Have you seen it yet, Trump's border wall meant to safeguard some 20 miles of New Mexico's southern border? At a groundbreaking event this week, US Border Patrol agents presented photographs of a mock-up, categorizing the design as a “bollard-style wall.” According to all definitions, that's a contradiction in terms.

You can't argue with a dictionary definition

A bollard is a short vertical post usually installed at intervals to rope off traffic islands. That's it. Yet the agents claim that the “bollard-style” fulfills Trump's campaign promise. It doesn't.

Not even close. What he said was, “We will build a great wall...an impenetrable, powerful, tall, beautiful wall.” Merriam Webster defines a wall as “a high thick masonry structure, a rampart.” According to the dictionary definition of a bollard, what we're getting is a fence.

With the hyping of a wall comes great expectations

The way Trump talked up the wall, “impenetrable, powerful, tall, beautiful” – you would think we were expected to imagine the luxurious lines of the glazed blue tiled Walls of Babylon that rose 320 feet to ward off invaders - or the 5,500-foot long stonework known as the Great Wall of China that protected the land from marauding tribes.

Fortifications that fell make for a cautionary tale

Words matter.

When you pitch a wall as “impenetrable,” famous ones that didn't stand up come to mind like the tall, thick Walls of Jericho felled by the sound of trumpets. Or the Wailing Wall, which makes clear that there's no such thing as an “impenetrable” wall. Consider its history. After two temples were destroyed,s, Herod, Jerusalem's governor, built a third temple with a rampart made of stone to defend it.

Yet it was razed by Titus when he conquered the city. What's left - the Wailing Wall” - owes its name to the tears of those who lost their temples. Given the destruction of a great stone wall, what can we expect from a bollard border?

Changing times can raze the most reinforced fortification

Sometimes the politics of the day can bring down a wall.

I'm thinking of the one in Berlin, which is distinguished today by artwork painted on a remnant still standing. Now a veritable outdoor gallery, the Berlin Wall has become Germany's top tourist destination. It goes without saying that there can be no pictures painted on a bollard fence.

The moral of the story isn't about empty promises

To be fair, Trump can't be blamed for failing to build a wall he promised. Congress wouldn't give him the $25 billion he needed and the $1.6 billion he got is earmarked for border security and fencing. Mexico didn't give him what he wanted, either. So it's understandable that a fence is all we can get. But here's the thing. There's no excuse for telling a lie and saying a fence is a wall.

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