Editor's Note: We asked readers to tell us what the idea of Homeland Security meant to them. These are some of their responses.
Genuine homeland security must be based on peace, justice, and freedom. It would be waking in the morning to a peaceful world where every person had enough clean water, healthy food, decent housing, appropriate health care, and education to be a free, productive, and fulfilled human being. It would be knowing that the people of my country had spoken up, taken action, and prevented their government and its corporate sponsors from depriving a huge percentage of humanity of these basic goods and rights. If we do not do this, we will never be secure--and the time is now.
JOAN F. WALSH, DURHAM
A system that doesn't purposely allow the Pentagon to be hit after more than a half hour's warning since the second Tower hit.
RAY UBINGER, DURHAM
Homeland Security means We, the People being secure at home and in our homeland against unwarranted search and seizure, with no warrants issued without probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the persons or things to be seized; and the security of knowing that we can SAFELY exercise our freedom of speech, the right to "petition" for redress of grievances (to complain, individually or collectively, verbally, or in writing, with or without having to hire a lawyer) when that security is threatened; to report official misconduct by sworn officers, sworn to support our Constitutional rights without the further insecurity imposed by violence, the threat of violence, or other abuses of the authority of public office by public office-holders hired to provide for the common defense, general welfare; and to SECURE the Blessings of Liberty provide by the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land, inferior laws and ordinances notwithstanding.
CHRIS TIFFANY, DURHAM
As a victim of the Bush-Ashcroft mandate--reported for reading an Independent story, "Bomb School," on a communal computer--I'm appalled at the resources wasted investigating folks who have done nothing suspicious except in the minds of hysterical busybodies. But even greater waste results from the absence of effective social services. I've been fighting since 1998 for Social Security disability--not welfare, but insurance paid for through 25 years of working. Most disabled or downtrodden people want to be productive and useful. We need just a little of the right kind of help--which is in short supply--to get there.
AMY SIMPSON, RALEIGH
Security is not about fences. Barriers cannot provide protection. Divisions promote terrorism. The greater the gap, the less secure we are. As long as Americans have and waste more of everything than the other 95 percent of humanity, security will elude us. By spending more on "defense" than the rest of the planet combined, to keep them from impinging on our way of life or "our oil," we foster the very economic and political rifts that make us the target of global disdain and extremists' terror. Security can only come with razing fences, building bridges, and becoming citizens of the world, rather than its arrogant bullies.
DANIEL COMBS, DURHAM
When I suddenly realized the White House stopped giving tours after 9-11, I knew our country was in trouble! Prudence is a word the Government must latch onto. We must not sacrifice the right of people to assemble and express their religious and philosophical views; in the name of the war on terrorism. 9-11 was an attack carried out by 20 men and their accomplices. Those individuals should be tried and convicted for murder and any other appropriate charges. We should not condemn the entire world. We as a nation are practicing religious and philosophical persecution. Can I hold a meeting in my home or church tonight expressing my views and distaste for the President of the United States without fear of government retribution? Streamlining agencies, protecting borders and nuclear power plants, that makes sense. Fear is a deadly emotion. We need to open the White House, stop pouring money into this vast wasteland called the War on Terrorism. Intelligence communities can pass on concrete threats and important information. This should not be our daily bread!
KAREN E. LAROCCO, PITTSBORO
Homeland security first means American security. Homeland tastes too much like Nazis and bigotry for comfort. American security is about dealing fairly with people in other countries. Things like treating the pollution coming from American factories in Mexico on the American border instead of pouring it, untreated, into the street or streams. Or recognizing trade unions instead of firing or murdering the trade union organizers. American security is living within the letter of the law and signing on to the International Criminal Court. Security is reducing our share of consumption of the world's resources so there is enough for everybody. Security is treating people in other countries as though they were our equals.
WENDY MICHENER, RALEIGH
When I read your ad I was surprised and confused by what it means to The Independent Weekly. I had to read it twice to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding. The purpose of this new office is simply to protect our people and prevent future attacks. It has absolutely nothing to do with "good jobs, clean air and water, health care for everyone, and the government in the public rather than the corporate interest." With any hope like-minded folks will be kept out of the way of the Office of Homeland Security and it'll complete its missions.
TONY SPENCER, RALEIGH
Webster's defines security as freedom from anxiety and freedom from want. Will our focus on fighting terrorism blind us to other issues that need our attention as a nation? If the tragedy of 9/11 brought America together, then we should be aware of the insecurities of persons who live in poverty. We need jobs that pay a wage sufficient to provide for our basic needs. I, like others, live with the anxiety of living hand-to-mouth, fearing that I'll not be able to meet the costs of living. Health care is another basic need that is unmet by my situation.
BRUCE WHEALTON JR., DURHAM
Homeland security means the absolution of domestic violence in America. It means protecting ourselves and loved ones from violent, controlling behaviors that all too often kill our souls--or worse, kill us altogether. The FBI estimates that one woman is battered by her intimate partner every 15 seconds. On average, four women are murdered by domestic violence each and every day in the United States. Homeland security means holding abusers responsible and transforming victims into survivors. It means creating a court system in which women are not abused for a second time when trying to gain protection from an abuser.
KRISTEN BURNETTE, RALEIGH
Recently, on a train from Fez to Tangier, someone said to me, "There is not much security in your country. Not like here in Morocco." I immediately felt my usually sleepy American pride awaken within me. In Morocco, most people do not have the opportunity for economic or societal advancement. Unemployment is at 17 percent and minimum wage is about $180 per month. Plus, the expense of a visa makes international relocation hopeless. For me, homeland security is the opportunity for people of all backgrounds to have a chance at advancement, a chance to make the American Dream a reality.
MARGUERITTE CHAPMAN, DURHAM
Homeland security means having a moral leadership in Washington. A leadership that recognizes that it has a duty, as all governments do, not only to its countrymen, but to the rest of the world as well. Homeland security means that our leadership pays attention to the rest of the world, whether that involves economic, environmental, or humanitarian issues. It means our government does not ignore the advice and wishes of the rest of the world in regards to Iraq, or any other country. Or turn a cold shoulder to the best of the rest--our allies--who, one and all (Tony Blair's late rah-rah not withstanding) urge us not to intervene. Homeland security means truth, not propaganda.
JIM BREEDEN, DURHAM
Homeland Security means educated young people who can distinguish right from wrong, understand history, see through the corporate slogans and political rhetoric, make informed choices based on critical and creative thinking skills learned at home or school, and be open to understanding different points of view. The golden rule, or its equivalent in any religion, involving strong ethical standards that allow tolerance for different views and lifestyles, is needed for democracy.
JOY HEWETT, PITTSBORO
What will make me feel more secure is to have our Bill of Rights intact. Eroding our freedoms--speech, religion, legal, etc.--in the name of security is not safe. Nazi Germany and the USSR took away essential liberties and their people were less safe as a result. Ben Franklin said it beautifully: "Those who will give up essential liberty to secure a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
MARY PHYLLIS HORN, PITTSBORO
Homeland Security is the idyllic life that Americans long for--the American Dream. Some people live it, some people lose it, some people dream of it, everyone has heard of it. American dreaming means a lot of different things. It's a series of still-framed memories of sultry summer days in the South, of seeing America from a foreign land and being glad that the Grace of God was kind to you. It's watching your child grow to manhood, praying that America would never again be touched by war and that your child, like your world, is safe.
TARA BRANDON, CARY
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to put down on paper what Homeland (In)Security means to me. I love your "Real" definition of what Homeland Security should mean--good jobs, clean air and water, health care for everyone, and government in the public rather than the corporate interest. Ditto. Let's get real, here. However, the Bush administration far outreaches Germany's Third Reich and Hitler's storm troopers' approach. The WAR ON TERRORISTS needs to "oust" President Bush, not Sudan Insane (who?). America's superiority complex must go!! To put it lightly, we have gotten too big for our own britches and need to be brought down a NOTCH OR TWO, this first anniversary of 911. P.S. You get the hell outta Dodge!
MARY UBEGONE, FUQUAY-VARINA
I think of homeland security in the context of meeting basic human needs, clean air, clean water, healthy food, and shelter. Agriculture is at the core of meeting these needs, thus a secure homeland should be based on a local and organic agricultural system. Local, because most of our food comes from a centralized processing system, traveling thousands of miles before it reaches our plates, which makes it very vulnerable. Organic, because organic agriculture provides food and fiber products while protecting our water, air, and soil. It prohibits the use of synthetic fertilizers, which can be used to make bombs.
TONY KLEESE, CHAPEL HILL
On Sept. 10, the U.S. government will lock up my father-in-law in a federal prison for six months. His crime? Crossing the line at last year's School of the Americas protest at Fort Benning, Georgia. A 58-year-old Presbyterian minister, Erik Johnson was one of the 80 or so arrested at the annual protest as he knelt and prayed for the closing the school. For me, our government's talk of security sounds worse than a bad joke when they see fit to imprison my one-year-old daughter's grandfather while continuing to train Columbian soldiers how best to kill their own people. Close the SOA, our homeland terrorist camp, incarcerate its instructors, and then talk to me about security.
SETH ELLIOTT, CARRBORO
True Security = True Independence. While no rationale can excuse the murderous martyrdom of the 9-11 attackers, until our government stops exploiting both our own and other people worldwide, we can actually expect terrorism to increase in both frequency and intensity. "No justice, no peace" is not a war cry but a statement about human nature. Oppress people long and hard enough, and they WILL fight back. True progressives and "Independents" need to reject BOTH the oil executives now in the White House AND the misleading leftists who march on Washington begging for this or that crumb, then march into the voting booth to support whatever corporate-owned minion the Democrats offer, as well as reject the divide and conquer strategies that keep We the People from joining together to challenge both parties in the only place they care about--the voting booth--i.e., the wallet. "Homeland Security" to me means all the things progressives fight for--liberty and justice for all, democracy, clean air and water, job security, organized labor, a truly free market, a decent standard of living for all, including affordable housing and healthcare--none of which can happen on any grand scale so long as the truth of the adage that "the one who pays the piper calls the tune" continues to play out in the corporate-owned two-party system now in near-absolute power. This is not just me preaching about my pet passion, it is my statement about WHY "Independence" is my pet passion--for without it, we can be neither safe nor free.
CLIFTON TROY TOTH, DURHAM