In 1987, President Ronald Reagan gave a speech in the shadow of the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate, imploring the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to “tear down this wall”. Two years later, it came down as a democratic revolution swept over the Warsaw Pact countries within the course of about 5 months.
The Berlin Wall wasn’t just a physical barrier. It was symbolic – it was the very embodiment of the East’s lack of freedom. It prevented its prisoners from visiting the West, where they would certainly come quickly to realize the inferiority of the brutal totalitarian state in which they lived. It was also one of the most brutally fortified de facto international frontiers in existence.
During the Berlin Wall’s 1963 – 1989 history, there were 5,000 escape attempts and 239 people perished trying to escape a communist totalitarian dictatorship and make a better, freer life in the West.
In 2007, a group of non-profits and community activists calling itself the “Waterfront Coalition” drenched itself in offensiveness and irony.
In order to protest one “wall” – the bermed Route 5 – the Waterfront Coalition purchased space on an actual wall. A billboard.
The billboard asks Governor Spitzer to “tear down this wall”. Evidently, it’s referring to Route 5, and not the billboard itself.
In making its point, the Waterfront Coalition invokes Reagan’s 1987 speech.
I will withhold, for now, comment on the substance of the Waterfront Coalition’s 40-minute long press conference where a representative from every. single. member. group. felt compelled to speak. WNYMedia will have video of that up later today.
But to equate Route 5 with the Berlin Wall is one thing and one thing only: an outrage.
Has Route 5 murdered or purged tens of millions of innocent people? Is Route 5 peppered with guardposts from which snipers target hapless pedestrians trying to cross from swamp to weeds? Is the grassy area between Route 5 and the incomprehensible maze that passes for Fuhrmann Boulevard laden with tank traps and mines to prevent progress or murder pedestrians?
To equate a bermed Route 5 – or even the Skyway, for that matter – with the Berlin Wall is absolute and utter bullshit, and those people who thought it would be pithy and on-point should be f*cking ashamed of themselves.
The only thing Route 5 is a barrier to is people’s views of the grain elevators and the Clean Water Act violation that runs around them.
Oh, and incidentally, the Riverkeeper once released this rendering of a “Citizen’s [sic] Vision for the Lakefront”:
Yes, that’s the Skyway and a bermed Route 5 in there.