The Berlin Wall Today

Volokh had a couple of posts up commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – here, here, and here for example.

I am too young to remember the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the idea of the wall, as I learned about it later, made quite an impression on me.  The Communists had voluntarily constructed a physical testament to their citizens’ fevered desire to escape.  And once that wall came down, the beneficent West welcomed the refugees with open arms.  But because I am too young to remember the Berlin Wall, another wall looms larger in my mind.

Today, a sickening parody of the past is unfolding.  A new wall goes up along our border, and the United States is building it.  It builds it not to keep its own rich well-fed citizens trapped inside, but to keep the poor and desperate out.  The Berlin Wall made a sick sort of sense.  The Communists needed to prevent the human material of their social experiments from escaping.  But the wall today is an aimless and demented cruelty, a jeering testament to our nation’s willingness to sacrifice its own prosperity, if only it can make our neighbors a little poorer.  It denies both the citizens inside our borders and those without the best operation of the capitalist system that was once the hope of desperate East Berliners.

Once we demanded that the Soviets tear down their wall.  Today we insist that our neighbors help us seal off our border.  So today, I look forward to the twentieth anniversary of the fall of a different wall, and a time when we will have seen it for the travesty that it is.

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