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Comment Of The Day

Mayor Villaraigosa's Very Own Border Fence: Whatever Happened to 'Bridges Not Walls'?

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Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge This land: na'cho land
  • This land: na'cho land
News of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's application for a six-foot security fence around his Windsor Square mansion took off quicker than a border coyote on the desert hustle last Friday, riling outrage from most and a "Who cares?" from few.

In the LA Weekly's comment thread, there were the obvious jokes about Villaraigosa trying to hide his "booty calls" from reporters, to more jaded expressions of disgust that a politician who once advocated for the poor and disenfranchised flipped so "limousine liberal" when handed a position of real power.

But commenter Pang441-banks was the first to point out Villaraigosa's craziest point of hypocrisy in calling for a wall between him and Los Angeles:

This is from the same guy who said fences along the border weren't needed and weren't the answer..LMAO What a wuss.

Let's take a little trip back to 2007, when U.S. immigration officials were calling for beefed-up border fencing to keep out all the undocumented workers trying to break their way into America. In May of that year, Villaraigosa traveled to Mexico to deliver a speech called "Borders Not Walls" to the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce.

Read the full text here. But the real dirt is in this excerpt:

"As everyone knows, there is an intense debate taking place in my country over the issue of immigration. There are those who believe that we North Americans can only hope to resolve this issue by building a wall. I came to Mexico to say, that we don't need to build walls, we need to build bridges. ...

The bridge we must build is not just a bridge between two countries. It is a bridge between the rich and the poor, who are imprisoned by walls of economic injustice. It is a bridge between the Indian, the Mestizo, the black, the Asian and the white, who are separated by walls of prejudice. It is a bridge between the Christian, the Muslim and the Jew, who are divided by walls of tragic misunderstanding."

His speech is actually quite gorgeous, if cheese-laden, and ends with the chilling: "And I hope one day we will be able to tell the tale that ... whenever our insecurities advised us to protect ourselves with a wall, we had the courage to build a bridge instead."

If a six-foot wall around a city-paid palace isn't insecurity over courage, we don't know what is.

The mayor's need for a divider between him and the common cityfolk with whom he always claims to identify (the "kid from East LA" line never dies) is a direct contradiction to the spirit of empathy in "Borders Not Walls." Villaraigosa's got a $220,000 salary, a security entourage worthy of a Mexican drug lord and vacation/ballgame perks the size of Sinaloa -- all while Los Angeles goes broke and jobless, and City Hall continues to waste millions on constituent-polarizing sweetheart deals and salaries.

We'll keep trying to get Villaraigosa on the phone today, but until we do, we'll offer him a small reminder: The only politicians in real, royal danger are those who treat themselves like kings. Hunker down, dude. It's about that time.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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