Mr. Louie Gohmert, who is a Republican congressman from Texas, spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives recently about the dire situation in Texas resulting from thousands of children streaming into Texas from Mexico unaccompanied by anyone and uninvited. He pointed out that the number of children infiltrated into Texas has already exceeded the number of allied troops on the beaches of Normandy on D- Day. The threat is very real, he asserted, and justifies Governor Perry taking extreme steps to preserve Texas sovereignty, including, if necessary, the use of “ships of war.”
This suggestion gives one pause at first since there is no body of water between Mexico and Texas, except the Rio Grande, which is not large enough to float a battleship or aircraft carrier. But one discovers, looking at a map, that the Atlantic Ocean abuts both countries so that a battleship could, indeed, probably command control of their border from the coast to twenty or thirty miles inland. These big ships are monsters, and they have twenty or thirty inch cannons. Nothing can stand up to them. The boom of their shells alone would probably send these kids running back home to the Dominican Republic, or Nicaragua, or wherever. I know for a fact that a lot of them are afraid of thunder because the storms they have in the Caribbean are very loud.
But I think I have found a flaw in the congressman’s reasoning. I hesitate to say so since I’m sure Mr. Gohmert is very intelligent. Otherwise, how could he have gotten elected to Congress? But even very smart people make mistakes.
Now, I don’t wish to dismiss the threat from all these children, who, if you stacked them up, would probably tower higher than the Empire State Building. I was stationed in Germany many years after the Second World War, and they were still showing movies of the Nazi Youth. These were tough kids. They could march in unison, and they sung thrilling songs. They didn’t have gay scoutmasters in those days. Not that Adolph Hitler himself was homophobic. Some of his best friends were homosexual. Some of them ran the S.A. (the Brownshirts), a low class group of thugs who helped Hitler seize power. But even Hitler’s tolerance ran out when they started walking down the street holding hands. If you’re trying to maintain a reputation as a thug, you can’t go around holding hands. Also there may have been political considerations.
In any case, Hitler got together with a bunch of S.S. (a better class of thug) and killed all the leaders of the S.A. during the “Night of the Long Knives,” although, in fact, very few knives were used. They were mostly shot. Hitler, himself, went to the apartment of his old friend Ernst Rohm and instead of shooting him outright, in a spirit of good-will he offered Rohm a loaded pistol to shoot himself. When Rohm demurred, he personally ordered Rohm shot.
“If anyone is going to shoot one of my best friends, it’s going to be me,” he declared, although, of course, he was speaking German at the time.
There are a lot of bad things you can say about Adolph Hitler, but he was a man’s man. There’s no denying that; and he didn’t back away from guns. When it came time years later for him to off himself, he used a gun, even though his girlfriend, Eva Braun, was in the next room exiting with poison, a panty-waist kind of suicide.
Hitler had a thing about guns. He built some of the biggest guns ever. He would have no trouble fixing the immigrant problem. He’d put up a line of “Big Berthas” from Brownsville to El Paso, all pointed to the border. The Texans would love it! You blow up a few kids, and, believe me, the rest would skedaddle faster than you can say “Latino.” (“Skedaddle” is an old Texan word that comes from the song, “Skeddadle in the Saddle. Whippie Aye, Aye,O.” Actually, I judge from reading the newspapers that most Texans, if they stopped to think about it, would argue against such an unwieldy and expensive solution. They lean more to a Maginot defense. A couple of thousand strategically placed pill boxes with high caliber machine guns swiveling over a 120 degree field of fire could knock off anybody sneaking across the border, young or old. But ships of war would not work.
If Mr. Gohmert had looked carefully at a map, he would have realized that the border between Texas and Mexico stretches for about a thousand miles away from the Atlantic Ocean. In order for battleships to act as a deterrent, you would have to drag them inland. Now, there are historical precedents for dragging very heavy objects across waterways and overland. Two such examples were the blocks of stone that were used to build the pyramids, and, perhaps more familiarly, the big rocks of Stonehenge. It is not entirely certain how barely civilized, although clever, peoples managed these feats; but it is thought they used heavy ropes and slippery wooden logs. I think anyone doing a fair analysis of these techniques would realize they could never work to transport a battleship. Battleships are simply too big. The biggest boat you could hope to drag inland would be a PT boat.
In order to contemplate seriously bringing even small ships of war inland, where they would be most needed, some kind of waterway would have to be constructed. Now, the United States is good at this sort of thing. We cleared away swamps and jungles in order to build the Panama Canal. But I don’t think there are any swamps in Texas. I went through basic training at San Antonio with a lot of other doctors who had been drafted, and I never saw any swamps. There was only a desert. We were trained how to cross a desert in the dead of night with only a broken compass to guide us. This was to accomplish…something. I guess this was just in case we found ourselves alone on a desert someday with nothing to guide us but a broken compass. The only thing I really learned was that it gets very dark at night in the desert. Also I saw a family of armadillos. They walk in a line like ducks. I learned in medical school that armadillos are the only other animal besides human beings to catch Leprosy. This is an interesting fact that I have always tried to work into a conversation at cocktail parties, so far without success.
If we have to build a canal between Mexico and Texas, I think we might as well go all the way and build a moat. I can immediately spot a possible objection. It is “the wall problem” but on the water. The “wall problem” states that if you build a thirty foot high wall, someone will build a thirty-one foot ladder. Similarly, if you build a moat a hundred yards wide, these kids will simply take swimming lessons. Something more is needed. There has to be something in the moat to impede swimming, something like alligators or an electric grid. It would be expensive, but there would be other advantages to a long moat, including its appeal as a tourist attraction (think Stonehenge.) Palm trees could be planted along the way, providing an environmental benefit. Ornamental lamps could be strung the whole way. They could be electrified by using small generators to tap the height differential in water between the Pacific and the Atlantic. (You can tell I’ve put a lot of thought into this. In fact, in my novel “Come One, Come All” there is a character who comes from 150 years in the future, and he has a lot to say about the Mexican and Canadian moats. This is in the restaurant section.)
Dear Mr. Gohmert, I hope I have persuaded you to think again about this problem. I know it is an unconventional idea, but with your support I think it will take on a certain credibility. With American “can do” thinking nothing is impossible. (c) Fredric Neuman Author of “Come One, Come All.”