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What’s behind the wall

The nation is presently having a superficial argument about a metaphysical wall, never meant to be a physical creation.

The wall was never more than its rallying cry, never more than the impossibility that Mexico would pay for the wall. And Trump supporters, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter aside, never cared if the wall got built. The issue behind the wall was what motivated Trump supporters…the Browning of America.

Donald Trump supporters, almost exclusively white, fear Spanish speaking neighborhoods and retail stores and restaurants (maybe restaurants not so much) will change “their” country. Some fear their jobs will be taken by the new brown people, those willing to work for lower wages, paid by employers long tolerated for breaking employment laws.

These same faithful Trump followers use the wall to deny the perception that they harbor bigotry or racial bias. But the wall does not serve them well in that regard because there never was a rational basis for believing a 3-0-foot high wall across our southern border would be constructed, much less paid for by Mexico. The wall was never more than cover for fear of the “Other.”

As for that fear, would facts really matter if you just do not feel comfortable around brown people who are poor? Probably not. So when Trump falsely claims these brown people are rapists and murderers, it is easier to be bigoted, because your bigotry is just common sense…brown people are dangerous. That the claim is false is not something you care to research when its conclusion fits your belief.

And if that fear seeks actual action, then, absurd wall aside, Trump really is your guy, and you should be pleased. Since Trump became president the U.S. has fallen to 50th in acceptance of asylees and refugees as a share of the population. If that is great news to you, then consider that, under Trump, we now accept 0.2 percent of our population versus an average internationally of 1.2 percent, six times higher than the U.S.

If that makes you happy, you may be thrilled that the 2019 refugee limit is 30,000, the lowest refugee acceptance level in three decades.

And if joy still abounds in your heart, the U.S. currently has 12,800 minor children refugees in custody, a six-fold increase in 16 months, and that number grows daily.

Currently the Trump administration seeks over $4 billion in additional funding for more beds for the coming kids.

If all of the above gives you comfort that the president is managing the “crisis” superbly, consider the actual facts; there are fewer illegals in the U.S. than any time since 2004; 2/3rds of them have lived here a decade or longer; the crime rates of the illegals are lower than naturalized Americans. All of these pesky facts suggest there is no present “crisis,” of course.

Finally, consider that, since 1975, the United States has accepted over 3 million refugees and asylum seekers. Virtually all are poor and coming in fear from a violent past. And yet, with so many “Others” here, some of our best years of prosperity and lowest years of crime have followed.

Our nation had, for many years, led the world in humanitarian acceptance of the poor, the displaced, the frightened, those seeking a better life, just as our forefathers sought better lives. And just as Germans and Poles and Italians were the “Others,” they too contributed to the nation.

We have a better history than this president, who sings the siren song of fear and bigotry with every chant of “build the wall.” Let us not dignify a single ounce of steel or concrete to disparage our courageous past.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.