Berlin: Krauthammer the Commie

Posted on April 26, 2006

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by michael scott moore 

One of the most sinister and stupid things I’ve heard on the radio in a long while got into my living room a couple of weeks ago on the new NPR frequency in Berlin — 104.1, if you live here — when the network gave air time to a member of the Minutemen, American "patriots" who want to turn back an "invasion" of illegal immigrants across the Mexican border.

The Minutemen think a 2000-mile wall from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas, buried ten feet into the earth, guarded by a Border Patrol with guns, will be just the thing to save America’s traditions and institutions. Charles Krauthammer, a neo-conservative who isn’t a Minuteman but fears both terrorist infiltration and a second civil war between Mushy-Hearted Liberals and the Patriotic Foes of Immigration, agrees:

Forget employer sanctions. Build a barrier. It is simply ridiculous to say it cannot be done. If one fence won’t do it, then build a second 100 yards behind it. And then build a road for patrols in between. Put cameras. Put sensors. Put out lots of patrols. Can’t be done? Israel’s border fence has been extraordinarily successful in keeping out potential infiltrators who are far more determined than mere immigrants. Nor have very many North Koreans crossed into South Korea in the last 50 years.

Israel, Krauthammer may have noticed, is at war with a faction of its own people. North Korea is a murderous Communist regime. America, on the other hand, is a busy thriving nation built on immigrants, greater than Europe (neo-cons will remind people) not because of its money or power but because of its relative freedom and tolerance. America also has economic and historical contradictions that force it to absorb a lot of illegal workers. I’d argue that an American who doesn’t like it hasn’t grasped the point of his country. What the fuck — you might ask — is he doing there? The Minutemen, along with Krauthammer, may as well move to Europe, where in any case nations don’t build walls to keep out foreigners.

Of course it will be ugly [Krauthammer writes]. So are the concrete barriers to keep truck bombs from driving into the White House. But sometimes necessity trumps aesthetics. And don’t tell me that this is our Berlin Wall. When you build a wall to keep people in, that’s a prison.

What a wall from San Diego to Brownsville would have in common with the Berlin Wall is both more and less obvious than the nature of the DDR. Everyone knows the U.S. isn’t East Germany. But somehow the American wall suggested by the Minutemen, by Krauthammer, and (in a shorter, 700-mile version) by an anti-immigrant bill passed in the House last year would have:

a) "a double set of steel walls with floodlights, surveillance cameras and motion detectors," i.e., something that looks like a Death Strip

 

 

b) international symbolism to rival the Statue of Liberty

and,

c) roots in craven fear, something America has been flexible and big-souled enough to transcend in the past, which is one reason it still exists, and East Germany doesn’t.

These people can all screw off. They don’t belong in my country.

 

Photo via Todesstreifen 

 

Posted in: berlin, politics