Since announcing the construction of a “big and beautiful” wall on the border with Mexico, more as a campaign hook for political novices than a reality to be concretized in the short term as he made many believe, today’s president of the United States has not stopped referring to his proposal in ways so euphemistically diverse that they fall, without any intellectual effort needed, in the realm of the absurd.
He has said, for example, that the wall will be “strong,” “virtually impenetrable,” and that during high-temperature days it will be possible to “fry an egg” on the structure. He has also never passed up an opportunity to say that the wall will be one that “cannot be really knocked down.”
However, what has happened to a segment of his wall in the outskirts of Mexicali contradicts in good part, at least in a symbolic way, the pretentious rhetoric that he has utilized. It happens that the force and velocity of the Santa Ana winds, which reached some 37 miles an hour according to meteorological reports, caused a recently constructed part of the wall to literally fall.
If not for a row of trees on the Mexican side, the structure would have collapsed completely and very loudly.
The technical explanations, of the insufficient setting of the foundation at the time that an unexpected and powerful gale came through, seem a bit “extra” when the concrete fact is that a force of nature has overcome all other forms of crossing the threshold of the border wall. It even puts to the test whether those millions of dollars invested until now were worth it, since some have opened up segments with a $100 jigsaw, while others have been able to cross using a construction ladder.
It is true that the subsequent and immediate detention of those responsible could minimize what they accomplish, but that is a consequence, and does not mitigate the irrefutable fact that the “big, impenetrable, and beautiful wall” has been crossed.
Many of his declarations and verbal utterances are without rhyme or reason, but have a large impact on his meetings and in the news media, above all the ones he prefers. The accumulation of praise that he has done a good job is equated, precisely, to his personal style of governing.
That is, despite continuing the US example of repeating ad nauseam that this country is the “best in everything” (“the most” in this, that, and the other) the leader, accept it or not, has been partially destabilized by the existence of an anonymous informer —a “whistleblower”— which led him to the anteroom of one of the most controversial political trials in United States history.
The informant “blew” so hard that he made legislators of both parties work extra hours in order to decide what to do with the “hot potato” that the president has become. It’s certain that the Republican Senate will exonerate him of the accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but just like the wind that toppled his wall, his figure as a “strong man” has been staggered in the face of the Constitution, the country, and the world.
And it is to this precise limit that the conflict has become a constitutional crisis for the United States: Trump or the Magna Carta.
Shi Huang Ti, the Chinese emperor who ordered the initial construction of the Great Wall between 220 and 206 BC tried, as the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges put it masterfully in “The Wall and the Books,” to repel and stop enemy advances and burn all the books so there were no references to any emperors before him. The idea was that history would begin with his “legacy.”
But Shi Huang Ti was emperor and did not recognize any law unless he created it. He never got to see his work; the Ming Dynasty and others took over the rest throughout centuries, giving a different twist to the original and eventually permitting commercial and other types of exchange, in order to guarantee the survival of the eternal empire. Today it is just a tourist attraction.
That is, neither Adrian’s wall in the year 122, nor that of Berlin in 1961, Botswana in 2003 or so many others, have served the initial purpose of those laid out by those in history. All have failed.
Who would have predicted that a gust of wind would have revealed that Trump’s wall is, symbolically, two things at the same time: weak in its inutility, on the one hand; and on the other, a quasi-imperial decision during times when one party has been so bewitched and kidnapped to the point of saying that having abused power is fine (quid pro quo) if that helps win elections, as Alan Dershowitz, one of the president’s lawyers, said.
One will have to reopen those historical books on political theory, constitutional rights, and philosophy to know what the hell his defenders are trying to “inaugurate” or what path they are paving for the group of thugs that has taken over in power.
For now, there’s nothing left to do but to hum Bob Dylan, since at least on poetic land he imagined that, if a wall could fall down, “the answer is blowin’ in the wind.”
To read the Spanish-language version of this article click here.