Today, at a public hearing for the Enviornmental Impact Statement for the proposed border wall, I read this statement:

 

As a military veteran who served four tours of duty to the Middle-East, I would like to address the Department of Homeland Security about the topic of security. While I was a sergeant, I was honored to serve with young men and women who sacrificed greatly for this country.  Like me, most came from humble homes of modest means where they learned how to work hard, get along with others, and sacrifice for the greater good.  While we were not the wealthiest or most educated, I feel that our platoon included some of the best people I had ever known.  Specialist Muñoz-Marin was not yet a citizen of the United States.  Sergeant Munguia, the greatest soldier I have ever known, was the son, brother, and cousin of family who had crossed the border illegally

            But regardless of family background, the common thread among the best of these soldiers was the reason for their service.  It affected the way they served.  These were the soldiers who volunteered for the tough assignments, even for the extra tours of duty.  That reason was this: they weren’t mainly trying to protect their own interest, their home land, or even their family.  Instead, they were trying to protect the idea and aspiration of America itself.  They were protecting what America means, what it is.  They weren’t guarding Betsy Ross, apple pie, or baseball; they were protecting something even more American than those things.  They were protecting liberty, equality, and democracy.  And while I have since come to understand the futility of war as a tool of liberty and democracy, I acknowledge that our best soldiers are serving with the understanding that what it means to be an American soldier is to sacrifice personal security in order to preserve liberty.

            So as someone who repeatedly made that trade, because that is what it means to be an American soldier, learning that my government would so cheaply surrender our liberty in favor of security is terrifying.

            I say terrifying because of the idea of terror and tierra—earth.  This wall, we are told, must be understood in a post-9/11-world.  It is, they say, a proper defense against terrorism.  But tumbling towers are not the only causes of trembling tierra.  Terrorism is not the only thing that threatens to pull the rug out from under us.  The very liberty which our soldiers are defending will erode from under their feet if we build this wall this way.

Indeed, nothing could be less American.  This wall this way erodes our bedrock values by changing us from one of the liberating allies of West Berlin to the Communist isolationists of East Berlin.  This wall this way erodes our fundamental identity by changing us from post-Martin Luther King America to pre-Ming Dynasty China.

            When you next see him, please tell Mr. Chertoff that the more zealously he pushes this forward, the more quickly he advances, the more responsibility will fall on his personal shoulders.  No lie can live forever and when truth crushed to earth has risen again, his zeal may earn him a legacy like Bull Connor of Birmingham.   As fellow humans, we extend to Mr. Chertoff our love and forgiveness.  Please, sir, do not trample our rights.

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