Sunday, October 1, 2006

Canada: Our Enemy North of the Adirondacks?

Today Jessica Doyle over at Blog Herald has an interesting piece on plans to wall us off from our “neighbors” to the north. It’s a lengthy piece with lots of quotes, but here is the jist:

The U.S. Homeland Security Department announced Thursday that it will be installing high-tech devices along the border with Canada as part of a multibillion-dollar plan to reduce illegal entry into the United States.

Under the new plan, Canada’s border with the U.S. will, within three years, be patrolled by cameras, sensors, unmarked planes and watchtowers.

Apparently they are planning to install as many as 900 watchtowers along the Canadian border. Watchtowers! We can’t even think of a watchtower without calling to mind the Irish Pale, the Berlin Wall, and Internment Camps.

In the first step of the multibillion-dollar plan, the U.S. will implement the technology along a 45-kilometre stretch of border near Tucson, Ariz. This will be followed with similar security measures along the Canadian border.

A $67-million US contract was awarded to Boeing Co. for the implementation of the initial stages of the project.

Folks – who are we kidding besides ourselves. The idea of sealing off the longest undefended border in the world is ridiculous – it’s no wonder they gave the contract to one of America’s preeminent fear mongers and war profiteers.

Here’s a prediction – once the wall is built there will be a steady escalation in the criminality assigned to border-crossers until they start shooting them for leaving one country or the other without the “proper papers.” When the Berlin Wall was in action the zone between countries became known as the “death strip.”

Thousands managed to escape through or over the wall, which divided the city of Berlin for 28 years. But hundreds died trying to flee to the West before the wall fell [17] years ago — on November 9, 1989.

Some 5,000 East Germans escaped into West Berlin, often resorting to extraordinary means. They hid in hollowed out compartments in automobiles. Others swam, dug tunnels or piloted flying machines to freedom. One slid down a high tension line. Another hid between a pair of surfboards.

More than 170 of those killed trying to escape died in the Death Strip, where armed East German guards had orders to shoot to kill.

The most shocking failed attempt took place on August 17, 1962. Peter Fechter, an 18-year-old apprentice mason, broke for freedom across the Death Strip. East German bullets stopped his flight at the base of the wall. For 50 minutes he lay unaided, moaning, “Help me.”

West Berliners shouted “Murderers!” at the guards, hurled stones at U.S. military vehicles and threw first-aid supplies to Fechter.

Though the shootings are probably still some time away, here is the current problem for a region that depends on Canadian tourists and free trade with our LOCAL neighbors:

I think many Canadians are scared today. so scared that my Mom will not fly through the States on a much shorter route to reach Vancouver from NB to visit me. So scared that my two friends would not travel through the States driving from Vancouver Fredericton en route to live in Vancouver. I don’t believe that we are scared of the citizens of the US. I am not. But maybe we are scared that we won’t be able to get back home.

I feel the same way about the thought I taking a drive to Montreal – will they confuse me with a terrorist?

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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.




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