How far have we progressed since the time of our ancient warring ancestors? It struck me we haven’t come very far. Oh, we have weapons that can destroy large portions of the planet, probably the whole planet. We can deliver destruction to targets specific, from thousands of miles away. We can fire off cruise missiles that are not as specific but can get close. We have the capability of mass destruction.
Do we have the armor of protection? President Reagan dallied in a space program they thought might protect us from random missiles. We haven’t heard anything about that program recently. It is evident our protective devices are not as advanced as our offensive weapons. So, what are we resorting to? The ancient defense of walls.
When Israel began to build the wall to keep Palestinian suicide bombers out of its territory, I thought it was just a device to make entry more difficult. The bombers might still get in, but it would be harder to achieve their goal. It was a defensive measure.
The Great Wall of China was one of the more successful walls. It was begun in the fourth century B.C. and was built continually for many years. It stretches for more than 1500 miles. It is the greatest building enterprise ever undertaken by man. It served its purpose for hundreds of years. It was not breached until the 16th and 17th century. It survives today, mainly as an attraction for visiting tourists. It ultimately failed to keep intruders out. It never accounted for airplanes.
In August of 2004 we began to erect walls around some public and private institutions on our east coast. This is not a new defense. During the Crusades cities were captured and walled defenses constructed. From behind a stout wall the enemy could easily be repelled. Their only recourse was to siege the city, often for years, before entry could be gained.
In WWII, the Germans sieged the Russian city of Stalingrad. After a sustained battle, the walls finally collapsed. The German army had achieved victory. They had possession of Stalingrad. Then the Russians sieged the city now occupied by the Germans. It was a win lose situation for the Germans. The German army was abandoned by the German high command. The Russian army took Stalingrad back. They destroyed the entire German army that had won the first battle for the city.
Russia protected itself from the intrusion of western culture. Too slow any exodus to west Berlin; they constructed the Berlin Wall. It lasted a decade and probably served its intended purpose for a short time. In the end, it was torn down. Its destruction didn’t put the idea of walled defenses to rest.
In New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. we walled up our public buildings and the financial centers of the world to protect them from the terrorist enemy. You can’t build a wall high enough to protect against destruction from the air.
We are also walling up personal liberties guaranteed to the people of the United States of America by our Constitution. Our personal freedoms, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, are being invaded. Habeas corpus is being incarcerated. It will soon be put in a protective glass case, placed in a museum to be admired by future generations. It will not be allowed outside of the glass case to protect the rights of our citizens. We are sieging our precious freedoms.
FDR said, “All we have to fear is fear itself,” I understood what he meant. We had to suppress our fears in the fight for our rights and the precious freedoms we have attained. Now, we are catering to our fear of evil doers. We are meekly allowing our personal rights to be walled up and our freedoms sieged because of fear of a terrorist enemy.
Freedom cannot be proportioned. A man cannot be partially free. Freedom is an unconditional state. Let us battle until our last breath and never allow conditions to be placed upon our most precious heritage, freedom. The Bill of Rights is the solid rock of a free society. It was never meant to be re-sculpted by the cunning of politicians. Walls do not protect they only impede progress. Let them not sing to us of democracy for all mankind, while they wall up our rights in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
John Robinson of Hamilton has written his "Musings" column for the Ravalli Republic for many years.