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Department of Homeland Security: designed for fascism and [redacted] his favorite tool

2020-07-25
photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Articles in The New Yorker online by Masha Gessen and others on July 25 demonstrate with shocking clarity how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was designed to become the strong arm of a police state.  First, the very word “Homeland” evokes terror by describing our country as an endangered nation, beset by enemies from within and without.

This essay in The New York Times Magazine from April 10, 2016 explains that “The word points to a world of solidarity forged through blood ties, through ancient ritual and legend.”  The “homeland” is not just our country– it is the white nationalist conception of a homogenous, race-limited nation that belongs to people who look like the Europeans who first colonized the Americas in the early 1500’s.

The DHS was designed to bring together all the agencies that defended the “homeland” from individuals who have bad intentions, infiltrators with designs to do harm.  First, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was changed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with “naturalization” (bringing in and adding members to our country) removed.

Masha Gessen’s article specifically compares the US today to the USSR of his birth and early life.  The KGB is the closest parallel to DHS now.  Born of fear, it attempts to engender fear in those it designates as “enemies”– in Portland, they are the demonstrators who attack the federal courthouse.  When they are together, they are too strong to oppose.  So the agents wait until the protestors are alone, dispersing to their cars.

Using unmarked, rented vehicles, dressed in anonymous “military” fatigues without identifying marks except for the word “Police”, they have kidnapped individual protestors and held them without charge.  They are released when the agents realize that there is nothing that they can “pin” on them and they can’t be intimidated into snitching on their comrades.

The leaders of these agencies are “acting” political appointees who are unaccountable to anyone except the president.  They are loyal and believe in what they are doing.  They are, technically, illegal– because they have been serving too long under statute and are supposed to be confirmed by the Senate.

Yet the law that governs their appointments cannot be enforced.  No-one will hold them to account.  Masha Gessen concludes:

… we are watching the perfect and perhaps inevitable combination of a domestic-security superagency and a President who rejects all mechanisms of accountability, including the Senate confirmation process. What we are also seeing is a perfect storm of fear: the legacy of fear cultivated in the wake of 9/11, and the fear that Trump campaigned on in 2016 and continues to campaign on now.

The fear of that “other”– the nineteen hijackers who commandeered four airplanes and steered them into three buildings– permeated the atmosphere that led to President Bush creating the DHS.  We must reject fear.  We must stand up for the rights of individuals to band together and act fearlessly to stop the aggression that tries to destroy what we have built.

Just as the passengers of Flight 93 banded together to stop the four hijackers, we must band together and stop the hijacking of our country by fear that leads to police statism.  I advocate for “defunding” DHS.  We must reduce its funds and redirect most of them to a better purpose: building our country better.  We must not give in to fear by letting the bullies take control.

Surely, the DHS could serve as a coordinating agency instead of a secret police force.  There’s no reason to think that we need a superagency that takes over control of our most important functions and perverts them into a police state.

To take the example which was used when DHS was created, a ship that sailed into US waters could be stopped by the Coast Guard.  But the people on board had to be dealt with by INS; the potentially dangerous cargo had to be inspected by the Agriculture Department or Customs and Border Protection.  All DHS has to do is coordinate the activities of these agencies.  There is no need to create an agency which replaces them all.

We don’t need a KGB that can be driven by politicians who want to make points with fearful voters by “othering” people who are simply trying to express dissent.  That’s what we have right now in DHS, and [redacted] is using it to vilify dissenters.  The US Marshal’s Service by itself can protect the federal courthouse from vandalism.  The local police can control crowds without resorting to weaponry that is designed to maim or choke people.

We need to go in a different direction.  We need to protect the rights of everyone in this country, natives and foreigners alike, to speak up and demand change.  We can do it.  Here are a few often-spoken words from leaders of the past: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  And (a paraphrase): “If we are willing to give up liberty for the sake of a little security, then we deserve neither.”

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