‘Home­land’ in­se­cu­rity

The Washington Post - - WASHINGTON FORUM -

In his April 17 op-ed, “We don’t call it Na­tion­al­ists’ Day,” E. J. Dionne Jr. fa­vored pa­tri­o­tism over na­tion­al­ism as an im­pulse less likely to de­volve into ag­gres­sive trib­al­ism. To me, both har­bor equal dan­gers; hy­per­na­tion­al­ism pro­motes war, while chau­vin­ism keeps blood and trea­sure flow­ing to the Front. Both ex­ag­ger­ate se­cu­rity and sti­fle dis­sent.

Nei­ther, how­ever, is as in­sid­i­ous as “home­land,” which en­tered our lex­i­con force­fully af­ter the Sept. 11, 2001, at­tacks. It was meant to fo­cus at­ten­tion on at­tacks here rather than abroad — Pearl Har­bor rather than Tehran. But it’s a loaded term, con­not­ing a sin­gle, exclusive cul­ture. That’s why the Ger­man equiv­a­lent, “Heimat,” was stressed by Joseph Goebbels over the more tra­di­tional “Vater­land.” The home­land is where you have an age-old right to be, where your blood re­la­tions (“Volk”) have their roots and peo­ple with­out those roots don’t re­ally be­long. It’s what Serbs and Croats fought for in the Home­land Wars fol­low­ing Josip Broz Tito’s death. It’s not the plu­ral­is­tic na­tion of im­mi­grants we Amer­i­cans call home. And, frankly, it sends shiv­ers up my spine. Robert D. Croog, Chevy Chase

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