Borders as metaphors and membranesMonday, January 14th, 2019
[ by Charles Cameron — i continue in the opinion that limina, thresholds borders, have an archetypal importance that transcends and is embodied in individual cases ]
With the Wall the dominating issue of the current US government shutdown, tracking the penumbra of borders is all the more important: things look very different when you squint at them.
Previous posts in this topic area:
Zenpundit, Liminality II: the serious part Zenpundit, The Korean border / no border dance Zenpundit, Borders, limina and unity
Alexis Madrigal, A Border Is Not a Wall:
Borders are an invention, and not even an especially old one. Predated by the printing press by a good 200 years, borders are constantly under revision. Even the zone of a border itself, the Supreme Court has held, extends far beyond the technical outline of a nation. Imagine a border as the human-made thing that it is, and it’s no longer surprising that it takes a multitude of forms: a line on a map, a fence, a bundle of legal agreements, a set of sensors, a room in an airport, a metaphor.
As Elia Zureik and Mark B. Salter explain in a book on policing, a controlled border creates the notion that domestic space is safe. Protecting “the border” safeguards the home, the family, and a way of life. This idea of safety is so potent that it has shut down the United States government.
But the border itself—the line on a map, or the gate at a crossing—isn’t what’s at issue; it’s the idea of the border, a membrane that defines a nation while maximizing its market power.
Dr John Sullivan‘s paper, Determining Reasonable and Proportional Use of Tear Gas offers a number of provocative insights, including the prohibition on the use of tear gases (CN> CS< CR), pepper spray (OC, capsicum), and sleeping gas on battlefields -- provocative since we normally think of battlefields as "worse" than peacetime situations, and thus that what's prohibited in wartime should be so a fortiori in times poof peace..
Here’s the border-specific instance / comment that caught my eye:
In the border control setting, the recent use of tear gas by CBP agents against migrants seeking asylum at the San Ysidro port of entry has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), among others. The cross-border issues are also controversial and Mexico has demanded an investigation into the use of nonlethal weapons in the Tijuana incident.
In another post I hope will follow quickly on the heels of this one, I quote MSNBC host Bryan WIlliams telling Jon Meacham:
if you’re going to clear those better angels of yours fo takeoff, remember the air traffic controllers are working without salaries..
That’s an interesting juxtaposition if you think about it: angels and air traffic controllers f unction in two different above-earth atmospheres — heaven and sky, respectively — which used to be one at a time when myth and history were one, astrology and astronomy, alchemy and chemistry.
Might we say there’s now a border between heaven and sky? If so, that next post can be considered an entry in this series, too.
An excellent set of photos under that title educates us via our visual sensibility on the history and variety of walls:
The current debate in the United States about building up and reinforcing the border wall with Mexico may have distinctly American roots, but the problems, and the controversial solutions, are global. Growing numbers of immigrants, terrorist activity, continued drug trafficking, and protracted wars have sparked the construction of temporary and permanent border barriers in many regions worldwide.