KRWG

New Mexicans Protest Trump's Wall

Jun 10, 2018

Commentary: We're at the border, to protest yet another federal stupidity. 

Behind the stage is the “new and improved” wall marking New Mexico's border with Old Mexico. We need no such wall, of course. Deer, mountain lions, and javelina need no such wall. The land looks the same on both sides, except that we've messed up our side.

This wall will waste money and our scarce water, and inhibit biological diversity – without really affecting drug trafficking. Drug cartels got plenty of ladders and digging tools. Animals don't.

This wall placates Donald Trump's ego. Along with DACA gamesmanship and separating families at the border, it symbolizes our arrogance – and indifference to others' suffering. 

The guitars and activism recall the 1960's. Then as now, spirited people fought for truths denied by the Washington elite.

It's different too. A white drone flies above us. I can see it's single eye. I resist the impulse to raise an impolite finger, assuming it's [U.S.] federal, though likely it belongs to Mexican TV. 

And there are many older folks. I rarely saw that in the 1960's. “Don't Trust Anyone over 30!” Now I've more than doubled 30. Most importantly, our community doesn't view us as traitors or pariahs for our anti-wall beliefs.

Amazingly, three days before the Primary, candidates Steve Fischmann, Billy Garrett, Bill McCamley, and Garrett VeneKlasen are here. They didn't come into the desert for votes. The few hundred here have likely voted for them already. Nor did they come for the waters. They came because, like us, they care. They're moved and saddened by the mistreatment of others – and by our leaders' contempt for nature.

It's no huge thing, to have driven to this lonely spot in the desert on a very hot day in June. I have no illusion that today will have much effect; but we need to be here. (In 1966, U.S. withdrawal from 'Nam seemed unlikely.)

People speak, movingly and not too long. People play music and sing and dance. 

City Councilor Gabe Vasquez speaks. Born in Juarez, highly articulate and hard-working, he's a living refutation of the kind of ethnic prejudice that energizes Trump & Co.

Songs and speeches convey the pain and damage caused by separating families. Those separations make perfect sense if you assume that these people are our mortal enemies – Hitler's SS, or ISIS terrorists – so vile and dangerous that we are immersed in a total war against them. But what if they are families trying to survive, seeking better worlds for their kids, or possibly fleeing political violence and persecution? Sure, some are subject to deportation; but why inflict on them additional misery so unwarranted the U.N. is now condemning it? Looking at the quarters we house them in, I wonder if Joe Arpaio is in charge. 

The organizers give everyone a flower to leave on the wall. We walk several hundred yards west to where construction of the new wall is in progress. It's a good walk. Thought-provoking. Moving, particularly when folks start singing “This Land Is my Land.” I greet the Mexican Police, and wave, and they wave back. Mexican reporters interview people. 

Standing where this wall is being built, I imagine some day placing a small section of it beside the unprepossessing chunk of concrete (now serving as a doorstop) that was once part of the Berlin Wall. I hope that day comes soon.