Category Archives: H

Framing Homeland Security

Empires tend to view their homelands as the privileged center and other territories as less privileged.

If I could, I would rename the Department of Homeland Security. To my mind at least, the word homeland belongs to the vocabulary of empire, not democracy. For example, Hitler considered Germany to be his nation’s “fatherland” and therefore the center of his empire, not the limit of his empire. After World War II, Stalin created the Eastern Bloc in part to protect the Russian “motherland.” The name Department of Homeland Security implies that the United States is a global empire that distinguishes between its “homeland” and countries outside the “homeland” but that nonetheless it rules.

This thinking privileges the “homeland” over other areas that the government sees as within its jurisdiction. While US government generally must give its citizens (i.e. people born or naturalized in the “homeland”) due process when suspected of crimes, laws now allow Uncle Sam to execute foreigners (and sometimes citizens) that he suspects of terrorist crimes with drones without due process when they are outside the “homeland.” This double standard denies the idea of universal human rights. (See, e.g., Article 3 and Articles 5-10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.)

I’d like DHS renamed as the Department of Public Safety. This name removes the hint of imperialism while asserting the responsibility and ability to protect the public.

What do you think? Should DHS get a new name? If so, what should it be?