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An activist paints the border wall near Ciudad Juarez in 2017, when Trump was already deemed the least popular US leader in modern history.  Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images

I Will Build A Great Wall That Will Be Impenetrable, Except For Saws, Wind, Breaches, Ladders and Now Monsoons

Abby Zimet

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a malevolent clown promised a country that didn't want it a "perfect" and "beautiful" wall on our southern border to keep out scary brown families - aka "drugs, crime and rapists" - daring to seek a better life, and also Mexico would pay for it, "Mark my words," which, too bad for him, many did, after which they quickly realized it was a crock. So was the sordid, chimerical rest: In the end, instead of his much-touted, 2,000-mile wallapalooza, we got a pointless, shoddy, racist, laughably partial, "not engineered to last,” frequently sued and constantly besieged "environmental catastrophe" funded by a deeply resistant we the people after its bloated budget soared from $8 billion to over $25 billion, in part thanks to 200 sketchy "contract modifications" - aka bribes - granted to a small group of pre-selected, fat-cat GOP donors, thus rendering the wall's per-mile cost five times what it was under Bush and Obama. Because, grifter.

“I will build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me," said the clown, though, even then, hardly anyone did. He went on to boast the "wall" would be "physical (sic), tall, powerful, beautiful" and "virtually impenetrable," except for one "big, beautiful door," and yes he repeated "beautiful" because he only knows seven adjectives. (Kids, stay in school.) As to "impenetrable": It turned out said brown people could saw through barriers costing $27 million a mile with $100 power tools and even climb over them with $5 ladders; also, it seems the wind sometimes blows. Predictably, like the "gold lamé attire" of his buildings, it was also rushed, crappy construction, a "prosaic" product wrapped in "paper-thin party costumes" denoting glitz no deeper than his make-up. Ultimately, he claimed to have built 450 miles, but most of it was just repairing existing barriers or fences, with perhaps 80 new miles; of those, 300-plus miles have barriers that will only stop vehicles, which leaves 1,350 miles - over half in Texas - open to anyone desperate enough to walk through the harsh, trackless desert.

Along with crimes against humanity and aesthetics, the wall has been "a tragedy" for one of the country's most complex, fragile ecosystems, threatening pristine lands, indigenous communities, the Southwest's rare bio-diversity and already endangered species like jaguars, ocelots, gray wolves and javelinas. Even as migrant traffic slowed to its lowest point in decades, an army of contractors kept slashing forests and gouging out mountainsides for roads and staging areas; they razed sacred Native sites, bulldozed iconic cacti and other native plants, drained vital groundwater and decimated wildlife habit with fleets of heavy machinery - all while, at a scurvy outlaw's initiative, bypassing environmental laws protecting water, air and at-risk species through repeated, questionable waivers. Once in office, Biden froze construction, canceled contracts and ordered a review, calling the project "not a serious policy solution." Still, the damage has been done. Last month, mitigation and clean-up efforts began at about 10 construction sites; the goal is to first remove safety hazards and then, hopefully, begin to address environmental damage and re-purpose funds from what activists call "a dark stain on American history."

When the wall was first proposed, architects joined many others in decrying a project symbolizing “racist patriarchy." In an impassioned open letter, one called on colleagues as a body to reject the "cannibal feast...Let us not be complicit in building (his) wall but band together to take it down!” Because irony isn't quite dead yet, the havoc and extreme weather of a planet burning up from climate change the former guy assiduously ignored has made that endeavor increasingly, organically moot. Last week, despite a mega-drought  afflicting large portions of the Southwest, Arizona was hit by record-settling monsoon rains that unleashed historic flooding on the border. The floods, in turn, decimated another section of the still-partially built wall near Douglas, literally ripping at least six metal floodgates off their hinges and leaving them stuck in deep mud and detritus around the battered remnants of the wall. Posting pictures of the debacle, Gizmodo asked, "Who could have predicted this?" and cogently answered, "Just about everyone." It seems multiple experts had warned that, given all those waivers for all those environmental laws, the gates would have to be left open during heavy rains - thus negating their purpose by allowing easy entry - to stop flood surges of water, rocks, trees et al from destroying the wall. Which, even though the gates reportedly were open, they did. Note to satanic clowns: Don't build stupid, racist walls, and don't fuck with Mother Nature.


Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. 

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