Thursday, January 8, 2009

Just Remember ...

... drugs fund terrorism. Repeat after me: drugs fund terrorism. This was the message of Homeland Security, U.S.A., which was as foul a piece of propaganda as I've seen in a while. I watched it with my immigration lawyer way who periodically exploded in outrage at the heavy-handed narration and its countless assumptions, including the reminder that drugs fund terrorism. Of course, the narrator forgot to intone solemnly that sometimes drugs fund huge houses, kickass cars, and a sweet lifestyle. What we see is someone arrested for drug smuggling; what we're told is that we just saw funding for terrorism interrupted. What we see is mule after mule going down; what we're told is that we're fighting the war on terrorism.

The only part that didn't outrage either my wife or I beyond the time wasted was the Swiss belly dancer who was coming to the States on a tourist visa, but she wanted to look for work as a belly dancer while here. Her detention and refusal of entry was all reasonable if a bit silly, and it was obviously in the show to lighten the mood between the strikes on Bin Laden's funding through border drug raids. But is this what the Department of Homeland Security is for? To protect us from the Swiss and their pernicious plot to take jobs away from hard working American belly dancers? Is that really a national priority?

The show's particularly galling in New Orleans because FEMA was put under the Department of Homeland Security when the department was created after 9/11. Protecting the borders and fighting terrorism one belly dancer at a time was made the priority as FEMA was financially and bureaucratically weakened. And we saw where that got us. The country was left unable to respond to disaster so that we could hire more border cops who perform routine police business and bust low-level drug traffickers.

Troy Patterson's review at is a nice introduction to the writing that has circulated about the show, including a link to Jeffery Goldberg's story for The Atlantic on the ease with which he got forbidden items through airport security - a necessary counterbalance to the bathetic monologue from an airport security drone who won't let any illegal items get through on his watch because all these people, all these travelers - they're his responsibility. They're like his children.

... and drugs fund terrorism.

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