The Lodge of Shingebiss

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Caesar Builds a Wall

Even though two-thirds of Americans think that a barrier on the Mexican border would be a good idea, my governor Janet Napolitano thinks otherwise.

“Show me a 50-foot wall and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder,” Napolitano said. This asinine remark was greeted with idiotic grins by our local broadcast media stooges, as if it were a coinage of the most profound genius.

Now, first of all, anyone who has seen Napolitano will agree that she won’t be climbing a five-foot ladder, let alone a fifty-one foot one. Even assuming she did manage to get to the top, say by being carried up there, how would she get down the other side? Rappel? Rope ladder? Climb down a piece of clothesline? I mean, the accordion wire on the top would snag her polyester blazer and leave her dangling up there while the buzzards nibbled on her plump carcass.

But seriously, we all know that walls work admirably to prevent the kind of low-level infiltration that occurs on the Mexican border.

An excellent example, foremost upon the minds of many, is the wall built by Julius Caesar to contain the Helvetians. “..a lacu Lemanno, qui in flumen Rhodanum influit, ad montem Juram, qui fines Sequanorum ab Helvetiis dividit, milia passuum decem novem, murum in altitudinem pedum sedecim, fossamque perducit. Eo opere perfecto, praesidia disponit, castella communit, quo facilius, si se invito transire conarentur, prohibere possit.”

This wall, sixteen feet high and nineteen miles long, with a ditch, and forts at convenient intervals, sufficed to keep the savage Swiss at bay. Eventually the Swiss made a deal with the Sequani and passed through their territory, had their asses promptly kicked by Caesar, and retired back to their fondue pots and goat-wives.

An even better example, of course, is Hadrian’s wall, which marked the northern frontier of Roman Britain and worked splendidly for hundreds of years, except when local commanders withdrew the garrison to promote their own bids for the emperorship – the late Roman equivalent of jockeying in the Iowa caucuses.

The unbroken line of barbed-wire entanglements constructed by Rodolfo Graziani on the Cyrenaican-Egyptian border also worked very well at its intended purpose.

I will not waste time on such commonly-known successful examples as The Great Wall, or the Israeli security fence on “the green line” that cut attacks by Samaria-based terrorists by 90%. Analogy to the Berlin Wall is idiotic, because it was constructed by East Germany to keep its own citizens from escaping; if Mexico constructed a wall to keep its own citizens prisoner, the analogy would be apt. Cripes, there are far too many successful walls to be discussed here. Check out the
LIST OF WALLS and the SEPARATION BARRIER articles at Wikipedia for more wall mania.

Interestingly, the Romans almost invariably constructed barriers, even if only symbolic, at places where no “natural” border such as a river or mountain range existed. This resulted as much from their obsession with order as from their desire for security.

So yes, walls are extremely effective at controlling low-level infiltration. Whether the benefits of such a barrier on the Mexican border will exceed the cost of the barrier’s construction is one that could be answered easily – if politicians and journalists would shut their stupid mouths and do a little analysis instead.


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