Scott Nicol on the wall

Author Scott Nicol penned an excellent opinion piece on the U.S. border wall in a recent edition of The Christian Science Monitor called “Costly fence on US-Mexico border is effective – only in hurting nature.” In two pages, Nicol manages to expose the folly of the barrier in terms of its cost in both dollars and in environmental damage.

I found the following passage the most compelling:

In our current political discourse, the border is not a real place, with flesh-and-blood residents and living ecosystems that our nation’s laws were meant to protect. Instead it has become a blank screen upon which the nation’s fears of drugs, poverty, and terrorism can be projected.

Here, Nicol eloquently describes ideas I am investigating in my walls project. The walls – not just along the US-Mexico border, but along all the boundaries I’ve visited – tend to negate the people who live near them. When ‘flesh-and-blood’ proves inconvenient it is thusly ignored. Just ask the Palestinian villagers living in the shadow of the West Bank wall. Or the Saharawi refugees on the wrong side of the berm. Or fruit farmers along India’s border with Bangladesh who are actually referred to as ‘zero people.’

And when Nicol likens the border to a screen, he refers to the fiction of border security. The walls, here and elsewhere, act as theatre. The walls fail to protect, but succeed in manifesting fear in concrete and steel.

Scott Nicol is the founder of No Border Wall and writes frequently for The Huffington Post. (Once he even commented on my blog). I am grateful for his knowledgeable and eloquent criticism of the border.