If you’ve seen the movie, “Star Gate” you’ll remember this.
We build this gigantic circular doodad within another, slightly larger circular doodad. And the whole thing is plugged into a 110V outlet in the wall of our secret complex. (Surge protector?) The thingy is turned on, and the doodads spin in opposite directions, faster and faster. That’s supposed to create some special, unknown force. White light appears, and our neatly uniformed heroes bravely march through the spinning circles and abruptly disappear. They are transported through space and time to another world, thousands of light years away, where one race has enslaved another. Our determined and decent people free the oppressed cave-type people, teach them how to shower (my addition to the screenplay) and at the end of the tale, we triumphantly return home, happier for the experience. Hollywood, at its most predictable.
Not terribly far away from Studio City, (442.4 miles according to Google’s finest) is the sleepy little town of Why, Arizona. The name stems from the letter, “Y” in our alphabet because the town of Why is at the intersection of two Arizona highways, 85 and 86. At their junction, 85 meanders a bit to the southwest, while 86 angles to the southeast and hence, an upside-down “Y” is formed at their junction on a map. Arizona state law demands that every town and city name have at least three letters, so naming this tiny metropolis “Y” was not possible. The town was, therefore, ceremoniously named, “Why.”
Saturday Night Live might have a field day joking about Why, Arizona, as in, “Why would we live there, in Why?” or perhaps Abbott and Costello (if you’re under fifty, you’re saying, “Who?” right now) would best do the routine.
“I’d like you to tell me where you live,” asks Abbott.
“Why,” answers Costello.
“Just answer the question, please,” adds Abbott.
“Why,” continues Costello.
“C’mon, don’t give me a hard time,” pleads Abbott. “Just please answer the question.”
“Why,” states Costello, a bit more flustered.
And a token gesture to great comedy,
“Okay, I know who’s on first, and the left fielder’s name?”
“What?” you might now ask. Correct response, “Nope, he’s on second.”
According to the 2016 census, Why had a declared population of 174 people, up from 116 as noted in the year 2000 census. That’s a statistical increase of precisely fifty percent in that sixteen-year-period, so from all appearances, things are really booming in Why.
Please bear with me.
The town of Why is located in Pima County near the western border of the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation and north of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Why is roughly thirty miles north of the Mexican border and the adjacent towns of Lukeville, Arizona and Sonoyta in Sonora, Mexico. Lukeville had 35 people living there according to the year 2000 census, and it’s essentially little more than a border crossing entry point (maybe once in a while someone actually goes south there, but probably not), so it appears that Why is to Lukeville as Manhattan is to Lick Skillet, Alabama.
My cousin and his wife visited Why on a road trip. They opted not to stay overnight at the W Hotel (couldn’t resist fabricating a “W” in the town of “Y”), and yes, the only actual accommodations in the area are nowhere near the town of Why. Granny’s Kitchen is ten miles from there, in Ajo, if you’re curious, and the food there is reported to be quite good. Okay, Little Italy it’s not.
My family members drove south from Why for thirty miles to the Mexican border.
To the fence.
And there, they got out of their car and walked to the gate.
To the gate in the fence. More a chain link door than a gate, actually.
And they noticed it was unlocked. With his wife snapping photos, my cousin brazenly opened the gate and visited Mexico. He stood for a few minutes on that nation’s soil, took a deep breath of Mexican air, and returned quickly to the United States.
He closed the unlockable gate behind him and they drove on.
Five billion dollars for 215 miles of border wall, for a border that spans more than 1,900 miles.
Barely ten percent coverage. If that were a head of hair, it would be legally bald.
Some things that are annoying me …
Ignoring flawed systems and existing fences with doorways and somehow claiming isolated pockets of expensive new border wall will enhance our national security.
Pressing on with a declaration of a “national emergency”, a concept that will most assuredly be rejected in Congress or the courts, only so that a president can look into the cameras and claim that he tried to keep his promise to the American people.
Playing politics at their very worst, in the Oval Office and in Congress.
Allowing the flow of undocumented aliens to enter this nation unabatedly, with or without half a wall.
And permitting the same type half-wits who built a fence near Why with an unlocked gate designed into it to continue to control elements of our security. The current proposal isn’t even half a wall, or even twenty-five percent of a wall. The proposed new wall doesn’t have ends that culminate in deep ocean waters; its ends end on dry land, and the footprints in the sand around our walls will tell the story of a continuing run on America. Our new walls don’t even have middles. Gaping holes without barriers, lapses in logic and construction, and perhaps our newest walls will even have gates, similar to the one my cousin walked through before he and his wife found their way out of Why.
Choose some words … ludicrous, illogical, incomplete, perplexing, incompetent. They all apply equally.
And then, there is the matter of racial profiling. Don’t dare tell me that all those who strive to enter this nation from Mexico are murderers and drug dealers. Don’t tell me they are unilaterally evil people who want something for nothing. If the White House can generalize, then so can I. Mexican workers have the best work ethic of any group I’ve had the privilege to observe. They are, in the main, diligent and respectful, most have a deep sense of family and they have strong religious convictions. They work with integrity for their wages, take on tasks many of us might feel are beneath us, and they have solid plans, hopes, and dreams. Should we open our borders and allow a tidal wave? Of course not. But to call this group of people undesirable is similar to putting identical labels on our neighbors to the north, the generally quite civilized citizens of Canada, unless you’re discussing hockey, of course.
I am in favor of allowing people from other nations into this country by following a rigid analytical and verification process, and mistakes will nonetheless be made. But a wall, unless it is mighty and cannot be breached or walked around, is more a political statement than an engineering accomplishment.
There are flaws in the wall of freedom, as we must surely admit. And above it are inscribed the words, “Designed by Donald Trump.” These doors to mediocrity must be closed and sealed, if we are to have a wall at all.
Design from a photo by Jackie Watt/Unsplash.
Alan N. Levy is the author of the geo-political thriller, The Tenth Plague, which Kirkus Reviews calls, “a bombastic and cinematic thriller … A fleet and dramatic … tale of global conflict.” The novel is available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and your local bookstore.