what’s in a name: the department of homeland security

The Department of Homeland Security is a division of the U.S. government. In it, you’ll find the president’s personal bodyguards. You’ll also find the people who decided full-sized bottles of shampoo posed a serious threat to airline passengers.

One thing you should know about the DHS, if you don’t know it already, is that it was named shortly after a major terrorist attack on the United States. Don’t tell the terrorists, but Americans were scared as hell.

Let’s look at the two words that matter here: homeland and security. Homeland! Wholesome, isn’t it? Like a wheat farm in simpler times. A wood stove and some lard biscuits. Right? It’s warm and comforting and most importantly safe, which brings us to “security.”

The Department of Homeland Security is supposed to make you feel safe and warm in your little farmhouse with a heavily-armed security detail outside. Whether it’s actually keeping you safe is a whole separate discussion, and if you want to have that discussion, you have to clear this hurdle first: People want to feel safe, and nuance doesn’t play well with frightened people.