The truth is that formal borders do not create difference — they reflect it. Elites’ continued attempts to erase borders are both futile and destructive.
Borders are in the news as never before. With Muslim refugees flooding into the European Union from the Middle East, and with terrorism on the rise, a popular revolt is taking shape against the so-called Schengen Area agreements, which give free rights of movement within Europe. The European masses are not racists, but they now apparently wish to accept Middle Eastern immigrants only to the degree that these newcomers arrive legally and promise to become European in values and outlook—protocols that the EU essentially discarded decades ago as intolerant. Europeans are relearning that the continent’s external borders mark off very different approaches to culture and society from what prevails in North Africa or the Middle East.
A similar crisis plays out in the United States, where President Obama has renounced his former opposition to amnesty by executive order. The populist pushback against unchecked immigration from Mexico, Central and South America gave rise to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump—predicated on the candidate’s promise to build an impenetrable border wall—much as the cascade of asylum-seekers into Germany has fueled opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel.