Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has called for an end to former President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico, pointing to the Iron Curtain’s effectiveness in preventing residents of Soviet-aligned countries from fleeing their communist regimes.
The longtime Iowa senator made the comments in a video posted on Twitter Thursday by PatriotTechs, which describes itself as a group of researchers seeking to expose right-wing extremism. Grassley, who is running for his eighth term, reiterated his support for one of the most defining and divisive ambitions of Trump’s presidency. But he also called for another border wall that Cold War-era US presidents wanted removed.
Trump and other Republicans have argued that a wall along the US southern border is needed to control the flow of immigrants to prevent drugs and gangs from entering the country.
“When you have an open border, you don’t really have a country because sovereignty is tied to saying who can come to America or not come to America, just like any other country,” Grassley said in the video. “And when people say, ‘Walls don’t work,’ ask the people who put up the Iron Curtain 70 years ago.”
The Iron Curtain was the political and economic border that divided Europe into the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence and the Western countries and the Eastern countries associated with the NATO alliance. This border included an extensive network of physical barriers including fences, walls, minefields, and watch towers designed to prevent the escape of Eastern Europeans.
The Berlin Wall, which divided the eastern and western parts of the German city, was also part of that boundary. The wall became a symbol of the divide between the democratic West and the communist East, and was condemned by President John F. Kennedy in a 1963 speech.
Janice Weiner, a Democratic candidate for the Iowa Legislature, responded to Grassley’s comments on Twitter, saying, “That’s the argument East German communists would have made.”
“I was there when the Berlin Wall came down – people hate the wall. They want to tear down the barrier. Remember Reagan? Tear down that wall, Mr. Gorbachev?”
Weiner was referring to how President Ronald Reagan called for the removal of the wall in a 1987 speech in West Berlin, denouncing it as a “stain” and “a tool for imposing the will of a totalitarian state on ordinary men and women.”
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Reagan famously claimed in the speech, calling out then-Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is seen as a pivotal moment in the fall of the Soviet Union and the lifting of the Iron Curtain.
Chris Vickery, a digital security researcher, noted on Twitter that “monuments are now there to remind us all how horrible the Iron Curtain was.”
“The monument is to remind the future that this is not a solution,” he said. “This is an abomination and should never have happened.”
Newsweek Grassley’s office has been reached for comment.