On this date, July 20, in 1969, man first walked on the moon.
How many of you can quote the words American astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke as he stepped onto the lunar surface? You got it: “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”
The Apollo 11 mission insignia was designed by astronaut Michael Collins, who piloted the command spacecraft. He selected an American eagle with an olive branch in its talons, reaching out in peace.
Cut to July 2016, when Republicans have embraced Donald Trump’s idea of building a “huge wall” to shut out Mexico.
“The idea of a border fence has been in our platform for many, many years,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told Fox News, “and just changing the word from fence to wall is . . . maybe a little hat tip to Donald Trump on this issue.”
By all means, let’s tip our hats to the Donald for a brilliant idea that won’t happen in a million years. A 1,000-mile wall along the border with Mexico that would involve deporting 11 million people, endanger vital water-sharing treaties and cost us billions of dollars? Oh that’s right, Mexico will pay for it!
Why would it? Because Mexicans trust Trump’s good will?
“Latinos love me,” Trump has gloated, despite a June ABC/Washington Post poll showing that 89 percent of Hispanic voters view him negatively. Across the border, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto showed his love by comparing Trump with Hitler and Mussolini.
So now the GOP 2016 platform includes Trump’s fantasy of a walled fortress, as Republicans who favor reasonable immigration reform are cowed into silence. One exception is Jeb Bush, who told MSNBC that Trump’s wall idea is “some alternative universe he created.”
Things have changed since 1969. Terrorism is a real threat, but it’s not coming from Mexico. The increase in Mexican illegal immigration is just one more Trump falsehood — it has slowed dramatically, says Pew Research Center.
Meanwhile, what message are we sending to our Mexican neighbors? Do we really want to symbolically replace the olive branch held by the American eagle on Apollo 11 with a drone?
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.