Rana beat me to it. About the references in my post (in material I quoted) to “The Homeland,” Rana commented:
Am I the only one freaked out by the “the” there, and the capitalization?
I’m trying really, really hard to avoid Godwin’s Law, but it’s damn difficult when things like this issue from that man’s mouth!
No, Rana, you are not the only one. In fact, I was going to write about that in the post itself, but I couldn’t find a way to do it smoothly because it was a non sequitur from what I was discussing in the post. So I was going to write a separate post about that obnoxious usage, but Rana posted her comment, like, 10 seconds after I published!
Well, no matter. I can add to what Rana said. I get chills down my spine every time I read or hear Bushies talk about “The Homeland,” but that term is nothing new. It’s been in use since the day after 9/11. It’s part of the very name of the cabinet-level department that was created after 9/11: Homeland Security. And what it suggests is only made more offensive by the fact that it’s an accurate reflection of how the Bush administration views this country in relation to the rest of the world, and it’s also an accurate reflection of what the Bush administration has done to our freedoms and our democracy.
I don’t know why it’s taken so long, but lately I have noticed more people objecting to calling the U.S. “The Homeland.” The echoes of Nazi Germany are unmistakable. How can you not think of Hitler when you hear or read “The Homeland”?
Just a few minutes ago, while I was googling “The Homeland” to see what I could find in the way of commentary about the usage, I found this piece by Ryan Singel, who writes the “Threat Level” blog at Wired.com:
There’s No Such Thing as the Homeland
A declassified version of a new National Intelligence Estimate regarding the threat to the U.S. by terrorism was made public today, concluding that radical Islamic fundamentalist plotters are still out there and some jackasses inside the country could get radicalized enough to launch small scale attacks.An advanced class of 7th graders with access to the internet could have collectively written a more incisive report relying simply on open source documents. Danger Room’s Noah knows it and ABC’s Brian Ross sees the same thing.
In fact, what’s most notable about the report outside of its inanity, is that one single word is repeated continually through the report.
That word is “Homeland.”
Take for example, this sentence:
We assess that al-Qa’ida’s Homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets with the goal of producing mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the US population.
Overlook, if you will, the absolute banality of the observation that Al Qaeda wants to hit prominent targets in the United States with a devastating attack. (It’s about the equivalent of writing a news story that geeks with money like and buy gadgets.)
Instead, think about the use of the word “Homeland” to describe the United States. The estimate repeats the term 11 times in its meager two pages of “key findings”. That repetitions signals more than anything that this report is a document crafted for political purposes by an apparatus with a dangerous world view or at least by an apparatus headed by folks who hunger for a conflict.
People who write and think of their country as the Homeland with a capital H tend to think that they can redefine torture, ignore international treaties, fund disinformation efforts to keep morale high, launch wars based on hunches and emphasize the power of the executive branch because they consider themselves the good guys who are the only ones who know what’s right for the country. They only want to protect the Homeland, don’t you see? The vocabulary is symptomatic of a rigid, nationalistic world view.
There is no such thing as a Homeland. The United States is not Franco’s Spain, the National Socialist Party’s Germany, or Mussolini’s Italy. We do not face imminent destruction of our country or way of life.
Al Qaeda is not Nazi Germany. They are a rabid, fundamentalist religious cult that wants to roll back the modern world for the comfortable certainty of a militant religion, and the movement woos converts by exploiting legitimate and fabricated grievances against Muslims around the world. The group is fighting a rear-guard and ultimately doomed fight against the onslaught of modernity and its squadrons of lattes, fashion trends and cultural dislocations.
White Al Qaeda’s rabid and utterly predictable response to modernity was falling out of favor with most Muslims and Muslim-dominated governments throughout the Nineties, it has been re-fueled by this Administration’s historically ignorant, testosterone-and-ego-driven post 9/11 foreign policy. Any fool can see this Administration’s imperial ambitions repeat the mistakes of colonialism.
The National Intelligence Estimate, at least the unclassified version, doesn’t come out and say it, but this Administration has been feeding the animals. In fact, by using the vocabulary of Fascism, the Intelligence Community itself feeds the animals.
So please stop it already. This isn’t the Homeland. This is the United States of America. Change the words and the policy will follow.
I can’t say it better than that.