That Incredible Shrinking Wall

It is not news anymore that the fabled wall across Mexico will be no such thing.

In July the news came down the Golden Escalator that the border wall will not actually be a sealing-off of the entire Mexican border. Yes, that was what had been promised, with thunderous bellowing, at Trump rallies during the 2016 campaign. But, anyway, that was only just something for the people at those campaign rallies.Lego wall

As he is quoted in this brief article in The Atlantic, the president is now saying that it would be unnecessary to wall off all 1,900 miles of Mexico. Superfluous, really! There are hundreds of miles of fencing already in place. Also plenty of topographic features of the area already discourage crossing. (And wall building.)

Surely everybody knew about the topography of the area in 2015, when walling it off became the cornerstone of the campaign of our sitting president. The Rio Grande River is a big part of what he is now relying on for a “natural barrier.” But wasn’t it the constant, routine crossing of that river that gave rise to the main ethnic slur term used against Mexicans in United States? You know the one.

It’s shocking to see how far this formidable barrier has shrunk, before a single blueprint has been made public. In the movie, the Incredible Shrinking Man was nearly devoured by his cat. Then, later, by a spider! In a similar vein, Trump’s Great Wall is on its way to becoming a fixture in a putt-putt mini-golf course.

Between the impenetrable natural barriers and the six hundred and fifty miles of existing fence, Trump now figures we can skate by with as little as fifty miles of new walling. It will need to be see-through, of course, so no drug dealer could launch a sixty pound bag of dope over and hit somebody on the head. (Those were his words, not mine.) So, unless we are talking about an awful lot of plexiglass, this will mean fifty miles of steel bars. Kind of an Alcatraz aesthetic for south Texas. It’s funny that the closer you get to the border, the less popular this whole wall business becomes.  

Fifty miles of wall. Should be doable, right? Trump cronies will get the contract and bring it in for some figure less than a trillion dollars. Maybe I should retract my previous criticisms of the feasibility of this project. But I decided to do a little research first.

Do you know the length of the longest wall in the United States? It is also the third longest wall in the world, next to the ancient Hadrian’s Wall and Great Wall of China, both of which failed to keep the invading hordes out.

America's Longest Wall

America’s Longest Wall

The longest wall ever built in the United States is the one enclosing historic Pine Grove Cemetery, in Lowell, Massachusetts. Its length comes in at an impressive three point six miles. So, not even four miles. And not very tall.

As they contemplate building one over ten times that length, somehow before Trump leaves office, Trumpies everywhere can take heart in one reassuring fact. The wall around Pine Grove Cemetery was also government work. It was a WPA project, built during Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

 

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