Burt Prelutsky

There’s an old saying that suggests that good fences make for good neighbors. I couldn’t agree more. Fences may not be the total answer, but they certainly help, if only because they let you know at what point you can stop mowing the grass.

Years ago, when I had a small role in the Dick Van Dyke movie, “Cold Turkey,” I had occasion to spend a week in Iowa. Once I got out of Des Moines and into the outlying communities, I was astonished to find fences and walls were virtually nonexistent. It made for a wide open feeling, but I was left wondering how Iowans determined if they were weeding their own yard or their neighbor’s. Maybe in the Midwest, they don’t worry about things like that.

I happen to be friends with my next door neighbor, but I’m glad we’re separated by a fence. I wouldn’t want to accidentally encroach on him and, much as I like him, I wouldn’t want him encroaching on me. In California, we worry about things like that.

There are people, we all know, who oppose the whole notion of fences and walls when it comes to America’s property line. Although these folks have barriers around their own homes, they vehemently object to our nation’s having them. These knuckleheads would call the cops if a stranger strolled into their backyard, but they think it’s fine and dandy for 12 or 13 million strangers to trespass in the United States.

Quite frankly, I don’t understand this double standard. You know darn well they’d resent it if somebody came on to their property and swiped their flowers or fruit, but they think it’s perfectly okay if this crowd enters the U.S. expecting to be provided with free medical attention, free schooling, drivers licenses, welfare, and voting privileges. Yes, these hypocrites will say, but the illegal aliens are willing to work. To which I say: So what? If you came home and found a strange family in your living room, would you let them move in just because they were willing to make your bed or wash your windows?

Barriers have gotten a bad name for one reason and one reason only, and that’s the Berlin Wall. Talk about erecting a wall along America’s southern border, and like Pavlovian dogs responding to the dinner bell, these nitwits immediately bring up the cursed Wall. The thing to keep in mind about walls and fences is that, like guns, they are neither good nor bad. It all depends on their purpose. The Great China Wall, for instance, was erected in order to keep the Huns out. The fence that the Israelis have built is to keep out suicide bombers. The Berlin Wall, on the other hand, was built in order to keep East Germans from getting away.