Privacy SOS

On August 5, 2002 President George Bush stated, “We’re fighting…to secure freedom in the homeland.” Strikingly, he did not use the word nation, or Republic – but instead adopted a term with overtones of blood, land and loyalty for a country that was not the ancestral home of most of its citizens. 

Three months later, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 was passed. It created the massive Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an amalgam of 22 agencies and nearly 200,000 employees, who were stripped of many of their trade union rights when they were folded into the new agency. The FBI and CIA remained outside the DHS. The military in October 2002 created its own Northern Command (NORTHCOM) to defend the “homeland.”

Critics dispute the now standard government use of the term “homeland” on the grounds that it echoes the “fatherland” of fascist Germany.

As Roger Cohen wrote about the post 9/11 period in his New York Times column of September 3, 2007: 

The United States was not previously a homeland, it was just our land, and that unhappy neologism with its Orwellian echoes, its sense of exclusion rather than inclusion, its faint fatherland-like echoes, seems to capture the closing and the menace and the terror-terror refrain with which we have all learned to live.

The 21st century President has become a father figure protecting the homeland.  President Obama has frequently stated that his primary responsibility is protecting the American people. But according to the US Constitution, the most important responsibility of the President is to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” 

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.