What really is a “wall”? A giant brick monstrosity intruding on the horizon? A see-through steel fence featuring “artistically designed steel slats”? An affront to God himself? If you said “a high thick masonry structure forming a long rampart or an enclosure chiefly for defense,” congrats—you’re a nerd (or the dictionary).
Trump’s promise to “build the wall” never really included any concrete (sorry) details, in fact, the whole thing started as a mnemonic device to help him remember to be “tough” on immigration in his speeches. So the wall is essentially whatever Trump says it is, though his attempts to define it have been met with scorn and mockery from his supporters and critics alike.
The wall really represents the same thing to both groups—a barrier that metaphorically and physically separates the United States from Mexico. (The former is kind of possible, but stupid and wasteful, and the latter is impossible, stupid, and wasteful.)
It’s the metaphorical “wall” that matters the most to both groups. It’s a vanity/ego project for Trump, a security blanket for his supporters, and a racist, amoral boondoggle to his critics. That’s why the debate over “the wall” is so stupid and seems to be turning Republicans’ brains into mush.
Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell got to the crux of the wall debate and in doing so inspired what’s been called “the dumbest tweet of 2019”:
My favorite part of the conservative outrage responses to this tweet is the “but the Berlin Wall was to keep people in” argument. Missing ENTIRELY that a wall is a wall no matter what side of it you are on. It’s medieval. It’s a symbol of “us and not us.” And that is not U.S.— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) January 6, 2019
Swalwell’s point (to any rational person) is that we, as Americans, should not be walling our country off from our allies and trading partners. Seems pretty clear, but then again conservatives are pretty good at completely missing the point.
Swalwell’s tweet knocked something loose in the brain of conservative writer Dan McLaughlin and this gem rattled out of his skull (which, if I’m judging by his avi pic and using his excruciating literalism, is a baseball):
The Vietnam Memorial Wall is also a wall. So is the Wailing Wall. So is the Green Monster. If you are against all walls regardless of purpose or function, you are against houses, churches & hospitals. https://t.co/ift9ENiBww— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) January 7, 2019
Got that? Can’t be against a massive, expensive, needless border wall unless you hate all walls INCLUDING THE ONES IN YOUR OWN HOME! (My god, we’ve been surrounded by our enemies this entire time!)
(Also, fun fact, conservatives were very, very angry about the Vietnam War Memorial wall, but obviously no one with two brain cells to rub together thought that meant they were against “walls”).
On an otherwise slow morning (but not like “Dan McLaughlin slow”) the radioactively stupid take united the leftwing Twittersphere in a good old-fashioned dunkfest:
state of the argument from the right: If you're really against walls, how will your house not fall down? https://t.co/noOeprsn9z— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 8, 2019
All the Sicko Libs out there are saying they don’t like Walls, yet their homes and workplaces are held up using the very same structures they claim to dislike? pic.twitter.com/iHvQAEAgXF— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) January 8, 2019
attention libs: eat some of this logic pie https://t.co/WfjwdzXPL3— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) January 8, 2019
Well, here it is, the early frontrunner for dumbest tweet of 2019 https://t.co/SKU9DoJ5M2— David Klion (@DavidKlion) January 8, 2019
Sometimes the counter argument is so strong that you have to concede defeat. Time to bring the Green Monster down south. https://t.co/hMDv2ShetB— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) January 8, 2019
Incredible defense of the wall from what appears to be the mind of a 4th grader https://t.co/3uf1hx3aN3— jordan (@JordanUhl) January 8, 2019
Put ? the ? Vietnam ? Memorial ? at ? the ? Southern ? border! https://t.co/Ka9ovAkdBv— Jon (@JonEHecht) January 8, 2019
This is the All Lives Matter of ... walls. All Walls Matter. Yikes. https://t.co/Yyd85DZZI8— Mx. AC Dumlao (they/them) (@mxacdumlao) January 8, 2019
I am dumber for reading this tweet. https://t.co/hDdkbiQWX1— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) January 8, 2019
The Killing is a Netflix show. And "killing" at a comedy club means you did a great job. So if you are against killing regardless of purpose or function, you are against serial dramas on Netflix and doing a great job at comedy. https://t.co/EeFu5VWIoH— Riane Konc (@theillustrious) January 8, 2019
“The Libs say they are against Walls—but what about the Gastrointestinal Wall, which protects vital organs from the corrosive effects of digestive enzymes? Check and Mate." https://t.co/g51MDA8yjR— Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono) January 8, 2019
*sees everyone opposing Trump proposal to set hyenas on folks crossing the border*— CalmTomb (@CalmTomb) January 8, 2019
I guess some people just don’t like animals.https://t.co/BUrHUxCW7y
McLaughlin didn’t back away from his jaw-droopingly stupid take, but he did try to narrow and re-frame his argument to make it slightly less stupid (but still just amazingly stupid):
And here we go with the "all in defending Swalwell's logic."— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) January 8, 2019
I still have not found anyone to defend "a wall is a wall no matter what side of it you are on" as a case that there is no possible logical difference between the current fencing at the Mexican border & the Berlin Wall https://t.co/laKkRRmB5L
Again, no one is making the argument that the current fencing = Berlin Wall. Democrats have voted for increased border security, cameras, drones, and, yes, even physical barriers where they’re needed. Walling (or fencing) off the entire southern border is impractical, wasteful, and very very very stupid. It’s also racist because the intent is to send a message to our non-white neighbors that we don’t trust them.
Right now the wall really only exists in the fevered minds of his supporters, and we should keep it that way.