Homeland

HOMELAND…. Concerns about the name of the Department of Homeland Security were raised briefly in 2002, but it was relegated to a semantic afterthought in the midst of a broader debate. I was pleased, then, to see Peggy Noonan bring it up yesterday in her Wall Street Journal column.

By the way, [Barack Obama] should both reorder the Department of Homeland Security, that hopeless bureaucracy, and change its name. Homeland is a Nazi-ish word, not an American concept at all. And at this point “Homeland Security” is associated more with pointless harassment than safety. No one knows who came up with it.

As I recall, it was Joe Lieberman.

In any case, Noonan’s point is well taken. There’s nothing in the American tradition about references to the “homeland,” and the name has always struck a dissonant note for me. What are the alternatives? Tim Fernholz is on the case:

“Homeland” reeks of a European-style ethnic nationalism, a kind of jus sanguinis that we’ve never embraced in the United States and never should. Call it the Domestic Security Agency, call it the Department of National Security, anything but what it is. It’s a small thing, but it’s a season of bipartisanship and I’ll find my consensus where I may.

Works for me.