The real wall isn't at the border

Technology is transforming boundaries around countries and erecting them around individuals

President Donald Trump wants US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) to build a wall at the southern border of the United States. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks a wall is "immoral". The fight over these slats or barriers or bricks shut down the government for more than a month and could do so again if Mr Trump isn't satisfied with the way negotiations unfold during the next three weeks.

But let's be clear: This is a disagreement about symbolism, not policy. Liberals object less to aggressive border security than to the wall's xenophobic imagery, while the administration openly revels in its political incorrectness. And when this particular episode is over, we'll still have been fighting about the wrong thing.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2019, with the headline 'The real wall isn't at the border'. Print Edition | Subscribe