Jun 28, 2007

Something there is that does love a wall

Ace looks at the highly effective wall the Israelis put up and asks: "Are the Amnestias against the wall because it won't be effective -- or against it because it will be effective?"


Opponents of the wall genuinely think that sealing the border is impossible--at least those in the mainstream do. Furthermore, if they refuse to even entertain the notion that sealing the border is possible a) they will never be proven wrong; and b) their adversaries will never be proven right. And it doesn't hurt that their stance will make them the favored choice at the polls for the very vocal hardcore believers who think that any attempt to close the borders is a betrayal of their ideals.

The argument that X is an intractable problem so we shouldn't even try to fix it is kind of an odd argument for the left to be making, considering their faith in social engineering. Yet it's become their fallback position in recent years.

In the 1970s and 80s, before Rudy Giuliani took office, it was an article of faith that NYC was ungovernable; crime would continue to skyrocket and the homeless--who virtually took over in areas like Times Square and Tompkins Square Park--were there to stay. This belief in the intractability of the problem was genuine, but it didn't hurt that not rocking the boat was the favored position of the liberal establishment's core constituents. No, the homeless and the squeegee men and the muggers didn't vote. But homeless advocates, the ACLU and professional racebaiters did. And they were very vocal.

Anyone who attempted to address the chronic problems of the city was punished. A case in point: Ed Koch and Joyce Brown. Koch tried to get Brown, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, off the streets but was thwarted by the ACLU. Then Dinkins took office and the status quo became intolerable.

Yes, it's funny that the same people who believe they can legislate away obesity and poverty consider it unrealistic to tackle other problems. But they do.

Consider education. Vouchers could not be condoned because they were unfair and they wouldn't work anyway. That the teachers' unions opposed them didn't hurt either. The No Child Left Behind Act isn't exactly a conservative darling, but for years the powers that be railed at the idea of imposing any standards or benchmarks on schools. The argument went that teachers would just "teach to the test," leaving students with a big gap in other, important "life skills." Rejecting benchmarks on those grounds meant that legislators didn't have to hold teachers and school administrators accountable for failing schools, which helped them hold their grip on power. But over time, as conditions in certain inner cities schools continued to worsen, the stance of the unions became unsupportable and now they're pulling back and starting to embrace things like merit pay.

The Iraq war is another case in point: It's a quagmire and we can't win so let's just pull out our troops and go home. The daily casualty reports bolster this point of view. And the antiwar--any war--faction is loud and growing louder each day. Since it looks as though we'll be out of there in a few months, they can never be proven wrong on this point.

So what of the wall? It may be another measure that will die on the drawing board. Unless and until someone who walks across the border commits a major act of terror. Let's hope it doesn't get that far.

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