Quantcast
Connect with us

This is the unspoken violence of Donald Trump’s border wall

Published

on

- Commentary

Ever since his days on the election campaign trail the US president, Donald Trump, has assured voters of his intentions to build a wall along the US border with Mexico. He reiterated this promise during the 2019 State of the Union, and then declared a state of emergency soon after in order to access funding that Congress had rejected. It is now included on Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign website as part of a broader agenda to curb immigration.

Opponents of Trump’s border wall have dismissed the project as politically self-serving and financially frivolous. But arguments against the border wall have primarily focused on the cost to US taxpayers, suggesting economics as the most compelling framework through which a border wall project could be shot down.

ADVERTISEMENT

Some others have focused on the environmental impact a border wall might have on the habitats and migration flows of North American wildlife.

It seems that many have avoided discussions of the moral issues raised by the border project and its long-lasting consequences for human civilisation. By contrast, Trump doesn’t rely on fiscal responsibility to justify his project, stressing his administration’s “moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of […] citizens.”

But it is the moral costs of the border wall that should raise the greatest concern for the world at large. In my study on the lasting impact of border walls on society, I examined centuries of history and politics to uncover the consequences of the ancient walls surrounding Damascus on present-day Syrian society.

Those Roman walls, built around the 3rd century AD were intended to protect the city and its inhabitants from invaders. They surrounded the city, allowing inhabitants to enter and exit at seven points, the famous seven gates of Damascus. In 749 AD, Abu Abbas al-Saffah destroyed the walls during his overthrow of the Umayyad Caliphate, leaving only a small portion that extended from the Bab Touma gate to the Bab al Salam gate.

ADVERTISEMENT

Today, long after they were destroyed, the Roman walls continue to have an effect on the structure of Syrian society, dictating marriages, business networks, and many other elements of socio-economic status. There are websites which list the family names of notables who historically resided “within” the city walls, bestowing an enduring distinction on generations of Syrians born with last names like the one my mother bore.

These contemporary practices suggest that the Roman walls continue to divide society along the lines of “Jouwwa” (inside) and “Barra” (outside), discriminating against those who live beyond their boundaries as “other”.

ADVERTISEMENT

In a recent book chapter, I argue that walls act as communication devices that symbolise belonging or otherness to the communities that reside within and outside their bounds. As the archaeologist Oliver Creighton has commented:

The image of the walled city might outwardly be one of enclosure, cohesion, and privilege, equally important but underestimated is the enduring role of walled heritage in excluding […] populations.

Humanity, interrupted

Walls communicate protection and social cohesion to those living inside their bounds. They also symbolise a community’s “worthiness” of protection. By contrast, people beyond their bounds are deemed unworthy of protection. More importantly, they become a dehumanised part of the landscape that the internal “we” must be protected from.

ADVERTISEMENT

This distinction was apparent when Trump stated that his administration was intent on ending “illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers and human traffickers out of business.”

Most alarmingly, the dehumanisation of populations outside the boundaries of walls threatens violence towards these communities. It also impedes their movement into the centre, criminalising their mobility. As such, the plans to build a border wall – and the global proliferation of walls including between India and Bangladesh, and on the Hungarian border – suggests an ever-increasing militarisation of border crossing and mobility, with lethal consequences for migrants across the globe.

As legal expert Jaya Ramji-Nogales has said of global migration regimes, the world needs “alternate approach to global migration law”. This must begin by using evidence to challenge the escalating militarisation of border crossings in order to advocate for mobility as a fundamental human right that should not be curtailed by walls or borders.

ADVERTISEMENT

It is telling that we acknowledge migration as a necessary part of life for most organisms on earth. Zoologists and conservationists trace the migration patterns of different land animals, birds and fish. Yet the approach to discussions on global migration flows fails to seriously consider migration as crucial to human civilisation. That needs to change.The Conversation

By Nour Halabi, Lecturer in Media and Communications, University of Leeds

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Barack Obama was an awesome president — and Democrats shouldn’t forget that

Published

on

It's time for a defense of Barack Obama, the best American president of the last 50 years.

Part of that is because the competition hasn't exactly been fierce, but we'll get to that in a moment. First it is worth reflecting on how Obama became something of a goat during the last round of Democratic debates in Detroit. As the Rev. Al Sharpton said afterward, "This whole suicide mission of going after Barack Obama smells like desperation, and I think it certainly shows that some of them are just not ready for where they are."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump’s ignorance has touched off a new crisis in Kashmir

Published

on

South Asia is again in crisis and could be on the brink of war. For the second time in six months, the world is on tenterhooks, waiting to see what turn events will take. Because the two antagonists are armed with nuclear weapons, the possibility of a confrontation is taken seriously. And as has happened before, Kashmir is at the center of the dispute that has kept India and Pakistan at loggerheads for over 70 years.

The simmering cauldron came to a boil about 10 days ago, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, flush after a landslide electoral victory, revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which established special status of the disputed territory. As expected, public reaction has been strong. In a bid to control the situation, the government has imposed a curfew and a clampdown on communications, cutting off the Kashmiris from the outside world.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

QAnon is the conspiracy theory that won’t die: Here’s what they believe — and why they’re wrong

Published

on

If you follow the squeaks and squawks of far-right conspiracy theorists, you have almost certainly encountered QAnon believers — individuals who follow the oft-debunked predictions of an anonymous man who calls himself "Q" and claims to know the sinister truth about how the world works.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image