Sunday, August 9, 2015

... Of Fences, Walls, Bridges, and Tunnels: The GOP Traffic Jam and What DO Americans Really Want?

If a Republican has the mike in this election cycle and immigration arises as a topic, we are going to hear about a wall or a fence.  Donald trump intends to build a wall that in his world Mexico will finance.  On State of the Union with Jake Tapper, Governor John Kasich (OH) referred to a fence.   At the Thursday night debate, Kasich called it a wall, "Mr. Trump is touching a nerve because people want the wall to be built..."   Meanwhile, Marco Rubio changed it to a fence, "I also believe we need a fence. The problem is if El Chapo builds a tunnel under the fence...."  All conveniently forgot or ignored that the 9/11 hijackers and the and potential "shoe-bomber" arrived by air, and recent terrorist activity has come from domestic residents and citizens.

New Englander, and Poet Laureate of Vermont (although his farm stands in Derry, NH) , Robert Frost had some hardscrabble experience with both walls and fences, referred to interchangeably here.

The Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire, where he wrote many of his poems, including "Tree at My Window" and "Mending Wall." - Wikipedia

Mending Wall

Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, And spills the upper boulders in the sun; And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. The work of hunters is another thing: I have come after them and made repair Where they have left not one stone on a stone, But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, No one has seen them made or heard them made, But at spring mending-time we find them there. I let my neighbor know beyond the hill; And on a day we meet to walk the line And set the wall between us once again. We keep the wall between us as we go. To each the boulders that have fallen to each. And some are loaves and some so nearly balls We have to use a spell to make them balance: ‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!' We wear our fingers rough with handling them. Oh, just another kind of outdoor game, One on a side. It comes to little more: There where it is we do not need the wall: He is all pine and I am apple orchard. My apple trees will never get across And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.' Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder If I could put a notion in his head: 'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it Where there are cows? But here there are no cows. Before I built a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offense. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That wants it down.' I could say ‘Elves’ to him, But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather He said it for himself. I see him there Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed. He moves in darkness as it seems to me, Not of woods only and the shade of trees. He will not go behind his father’s saying, And he likes having thought of it so well He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'
Yes, maybe, and the only ones tunneling under Frost's walls,  presumably were moles.  The Great Wall in China has served two  purposes, as a defense, and now as a tourist attraction.  Then there was this wall.

Frost was honored to craft and read a poem at the inauguration of a young president in 1961.   Some of us remember how he struggled against the wind and bright sunlight in his presentation.  (I was in tears for him).

This is the poem he intended to read.
Summoning artists to participate
In the august occasions of the state
Seems something artists ought to celebrate.
Today is for my cause a day of days.
And his be poetry's old-fashioned praise
Who was the first to think of such a thing.
This verse that in acknowledgement I bring
Goes back to the beginning of the end
Of what had been for centuries the trend;
A turning point in modern history.
Colonial had been the thing to be
As long as the great issue was to see
What country'd be the one to dominate
By character, by tongue, by native trait,
The new world Christopher Columbus found.
The French, the Spanish, and the Dutch were downed
And counted out. Heroic deeds were done.
Elizabeth the First and England won.
Now came on a new order of the ages
That in the Latin of our founding sages
(Is it not written on the dollar bill
We carry in our purse and pocket still?)
God nodded his approval of as good.
So much those heroes knew and understood,
I mean the great four, Washington,
John Adams, Jefferson, and Madison
So much they saw as consecrated seers
They must have seen ahead what not appears,
They would bring empires down about our ears
And by the example of our Declaration
Make everybody want to be a nation.
And this is no aristocratic joke
At the expense of negligible folk.
We see how seriously the races swarm
In their attempts at sovereignty and form.
They are our wards we think to some extent
For the time being and with their consent,
To teach them how Democracy is meant.
"New order of the ages" did they say?
If it looks none too orderly today,
'Tis a confusion it was ours to start
So in it have to take courageous part.
No one of honest feeling would approve
A ruler who pretended not to love
A turbulence he had the better of.
Everyone knows the glory of the twain
Who gave America the aeroplane
To ride the whirlwind and the hurricane.
Some poor fool has been saying in his heart
Glory is out of date in life and art.
Our venture in revolution and outlawry
Has justified itself in freedom's story
Right down to now in glory upon glory.
Come fresh from an election like the last,
The greatest vote a people ever cast,
So close yet sure to be abided by,
It is no miracle our mood is high.
Courage is in the air in bracing whiffs
Better than all the stalemate an's and ifs.
There was the book of profile tales declaring
For the emboldened politicians daring
To break with followers when in the wrong,
A healthy independence of the throng,
A democratic form of right devine
To rule first answerable to high design.
There is a call to life a little sterner,
And braver for the earner, learner, yearner.
Less criticism of the field and court
And more preoccupation with the sport.
It makes the prophet in us all presage
The glory of a next Augustan age
Of a power leading from its strength and pride,
Of young amibition eager to be tried,
Firm in our free beliefs without dismay,
In any game the nations want to play.
A golden age of poetry and power
Of which this noonday's the beginning hour.
This is the poem he recited from memory that day.

"The Gift Outright"

Poem recited at John F. Kennedy's Inauguration
by Robert Frost

The land was ours before we were the land’s
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she will become.
That young president visited that infamous wall and had these words to offer.
I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin. And I am proud -- And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor who for so many years has committed Germany to democracy and freedom and progress, and to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who --
   -- who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed.
Two thousand years ago -- Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was "civis Romanus sum."¹ Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is "Ich bin ein Berliner."
(I appreciate my interpreter translating my German.)
There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world.
Let them come to Berlin.
There are some who say -- There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future.
Let them come to Berlin.
And there are some who say, in Europe and elsewhere, we can work with the Communists.
Let them come to Berlin.
And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress.
Lass' sie nach Berlin kommen.
Let them come to Berlin.

Freedom has many difficulties 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. I want to say on behalf of my countrymen who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride, that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last 18 years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force, and the hope, and the determination of the city of West Berlin.
While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system -- for all the world to see -- we take no satisfaction in it; for it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.
What is -- What is true of this city is true of Germany: Real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with good will to all people.
You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you, as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today, to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom everywhere, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.
Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we look -- can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.
All -- All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin.
And, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner."
Many remember Ronald Reagan asking Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down that wall.  Some believe it fell because he said that.  Some believe it fell because of prayers we said at the end of Mass for many years as instructed by the Virgin at Fatima.  The most likely reason was the fault in Communism, the system so failed that it had to build a wall in the first place to keep its people in.

Hillary Clinton led the U.S. delegation to the 20th anniversary of the fall of that wall that some of us remember being built upon blood - literally - on the blood of the people who tried to escape.

Secretary Clinton at the Fall of the Wall + 20

Video: Secretary Clinton at The Fall of the Wall +20

My favorite account of how that wall came down, is this one by Andreas Ramos. Very worth the read.

Hillary Clinton is not and never has been about building walls.  She has always been about tearing them down.

When it comes to our neighbor to the south, she holds Mexico in such high regard that after her first, quite extensive tour as secretary of state through Asia, her next official visit was to Mexico.

Hillary Clinton in Mexico with Women Leaders and Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa

US Secretary of State Clinton shakes hands with Mexican Foreign Secretary Espinosa after a news conference in Mexico City

On her second day there, she surprised the rector at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe with an early morning visit.  The Basilica is the heart of Mexican religious life.  Hillary wanted to see and to understand, and she understood the power of the gesture.

Hillary Clinton in Mexico Day 2

US. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton visits MexicoUS. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton visits Mexico2a7zbd2

So while the GOP continually speaks of walls and fences, Hillary has shown herself to be a builder of bridges and relationships,  One of her final acts as secretary of state was to welcome Patricia Espinosa's successor to the State Department.

Video: Hillary Clinton Greets New Foreign Secretary of Mexico Jose Antonio Meade

It is up to Americans to decide what they prefer: candidates who want to wall us off and isolate us from the world and the world from us physically, militarily, and economically with unilateral sanctions already proven not to work,  or a candidate who builds and nourishes healthy relationships around the globe with friends and partners and who knows how to negotiate with those who disagree with us.


It is our choice.  It is your vote!  Be informed.  Use it wisely.