Something There Is

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“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall...”
                                                         —Robert Frost, “Mending Wall”

I’m far from convinced that a border wall is desirable. But the people who fulminate against it tend to be so insufferable that they push me into seeing the good side of it, if only out of sheer contrariness. I am sick of “progressives” lecturing me on bigotry. They’re the last people on the planet with any room to talk.

Supposedly, wanting a wall is racist. Though actually, it’s pretty racist to lump people who obey the law — including immigration laws — together with those who don’t, based on nothing but skin color. Do “progressives” think that for those south of the border, criminality is the norm? Most of those trying to reach this country hope to leave the criminals behind them; they don’t appear to be in favor of letting everyone in.

These United States have held together as long as they have not only because they permitted compatible people to live together, but because they let incompatible people live apart.

Walls don’t only divide. They also unite. Good neighbors on each side of them are usually glad they’re there. A wall lets you be you, and me be me. Forcing people to put up with one another does nothing to help them get along.

People don’t all want the same things out of life. These United States have held together as long as they have not only because they permitted compatible people to live together, but because they let incompatible people live apart. I am a Westerner, born and bred. There is little chance I’d ever move East of the Mississippi, and I would appreciate it if people from those parts stopped trying to turn Arizona into Massachusetts or New Jersey. People north of the Mexican border can be forgiven for not wanting the US to become Mexico, Guatemala, or Venezuela.

It is not racist to want to separate oneself from violent and lawless people, or even from those whose way of life vastly differs from one’s own. Nor is it racist to prefer the company of those who want to preserve our way of life and can be trusted to do us no harm. There should be ways to make sure that people stop before they enter the country — actually stop — so we can see whether they will affirm our way of life as other immigrants have done. Though I think the wall would be unnecessary and excessively expensive, I do understand the reasons why a fair number of Americans want one. To dismiss them all as racist is irrational and intellectually dishonest.

I have lived around Hispanic Americans all my life. On the whole, I like them. They are a part of the culture of my home state, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere they weren’t welcome. I don’t associate those I know with human traffickers, drug smugglers, or murderers. People who make such a general association are racist, and no matter how much they may project their guilt onto others, the definition fits.

Though I think the wall would be unnecessary and excessively expensive, I do understand the reasons why a fair number of Americans want one.

But people who emigrate to the United States should be amenable to our culture. Not everyone who comes to our country respects it, or wishes to live a life compatible with our ideals. Education by state-run schools tends to indoctrinate the young into a reliance on the state to solve all social problems. I stand equidistant from those who want a border wall and those who want open borders.

Among those opposed to a wall, I strongly suspect there are many for whom that viewpoint’s primary attraction is that they want to be as different as possible from people who want one. Libertarians are divided on the issue, depending on whether they believe freer movement between countries is worth the risk of cultural decay. The problem is that as our culture decays, a commitment to liberty erodes along with it.

Libertarians have a tremendous stake in the promotion of what has traditionally been called American culture. We have no reason to assume that if we throw the gates open wide, all of those who stream in are going to respect liberty, individual responsibility, or what we hold to be basic human rights. We need to stand firmly for the values we hold dear.

I’ve been asked several times to run for office. I refuse to do that, because I’d run as a libertarian — which means that I would lose. The world doesn’t need any more politicians, but it needs every libertarian it can get.

Race and culture are frequently confused. Those who love liberty and individual responsibility are accused of racism — as if only people of white European ancestry can be assumed to care about such things. But it’s definitely racist to attribute particular ideas to certain races. A nonracist — and truly libertarian — policy would be to preserve and promote our culture, both in our immigration policies and in the education of our own citizens.

The world doesn’t need any more politicians, but it needs every libertarian it can get.

We don’t need a wall, but we do need something. Good fences do make good neighbors, but if I dislike the idea of Arizona becoming New Jersey, I hate even more the possibility that it might become East Germany. With or without an actual wall, a police state mentality is poisonous.

So, what is that “something?” What influence can we exert (“control” may be too strong a word) over who comes to the United States and why? And how can we do this if we don’t win elections and seize power?

We can refuse to call people racist when they express concern over what is happening to our culture. We can also take a greater interest in what is taught in our schools. We may not like the fact that most of them are taxpayer-funded, but as long as we are among those funding them, we have not only a right, but also a duty to insist that an appreciation for Western civilization is being inculcated. In the foreseeable future, most kids will continue to be educated in public schools.

If I dislike the idea of Arizona becoming New Jersey, I hate even more the possibility that it might become East Germany.

Liberty, societal stability, and the protection of natural rights answer common human yearnings. There are people in all cultures who do not have these yearnings, but there are also people who do. “Freedom has many difficulties,” noted President Kennedy, “and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us.”

If we don’t continue to stand for freedom here at home, the time will come when those who oppose a wall to keep immigrants out will indeed need walls to keep us in. We owe it to Americans of every race and generation to make sure that those who come to our country to escape hell aren’t bringing it along with them.




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Comments

Visitor

"Mending Wall" is a poem in which a man makes an increasingly frantic case to his neighbor against such walls, because they place distance between human beings that doesn't need to be there and otherwise wouldn't be. When Frost's narrator says that "good fences make good neighbors," he is using irony. I'm not sure that "Western civilization," as used in this article, means anything, because it arbitrarily includes many contradictory things and just as arbitrarily excludes many more. But if there is such a thing, then the development of Irony would be one of its highest achievements, because with irony comes a healthy skepticism about the transcendent value of any abstraction such as "Western civilization," or any platitude such as "good fences make good neighbors."

This would rightly be something to celebrate and to inculcate in schools. But I do not think many schools include irony (or skepticism, for that matter) on their curricula. Certainly, it's a lesson that many people from all across the political spectrum seem to have missed.

JdL

"Libertarians are divided on the issue..."

No, they're not. People who support a giant wall are not libertarians. They're statists.

Jacob Hornberger covers this issue exhaustively at fff.org. I suggest the author read his work before writing another ridiculous column such as this.

Scott Robinson

Dear Lori,

There is a counterargument that I have been longing to present to people arguing for Pueblas sin fronteras. I would tell them, "Tambien necisitamos chingas sin consentas." Basically, if we have towns without borders, we should also have fucks without consent. The problem is that both of these affairs are only concerned with the interests of one of the two participants. Another name for this is tyranny or bullying.
Therefore, this is an argument for the interests of both participants needing to be considered. The problem then comes from using an absolute solution, like a wall. A wall is both needed to surround a prison in order to keep the prisoners trapped inside, and to keep the roof of your house over your head and protecting you from your surroundings in order to keep you warm and sheltered. This is the difficulty of libertarianism, you have to consider both the side of freedom and responsibility. A door is the example for this necessity of management. For it to work, sometimes the door needs to be opened, other times it needs to be closed. The difficulty is when to do one and when to do the other. Another difficulty is to say this in politicalnese.

Best Wishes,
Scott

Kurt

Legal immigration is indeed good, and the current state of government schools is indeed bad, insofar as it conditions folks to suck on the government teat.

But regarding the wall: The harder a wall makes it to get it, the harder it makes it to get out, should that become desirable.

Kurt

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