James Christie: Walking the Mexican Wall

Trump's border wall

Trump's border wall

You wouldn’t think Donald Trump’s ludicrous bombast re building a border between the     U. S. and Mexico (plus the primary elections now taking place in Ohio, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois which might just give him the platform to put his bonkers idea into practise) would have much to do with some middle-aged Asperger whose biggest journey, these days, seems to be to go buy crisps at the local Co-op in Biggar. And forget     to get cat food.

You wouldn’t be quite right there.

3rd US trip 426In another day, in another life, I went (like Gene Autry) south of the border, down Mexico way. Crossing America for the last time in November 2013, I cruised into El Paso on Amtrak’s Texas Eagle, stopped over at the Camino Real and, realizing that life is short and chances scarce, took my nerves in my hands and crossed the bridge over the Rio Grande to Ciudad Juárez (once, with its drug cartels and gang wars, charmingly dubbed the murder capital of the world), spent precisely ten wary minutes there, on the way back had some photos deleted from my camera by a pleasant Homeland Security officer after I recorded    the logjam of cars trying to get into town and, profoundly relieved that I hadn’t run into difficulties (I was carrying a British passport, which might not have been as familiar to Mexican eyes as an American one), bought myself a new belt at Starr’s Western Wear       and felt pretty pleased with myself.

I lit out the next day for Albuquerque, going Greyhound with gritted teeth.

Not that all this was easy for an Autist. To this day, the “back-up hardware” installed            (I believe) in my head during a year-long working holiday in Australia still has to work     like hell to help me set out my next steps, and what may seem like an easy adventure for a happy-go-lucky neuro-typical sure things will work out still, for me, feel like a trip through   a hell of interlocking bureaucratic barriers, all of which are quite happy to stop me dead     and disallow me passage.

3rd US trip 418And that hellish paranoia isn’t always wrong. Some days later, I boarded the Southwest Chief at Needles, California. A lady I’d been chatting to assumed she could pay upon boarding.  She was wrong and she stayed on at the station. At midnight.

Round about then, President Obama wasn’t doing too badly. Re-elected in 2012, he was trying to increase gun control after Sandy Hook, lobby for gay Americans’ rights and restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. At the time I lit out for Albuquerque, his approval ratings were about 39%. Not great, but not bad for a president after five years in office.

I think, if I could hop into that TARDIS I keep in the back garden and jaunt back and tell   my younger self that, not three years later, a bombastic real-estate billionaire with a bad combover would be bucking to take Obama’s place on the strength of campaign policies which included a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, deportation of all illegal immigrants and, most xenophobic of all, the construction of a massive border wall between Mexico and America (presumably in place of the bridge over which I walked), backed up by his claim that “the Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States – in many cases criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”; I believe my earlier alter ego would truly wonder from which fantasy world I hailed, and perform an      eye roll worthy of Buffy at her best…

3rd US trip 414Well, I hear that Ciudad Juárez is cleaning up its drug cartels and decreasing its murder rate, and while I can hardly claim to have complete knowledge of everyone with whom I was crossing the bridge, people were most definitely walking both ways, the existing border controls were strictly enforced, and quite a few Mexican-Americans work on one side of the border and live on the other. As Andrew Rice of The New York Times once put it, “its fluid social ecosystem still retains something unique and emblematic and perhaps worth saving.”

The idea that a cartoon clown with fascist policies can somehow just roll down a wall between El Paso and Juárez (there’s already a fence) would be funny if Trump was not  doing so well. As I write, he’s won the North Carolina, Illinois and Florida primaries and  sent Marco Rubio spinning down to defeat, but lost to John Kasich in Ohio.

 That’s not a final lock on the Republican nomination for the White House, but he’s close.
If the cartoon clown wins, my friends, of one thing you can be sure: Trump won’t make America great again, and the circus won’t be coming to town.

Trump the cartoon clown

James Christie, March, 2016.

James Christie is the author of Dear Miss Landau and The Legend of John Macnab. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism, at the age of 37 in 2002. He lives in the Scottish Borders.

James Christie's blog: Why Stop the One Stop Autism Shop?
James Christie: Thorns Upon a Rose

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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