I have made several wrong assumptions over the last couple of years. Take the word ‘Brexit’ for example, a ridiculous term which I assumed to be merely a temporary portmanteau used by satirists and Katie Hopkins. Now it’s become the most commonly used word in the English language (true fact) and I imagine it’s found its way into the dictionary along with moobs and wanzing.
I also assumed that come November, Hillary Clinton would be the president of the United States. This is because everyone I personally know who had a vote in the presidential election is a decent, right thinking person who wasn’t prepared to let a tiny-handed, misogynistic, half-witted, wingding become the most powerful man in the world. Again, I was wrong. Turns out that almost 62 million people believed that Trump was a viable option. Huh.
So this wall then. The one to keep the Mexicans out. I pretty much assumed that to be an empty campaign promise.
To assume makes an ass out of u and me, as a stupid person once said. And wow, did I feel like an arse this morning while making tea and listening to radio 4 because, would you believe it, Trump is actually going to build his wall! Like an angry ukip-voting Englishman putting in a planning application for a moat around his bungalow, it sounds so disproportionate and comical that I was having trouble taking John Humphreys seriously. I looked up the length of the USA Mexico border; 1,900 miles long. That’s going to require a lot of contractors and a whole load of work permits1. There’s a development of apartments in the centre of Manchester which have been half built for over a decade. It’s taken us three years to take the hideous fireplace out of our front room. Last year I needed a hole drilled in a wall at work and it took six months to organise. Maybe I live a different world but I just couldn’t see it happening.
What will this wall look like? Where will Trump get his inspiration? Let’s have a think about this in a historical context. The Wall in Game of Thrones was pretty awesome, so big you need a lift to get to the top. Chuck in some white walkers to help guard it and you’ve got yourself… no wait that’s not historical is it. How about Hadrian’s wall. I’m sure that once, it would have struck fear into the hearts of invading barbarians, but these days it’s less impressive. I went there once and climbed right over the top of it with nary a word from the Romans. Or was Trump thinking more along the lines of the Berlin wall, all concrete, barbed wire and totalitarianism? Maybe that’s more up his street. Although if we’ve learned anything from history, it’s that in the future, if this wall were to be dismantled, you’re practically inviting a free open air concert by David Hasselhoff.
What about the bits of the border which Trump claimed last year would ‘probably be ok with just a fence’. What kind of fence are we talking about here? A 21st century Glastonbury style super fence or the pre-2002 kind where you could pay a hippy a tenner and he would let you borrow his ladder?2 Not that sneaking into the USA is in any way comparable to sneaking into the Glastonbury festival. For starters, once you’re in, you’d have to navigate across miles of difficult terrain, becoming increasingly dehydrated, before eventually making a desperate attempt to blend in to an unfamiliar culture to avoid detection. And that’s just the queue for the main stage. Ha!
There’s another thing which trump seems to have forgotten during all his noisy gurning. There is already a border in place between the USA and Mexico. It may not be made of concrete and barbed wire but it’s there all the same. Having a quick look at the current arrangements, I’ve learnt that not only are there fences, border patrols and checkpoints, but also sensors and cameras in place to try and catch illegal border crossings. A wall won’t stop people from trying, though, it will just make it more like the Krypton Factor. Except with more broken ankles and the possibility of being shot on the other side. People desperate enough to send their unaccompanied children in a plastic dinghy across the Rio Grande aren’t doing this for fun. People trying to find their way out of poverty and violence aren’t chancing their arm just for shits and giggles. But let’s not let that get in the way of some good old xenophobic bluster and guff. So let’s just listen to Trump tell us (again) that he’s really good at building stuff and get on the blower to Mexico to get those funds transferred. Winter’s coming.
- As well as obtaining titles for privately owned land in Texas, resolving disputes around where the border actually sits, finding 339 million cubic feet of concrete (as estimated by the BBC)… There’s also the small matter of raising the funds. But I’ve heard Mexico is going to pay so that shouldn’t be a problem.
- I don’t condone this