- - Tuesday, May 10, 2016

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” wrote poet Robert Frost in a meditation on the competing needs of security and freedom. Borders and boundaries disappear as Planet Earth becomes a smooth blue orb with continents divided only by the seas in the view from space, suggesting that man is one happy family.

But down at street level in the world where men and women actually live, there’s something that does love a wall. There’s a name for the society that is the dream of those say walls are no longer necessary. It’s called Utopia, and no one has ever seen it, even from space.

Secretary of State John Kerry talks as if he has been there, making the case for “no place” in a commencement address at Northeastern University in Boston: “There are no walls big enough to stop people from anywhere, tens of thousands of miles away, who are determined to take their own lives while they target others … The future demands from us something more than nostalgia for some rose-tinted version of the past that did not really exist in any case. You’re about to graduate into a complex and borderless world.”

Before going out on a limb to foretell what “the future demands,” Mr. Kerry should recall a bit of folk wisdom from Yogi Berra, the baseball immortal: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Taking a jab at Donald Trump for promising that Mexico would pay for a wall on the Rio Grande, the secretary enthused over his vision of a borderless world, and hectored those reluctant to join his flight to Utopia. Once offstage, Mr. Kerry ducked into an armored vehicle surrounded by heavily armed guards who shepherded him from one secure place to the next, and then home, where he could relax behind sturdy walls.

Real-world experience is teaching Europe the price of a borderless world. The invasion of refugees from Syria and the Middle East prompted Hungary to erect barbed wire along its border with Serbia. With its historic and picturesque cities overrun with endless streams of westbound trekkers, Austria gave a surprising election victory to its nationalist Freedom Party last Sunday, a sign that voters are disenchanted with the open borders of the governing coalition. With a population of 1 billion — double that of Europe — Africa may be the source of an unstoppable surge of immigrants in search of opportunity.

Recent statistics from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection show that a similar migration phenomenon persists on the U.S. boundary with Mexico. Unaccompanied children and families are reaching the border in numbers equal to those of 2014, with nearly 28,000 apprehended during the past six months. Children are not usually a security threat, but the instability that uncontrollable immigration brings with them certainly is.

Liberals (or “progressives”) like John Kerry may not love the walls that safeguard nations, but preaching the inevitability of a borderless world, where “defenselessness” defines danger, is a failure of leadership. It’s a fantasy we can’t afford.

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