Skip to main content

The front door of the White House was unlocked. In the middle of the day! How crazy is that? It’s as if the clown occupying our nation’s First Home was raised in Mayberry, getting home safety lessons from Sheriff Andy.

White House Break in 2014

What kind of message are we giving our children and sending to the world with this President’s “open door” policy? Can you imagine George Bailey encouraging the citizens of Bedford Falls­­­­ to leave their doors unlocked against their neighbors? When Mr. Deeds went to Washington and extolled the merits of citizens who wrote letters to Congress, you can’t believe that he would have wanted any of those citizens to find unlocked doors on congressional offices, if they followed up a letter with a visit.

Robert Frost told us that “good fences make good neighbors”. And the White House has good fences. The White House fences are sturdy enough to block most intruders, including attacking vehicles. But they are also open iron works rather than solid walls, letting people look at the nation’s First Home and watch the comings and goings of those who preside over, and those who seek to influence, government.

Such open fences remind the world that, unlike so many other governments, past and present, ours is a government open to its people; open to scrutiny; open to criticism; open to participation.

Perhaps not participation by climbing over the fence and rushing in to ceremonial rooms of the building. But even though such participation isn’t allowed, the fences are not topped with the barbed wire that symbolizes imprisonment more than security. By climbing over the White House fence, Mr. Gonzalez has shown us, as the Israelis already know, and border fence proponents still have to learn, a fence is never sufficient against those who feel unjustly excluded.

Looks can be deceiving. The White House is surrounded by beautiful wide lawns and gardens. These lend an air of openness to outside observers, and should convey a sense of secure perimeter to those working inside. Did they make Mr. Gonzalez believe that his dramatic gesture of an open field run from the fence would end in a takedown or shooting long before he reached the building?

Was the failure to lace Mr. Gonzalez with hundreds of bullets as he ran to the White House a sign of failure or triumph by the Secret Service? Many Tea Bag Republican congressmen lament the Secret Service’s failure to impose a “2nd Amendment” solution on the fence jumper. But by taking him into custody without a shot fired, the Secret Service made possible extended interrogation and analysis of what weakness in White House security had been observable by a would-be intruder. Which is more valuable to the nation: A bloody intruder’s corpse for the evening news, or a frustrated would-be intruder in custody answering questions about his planning and goals?

An open front door on the White House is a sign of our strength, not any weakness. And that open door, secured by competent fencing and Secret Service personnel is as powerful a symbol for the world as Lady Liberty.

For some Tea Bag Republican politicians, the bloody corpse is certainly preferable. For all the blather about Moslem terrorist threats, the reality is that fundagelical “christians” are the ones who keep murdering women’s health care providers and blowing up buildings and mailing letters full of anthrax and ricin. Tea Bag Republicans would much prefer that right wing attackers end up dead martyrs than talkative captives.

Mr. Gonzalez is reputedly a veteran of our colonial wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, or both. Now that he is in custody rather than in the morgue, we may learn whether he, like so many other veterans, is also a victim of those wars. Perhaps a victim of the Tea Bag Republican claim that our Veteran’s Administration is bloated and over funded. Or that veterans, once their utility as battlefield drones has been compromised, should fend for themselves, without our grateful assistance. By capturing, instead of killing Mr. Gonzalez the Secret Service gives us a chance to find out. And it may have given Mr. Gonzalez a public voice that he could never wield as a mere veteran, or as a corpse.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

What does it say about our society that Mr. Gonzalez needed to rush the White House to get heard? Had he tried to speak to his congressman? With what result? Is his congressmen one of those who proclaims devotion to the needs of our veterans? Was his office door locked when Mr. Gonzalez tried to reach him.

The White House door was not locked to Mr. Gonzalez. It is one of those terrible things that contrasts President Obama from the Tea Bagger congress. Every Tea Bag Republican knows that politicians’ doors should be locked against all but the lobbyist, the corporation seeking to buy a lucrative contract and the friendly broadcaster promising a puff piece. Even the steps to the locked door should be regularly swept of the poor, the occupier rabble, protesters and journalists looking for facts.

Even while distorting John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon, Ronald Reagan said of the ‘shining city on the hill’, “and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it and see it still.”

Although the White House door is unlocked, it isn’t besieged by lines of Avon ladies, Jehovah’s Witnesses or vacuum cleaner salesmen. It is a symbol of our nation’s belief that we offer a better way; that our freedom is inherently more secure. It is a symbol that gains importance in times of danger and strife, as President Kennedy told us in 1961, “We are committing ourselves to tasks of statecraft no less fantastic than that of governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beset as it was then by terror without and disorder within.”

We are told, daily, that we have so much to fear, we face so many threats, we must bolt our doors and seal our windows with duct tape. But the unlocked front door, like the iron fence instead of a high stone wall, should remind us that the lives of Bedford Falls and Mayberry and of the Massachusetts Bay colonists to whom John Winthrop preached, were aspirational, reminding us of what we dreamed of being or becoming.

We should not submit ourselves to the terrible fear that our free and open system of government can’t survive today’s threats, even the threat of one wounded veteran armed with a pocket knife. We get daily harangues about how we are threatened by EVERYTHING. We are not merely at risk from ISIS and Ebola, but also from Feminazis, Dreamers, migrant children, clean air regulations, evolution, and teaching accurate history. A few years ago, we were being assured that our nation was going to be destroyed by ebonics and “the gay agenda”.

tom hall

But as President Kennedy reminded us, our Puritan colonists were “beset…by terror without and disorder within.” The governments of all the seceding states warned their citizens that freedom for their slaves meant the end of civilization. In the Roaring 20s, businesses and government scared us with tales of “reds” under every bed. And in the ‘30s, powerful corporate leaders preached that Hitler was an unstoppable force, with whom we needed to join, or face submission.

When we hear that ISIS is contracting with the Mexican drug lords to smuggle weaponized ebola over our borders, we need to remember that fear mongering is a business and that it prospers by lying to us. If ISIS had weaponized ebola, wouldn’t they be using it on Israel and Iran, since Jews and Shiites are equally evil to ISIS eyes, rather than trying to smuggle it here? If our secret, Jewish cabal controlled CIA or Pentagon had weaponized ebola, wouldn’t we be using it against ISIS, instead of the planes, bombs and boobs on the ground that we are using?

The Cleaver and Cartwright and Ricardo families reminded us that we are brave, confident people who want our neighborhoods to be safe enough to leave doors unlocked. An open front door on the White House is a sign of our strength, not any weakness. And that open door, secured by competent fencing and Secret Service personnel is as powerful a symbol for the world as Lady Liberty in New York harbor. Don’t let the fear mongers sell you any doubt about that.

Tom Hall

Tom Hall