The Name of Our Country is the United States, Not “The Homeland”

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

By Ryan Singel EmailJuly 17, 2007 | 3:43:03 PM

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.

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28 Comments

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28 responses to “The Name of Our Country is the United States, Not “The Homeland”

  1. Why don’t we just call it what they really want: “The Fatherland.” Or Der Vaterland in the original German.

  2. amish451

    “Change the words and …”

    In the paragraph that begins: “Al Qaeda is not Nazi Germany …” replace Muslim with Christian in the portion ” ….legitimate and fabricated grievences……”, rings familiar doesn’t it …
    “Homeland” the vocabulary of Fascism indeed …

  3. We assess that al-Qa’ida’s Homeland plotting

    Aside from all the other relevant points, using “homeland” the way it is used in the above sentence is grammatically confusing. It reads as though al-Qaeda is plotting something for their homeland. Hence, I suppose, the capital H, which is meant to convey our One True Homeland–yeesh. Even still, it makes no sense.

    In the above sentence, the proper country’s name (in this case: USA) should be used. In terms like “Homeland Security,” the correct adjective, which should be used in lieu of “homeland,” is “domestic.”

    I can only guess that “domestic” was ruled too womany for the manly men of the Bush brigade.

  4. Jersey

    I wrote a long post just yesterday about it to but thought it went on too long and I referenced Hitler’s Fatherland but cancelled the post. Glad I’m not the only one.

  5. I totally agree. The first time I heard the term I felt sick and hoped it was an isolated usage. And don’t be surprised if it sticks around after the current fucker leaves office. We are saddled with that baggage I’m afraid.

  6. Me too. It gave me the creeps the first time I heard it, and has given me the creeps every time I’ve heard it since. It’s sends a silent shiver down my spine, and I, for one, believe that the choice of this words, and its fascist echoes, was entirely intentional when the title “Homeland Security” was adopted.

  7. Oh fer fuck’s sake — just ignore the mis-spelling in that last post. I think you catch my drift. Jesus H Particular Christ, I feel stupid today!

  8. oddjob

    I loathe the name, and while I almost never discuss the matter with anyone, the very few with whom I have discussed it like it no better.

    Oh, and while “der Vaterland” is one way to write it, “the Motherland” is no better. That’s the historic way in which Russians refer to their country, so for those of us who are old enough to have the Soviet Union as a part of our childhood, “the Motherland” sounds just as tyrannical as “the Fatherland” does.

  9. I despise it. Always have, always will. I hear it and expect the Republican Congressvolk to begin singing “The Horst Wessel Song” at the drop of a hat. Canada had better watch out; these clowns may start mumbling about Lebensraum next.

  10. farmergiles

    Just another bit of Newspeak. A significant and particularly early one.

    When I first heard it in late 2001, I thought it was just more ham-handed PR from the Bush crew. I did not then realize the full extent of what we would get over the next six years. I could never understand how no one seemed to get the irony. It WAS like something straight out of a Thirties/Forties dictatorship, whether Left or Right. Or a Thirties/Forties movie about a dictatorship, whether Left or Right.

    I strongly suspect now it was part of the plan from Day One. I still cannot hear the term and not smile.

  11. Yesterday I happened to catch Randi Rhodes reading a potion of the NIE. The word Homeland has been a sticking point for me since the Bushies started using it as part of their propaganda toolbox. When I heard Randi repeat it over and over in the NIE summary, it really struck me that’s it’s so unlike how Americans speak.

    I was driving at the time, so I had to wait to work on a post about it. I even scribbled Homeland/NIE on one of those pink post-its that I used to defile Holy Joe last night. (Thanks for the link, Melissa!)

    Now I don’t have to write the post, I can link to Kathy – excellent work, Kathy!

    And I think it’s interesting how squeamish we’ve become about using Hitler references since the Republicans, who HATE polically correct speech, have made it politically incorrect to make Hitler/NAZI references. I’m guilty of the squeamishness. I was trying to figure out how to write my post without making a reference and was coming up with nothing.

  12. oddjob

    I think it’s useful to remember that fascism is not always synonymous with Nazism. There have been many different fascist dictatorships, but only one was Hitler. What were/are all those dictatorships in other countries?

    Fascism is more complex than that. It’s not always Nazi.

  13. boatboy_srq

    The H Word didn’t impress me from the first time ShrubCo used it, except to inspire fear for the nation and loathing of its adopters.

    Given the implications of the term, and thinking back to Shrub’s first comments on “guest workers” and other immigration issues and on the fiasco our foreign policy has become, I’m just waiting for the [mal]administration to try annexing Mexico and Iraq for lebensraum.

  14. Rana posted her comment, like, 10 seconds after I published!

    Hee. Thanks for giving me a laugh – a relief from this horrible development.

    I think it’s probably not coincidence that most of the people who make up Bush’s administration were either directly involved in, or inspired by, or grew up shaped by, the Cold War. They automatically think of things in big antagonistic superpower terms, terms that are increasingly irrelevant as the world fragments and re-unites in ways that would have puzzled people fifty years ago.

    I can’t decide whether the use of such reductive, knee-jerk jingoistic concepts like “the Homeland” are examples of petrified, or wishful, thinking.

    Either way, I really wish they’d stop. It makes me increasingly fearful that 2008 will indeed see these people out of office. I’m doubtful, even if that happens, that we’ll see them out of power.

    And is it just me, or has the last 10-15 years or so consisted of concerted Republican efforts to neuter all of our most powerful cultural and legal weapons? We can’t speak of Nazis, or fascists, or bring up impeachment, or discuss liberalism, without falling into the negative frames that they’ve spent so much energy promoting.

  15. WhattheH

    delurking briefly to reply to Canada and Mexico Lebensraum comments. It’s already happening in a very secretive way. It’s called “Deep Integration”. There have been many hush hush meetings and a lot of Canadians are very upset about it. Don’t know about the Mexicans, but they should be as well.
    Anyway, to the topic, Homeland, Fatherland, Motherland – all fascist nomenclature and an indication of where your and perhaps my country (if it succeeds in your country) is headed. Scares the bejeesus out of me and most of the people I know.
    Keep up the good work folks. Back to lurking.

  16. I can only guess that “domestic” was ruled too womany for the manly men of the Bush brigade.

    Holy crap, you’re right! I never even thought of that before. But there’s another proto-fascistic tendency for you: hyper-masculinism.

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  18. Erin M

    The translation does echo a bit, but it’s interesting how Germany actually translates the term homeland security: Heimatschutz, which carries a relatively benign connotation (Heimat being something like “land of one’s ancestors” in connotation), though an equivalent department here would certainly be called Innenschutz (domestic security) or, more likely, die Polizei (the police). Oh, right. That last one is the group handling terrorist threats.

  19. Chief

    Definition of fascism:

    dictatorial movement: any movement, tendency, or ideology that favors dictatorial government, centralized control of private enterprise, repression of all opposition, and extreme nationalism
    Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    So, even tho you and I may be true patriots, doesn’t mean that the administration and its’ base are not fascists. They fit all the parts except “centralized control of private enterprise.”

    I have believed that these folks were fascists for at least five years, with their fear mongering and color codes et al.

  20. Arkades

    Aside from all the other relevant points, using “homeland” the way it is used in the above sentence is grammatically confusing. It reads as though al-Qaeda is plotting something for their homeland.

    That immediately occurred to me, too… a definite case of dysfunctional deixis!

  21. amish451

    “…Fascism is more complex than that. It’s not always Nazis…”
    “……their concerted effort to neuter…” any opposition …
    They (this administration and the loyal bushies) continue, with the aid of the Liberal MSM, to attempt to define the Left; who we are, what we believe, what we are allowed to believe ……..

  22. oddjob

    I have believed that these folks were fascists for at least five years, with their fear mongering and color codes et al.

    Likewise. I remember a few years back making this observation to the Dark Wraith over at his blog, and he agreed.

  23. i hatehateHATE that name!

    every time i hear some gov type use it i use to gag and cringe at the same time. then i moved on to dred. now, it makes me furious that there are people that actually think that the word is a good one.

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  28. Thank you for blogging about this, I am going to write about it also. When I first read the *new* NIE report, the first thing I noticed was the use of the world “Homeland”. I counted them – 11. I went back and checked other NIE declassified reports. The number of usages of the word “Homeland” in previous reports was 3 or 4, for a much longer document.

    The Bush administration does nothing by accident. This means something. I just can’t figure out what. The word Homeland is definitely a Nazi term. Lately Bush has been claiming unheard-of executive powers. Think about it everyone.

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