Letter: The wall according to Mencken

Published: 2/10/2019 12:01:10 AM

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” This quote from H.L. Mencken came to mind after reading Chuck Douglas’s opinion piece about the border wall in the Monitor. I don’t often agree with Mr. Douglas, but on the matter of the border wall, I applauded every point in his piece.

First, because he made it clear that building the wall will require taking, through eminent domain, thousands of parcels of private land. Even if you think that’s okay, it isn’t a process that is done quickly and easily, as Douglas pointed out when observing that the court battles over taking would very likely stretch out for years.

Second, the Rio Grande, like most Western rivers, looks like a placid little stream during the dry seasons and is an enormous raging torrent when it’s wet. In recent years southern Texas has seen storms that dropped nearly an entire year’s worth of rain in a couple of days, flooding tens of thousands of normally dry acres. Buildings, bridges and walls don’t often survive such floods intact. Ironically, Donald Trump issued an executive order early in his term rescinding an Obama order that federal agencies rebuilding after major floods consider increased flooding projections caused by climate change when engineering replacement projects. So the wall would be destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed again. Brilliant.

H.L. Mencken didn’t know about the wall, but his quote couldn’t be more apt.



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