Opinion | The Myth of the Border Wall – By Greg Grandin – The New York Times

By Greg Grandin
Mr. Grandin is a professor of history.

Feb. 20, 2019, 383
Credit Rose Wong

“All nations have borders, but only the United States has had a frontier — or at least a frontier that served as a symbol for freedom, synonymous with the possibilities and promises of modern life and held out as a model for the rest of the world to emulate.

For over a century, the American frontier represented the universalism of the nation’s ideals. It suggested not only that the country was moving forward, but also that the brutality involved in moving forward would be transformed into something noble. Extend the sphere of America’s influence, as James Madison believed, and you would ensure peace, protect individual liberty and dilute factionalism. As our boundaries widened, all of humanity would become our country. There was no problem caused by expansion that couldn’t be solved by more expansion.

But today the frontier is closed. The country has lived past the end of that myth. After centuries of pushing forward across the frontier — first, the landed frontier, then the frontiers of expanding economic markets and sweeping military dominance — all the things that expansion was supposed to preserve have been destroyed, and all the things it was meant to destroy have been preserved. Instead of peace, there is endless war. Instead of prosperity we have intractable inequality. Instead of a critical, resilient and open-minded citizenry, a conspiratorial nihilism, rejecting reason and dreading change, has taken hold.

Where the frontier once symbolized perennial rebirth, Donald Trump’s border wall — even if it remains mostly phantasmagorical, a perpetual negotiating chip between Congress and the White House — now looms like a tombstone.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval

Here are the top comments which I endorsed:

cherrylog754
Atlanta, GA

“the choice between barbarism and socialism” I’m almost 76, so it’s unlikely that I’ll see which choice was made. But…. Do not despair, nothing ever was like the 60’s in America. A brutal war, riots, dogs let loose on fellow citizens, college students gunned down by the National Guard. more riots, marches and demonstrations every week it seemed. And it culminated in the early 70’s with the resignation of the President. 58,000 young soldiers died for nothing. What is happening today is bad, but it will end in 2020. And this old man has enough faith in our citizenry that we’ll start the healing process just as we’ve done before.

mancuroc commented February 20

mancuroc
rochester

I don’t know how successful trump would be in keeping others out with his beautiful wall. I do know that he has managed to imprison his followers behind a wall of their own ignorance, which will do lasting damage to this country.

ChristineMcM commented February 20

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

“Mr. Trump figured out that to talk about the border, and to promise a wall, was a way of acknowledging capitalism’s limits, its costs, without having to challenge the status quo.” What an article, so much to digest! And how manipulative the man who figured out a way to make racism seem like patriotism. It makes me shudder how much venom resides inside a man who has everything. Problem is, he doesn’t want any “others” to have anything, let alone something, Just imagine what this country could accomplish if Trump’s fixation on the wall and and fake urgency to keep “undesirables” out could have been aimed his energy at into fixing our nation’s real problems: climate change, wealth inequality, infrastructure, the opioid crisis! But no, instead of thinking big like every other president before him, Donald Trump wants to change the balance of power in this country by thinking small. I believe on some level that wall has come to represent Donald Trump’s soul. Let that sink in for a few minutes, and see how you feel.