Fifty Years After the Berlin Wall, Are We Using the Same Tactics We Once Despised?

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the insurrection of the Berlin Wall.  On August 13, 1961, authorities in the communist East ordered all traffic be haulted-- and blocked-- by barbed wire, soon to be reinforced with cement. The quick decision caught many Berliners off-guard and, before they knew it, they were locked away from family, friends, jobs - from everything on the other side. It was not until November 9, 1989, that demolition work on the wall began.  In the years between, approximately 150 people died trying to cross. 

And yet, the Berlin Wall, a modern symbol of the end of an age-  the end of communism -- also symbolizes division, oppression, and extremism. 

As the Washington Post noted, "It may be one of the most famous walls in modern history, but it is far from being the only one." Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan, China and Burma, Zimbabwe and South Africa, Mexico and the United States, to name a few, still use walls to divide and control. 

As al Jazeera explains, the Berlin Wall became known as the Wall of Shame, and only recently did Germans wish to memorialize its historical importance. And yet, modern society continues to perpetuate the very idea it so vehemently opposed only fifty years ago. 

So today, as we remember the Berlin wall as a symbol of a country torn apart by ideologues, we must not forget that division is a policy  we continue to use, and are moving towards, here  in our own country. Half a decade has passed, and now, in America,  we are locked in  a similar ideological debate -the  right vs. the left  instead of  East vs. West --  with no compromise in sight.  

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at August 13, 2011, 6:46am

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