Will border guards shoot at you when you try to leave the United States? California Gov. Jerry Brown, D, seems to think that's a possibility worth mentioning. He had some things to say in his taped Meet the Press interview yesterday that can only be charitably described as really, really dumb.
This comment, about Trump's much-discussed border wall, especially jumped out at me as something disingenuous and even potentially dangerous, because some less educated people might take it literally or seriously:
The wall, to me, is ominous. It reminds me too much of the Berlin Wall. When I see that 30-foot wall, I worry somehow, "Are they trying to keep me in, or keep them out?"
I really think people ought to be careful because there's a lot of odor here of kind of a strongman, kind of a world where you want the ultimate leader here to be doing all this stuff. And having a wall locking the people in is one of those characteristics. I think Americans ought to be very careful when we make radical changes like a 30-foot wall keeping some in and some out.
I highly doubt Trump wants to discourage the governor from expatriating himself. And perhaps this sort of thing is on Brown's mind, because so much of California's middle class has picked up and fled to other states in the last ten years or so, such that California has suffered an overall net domestic out-migration of more than 1.5 million people since the turn of the century.
But all kidding aside, it's pretty clear from what Brown said that he's not kidding. What an incredibly stupid thing to say, regardless of how you feel about Trump's wall.
Personally, I view the wall as a silly distraction that will create a few thousand make-work jobs and only marginally increase the difficulty of illegal immigration without actually preventing it. It might change incentives for illegal immigration, but it's mostly a harmless exercise.
To suggest that it somehow threatens Americans' freedom to travel, keeping us confined within our nation's territory, or that there are plans to prevent people from leaving the United States, is just straight-up irresponsible fearmongering.
And contrary to what you might expect, this sort of talk has real-life consequences beyond just the expected eye rolls it deserves. The rhetoric about Trump's America has been so hyperbolic since November that a number of foreigners living in the U.S. felt they couldn't even afford to wait for the warmer weather to flee and illegally cross the border into Canada. As a result, some of them actually lost fingers and toes to frostbite. At least two lost all of their fingers.
Perhaps it's fair to say Trump's rhetoric played some role in these people making a terrible, life-changing decision, but by the same token the popular exaggeration of the threats of the Trump era must play at least as large a role.
Go ahead, criticize the wall, criticize Trump. But is it too much to ask for the governor of America's largest state at least to stay within the bounds of reason and reality while doing so?