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Monday, October 09, 2006


Mexico: arbiter of taste

Inspiration: Mexico May Take Fence Dispute to U.N.
Images: whitehouse.gov, Reuters, Google Images

Mexican foreign secretary, Luis Ernesto Derbez has denounced the US plan to build a 700 mile fence along the US-Mexico border and has threatened to take the issue up with the UN. Though just about everyone in Mexico opposes the fence, Derbez is the first to voice a desire to get the UN involved. I suppose Derbez hasn't realized how hopelessly ineffectual the UN actually is. I'm sure the world would be better served if the UN were to focus their ineffectual efforts on humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, instead of mediating non-violent disputes between neighbors.

Speaking of neighbors, if your neighbor wanted to build an ugly fence blocking your view of her/his bedroom, there would be little you could do about it as long as the fence was built on her/his side of the property line. However, if your neighbor's fence was unusually tall or was especially ugly, then you could possibly sue him/her under public nuisance laws. Could Mexico sue the US for an ugly fence? Which court would hear the case? The Mexican government would likely have no legal ground on which to stand.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not in favor of the fence at all. I spent many an I-10 road trip with my parents staring out the window in awe, thinking, "Cool, that's Mexico," right before realizing, with some disappointment, "Oh, it looks like Texas." Not only would the fence take away this opportunity for bored children to learn an important life lesson (that we are more alike than we think), but the fence would also be ugly. Who is going to design it? The Department of Homeland Security, in charge of construction, is spending too much money fighting the 'war on terror' to hire Philippe Starck or anyone with good taste -- though anyone with good taste would oppose building the fence in the first place.

This opposition would leave us with architects and engineers on the government's payroll, and we already know how talented they are. Anyone remember the lovely, sound structures (pictured left) built by the Army Core of Engineers down in Louisiana? The Mexicans shouldn't worry then, since they'll probably just be able to give the fence a good shove to knock it down. I fear the government may be forced to turn to the trusty volunteers from the Minutemen, who have, of late, been occupied with the construction of their own border fences on privately held land in Southern California and Arizona (pictured right). Sadly, building militia compounds in the desert does not actually make you qualified to design the enormous public structure that will proudly stand as a symbol of the desperate xenophobia of our great nation -- oh wait, maybe it does.

Not only will the border fence inevitably be ugly, it will also be onerously expensive. Fence proponents estimate that construction will cost a little over $2 billion. Opponents insist the true cost could be as much as $9 billion. No matter who you believe, this fence will not be cheap. Imagine other worthy uses of, say, $5 billion: rebuilding New Orleans; food aid to developing nations; medical research; even something as mundane as investing in Social Security or making a payment on the national debt. Apparently, none of these issues is as important to the government as keeping the Mexicans out. Those useless Mexicans, who do nothing but pick the lettuce for your salad, serve you that salad, clean your home or office, build your home or office, and care for your children, all while putting their own children through school.tijuana border

The answer to the fence question is clear: Mexico should push a UN resolution that would ban ugly structures from being constructed along borders. Forcefully exposing one's neighbors to aesthetically offensive structures should be seen as an act of malevolence and aggression. Perhaps the resolution could borrow some of the anti-torture language from the Geneva Convention. Any questionable border construction projects should be evaluated by a UN peacekeeping design team. Because all stylish celebrities support the UN, this emergency design team would inevitably be superior to any team employed by the US government. The Minutemen won't stand a chance once Brad Pitt is put in charge.

amazing post!
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