Amnesty International points out,  it’s a cautionary tale, “The Snowden revelations suggest the NSA can collect 5 billion records of mobile phone location a day and 42 billion internet records – including email and browsing history – a month.”  To get a sense of what information they already can collect on you, whether your a terrorist or not, simply type in: myactivity.google.com (google account holders). Imagine the Internet not as a leap to Freedom but as a firewall locking you into Paranoiaville.  Once again, as our ig-Nobel monster songster Dylan sang so presciently all them years ago: “If my thought-dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine.”  And Trump would probably volunteer to do it, Bob.

Speaking of Google and their ‘do no evil’ hypocritical oath, they are busy making the Stasi look like lightweight heel-grinders by comparison.  Most recently, Google has been discovered to be helping to build and reinforce the Great Firewall of China, a process that, like as with the Stasi, includes not only snuffing out ‘free thought’ searches, but also keeping track of those who try to escape over the firewall to places like…America, home of Exceptionalism.  Of course, such a Google-led system in China is a great place for the company, with its close ties to the NSA, to construct a template for totalitarian control of a populace. China’s Great Wall, 13,000 miles long, and built to keep out Genghis Khan and his barbarian ilk, was an inspiration to Donald Trump.  You can’t get Great Wall chunks on ebay, but when I visited the Wall a few years back, a yak came along and shat on my shoe in a chunky souveniring kind of way I will always treasure (sorry, no pix).

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall; they’re going up everywhere, while Trump has his ‘lover’s quarrel with the world’.  According to The Atlantic’s Uri Friedman, “Of the 51 fortified boundaries built between countries since the end of World War II, around half were constructed between 2000 and 2014.”  Trump must be loving it.

He must be loving it so much that you can picture him going into a Walmart (natch) and trying to con the franchisee in to putting up pictures of his favorite worldly walls on a far wall of the store, which he promises to make customers pay to build.  If the proprietor should be silly enough to refuse, Trump could pull a Mar-a-Laga and threaten to obscure the view of the wall of guns covering the opposite wall. You can almost feel the gunseller’s panic ensue.

All of this brings us back to Trump’s Mexican Wall, for which I have a modest proposal.  Trump could offer to resolve the trade war with China by offering to by up, let’s say, 400 miles of their precious wall. Trump could point out that ‘they owe us one’, since we shipped to them thousands of tons of steel at a  discount price shortly after the Twin Towers fell. That leaves about 400 miles to go. Trump could whisper sweet nothings into Angela Merkel’s ear walls, promising to forgive Germany’s underpayment for US military protection if she could part ways with, say, 100 miles of the defunct Berlin Wall. That would leave just 300 miles needed.  Trump could sign an executive order that would rescind the right to own human-killer guns (AR-15s, handguns) and gather them all up, fusing them together at the Mexican border in an iconoclastic postmodern statement of God knows what. Side by side — the Guns, the Great Wall, and the Berlin Wall: Who would want to cross the border into what might lay behind that kind of modern art?

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall

Mostly these days Trump must be climbing the walls of the Oval Office (only to discover they have ears) and thinks, ‘the ears have walls’, and he pictures impermeable cell membranes, and cries, “Os Mosis — who are you?” Or some other Crazytown shit. And now, as the walls build up around him —  anonymous op-eds, pussygates all over America — “fabulous” walls of his own making, a twisted and endless maze, down which he moves “like an old-stone savage armed,” chasing his own echo, and comes to a final wall, a mirror of mirrors, where our golden-haired minotaur flings a chunk of his ego, and watches as everything comes crashing down around him, a Tarantino ending, with himself, and reveals: the minotaur is the maze: the final offense.

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John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelancer based in Australia.  He is a former reporter for The New Bedford Standard-Times.

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