‘Home is Where the Heart is’: Homeland vs. Heartland

Of the Orwellian responses to 9/11, ‘Homeland Security’ is the worst.

The phrase brings to mind a great-coated soldier with a German police dog at his left side and a carbine on his right. And, of course, one thinks of the Fascist and Communist regimes that used protecting the ‘homeland’ to justify their security apparatus.

Worse, in our highly mobile nation of immigrants the word expressed the deep fear of the different and different places. But worst of all, it expressed a focus on the American extremities, not the American heart.

The Heartland, from the Appalachians to the Rockies – where farmers grew crops and raised animals, where machinists built parts for industries around the world, and where small towns and cities nurtured the classes who operated the country and fought its wars – was now acknowledged to be just a place one flew over after clearing security.

‘Homeland’ states the reality of the Nixon-Reagan-Bush success in destroying unions and the political structures they fostered by encouraging off-shoring. Their intellectual and moral enablers were the Free Trade economists of both parties and their acolyte, Bill Clinton. And, the entire effort received the logistical and financial support of America’s international and soon-to-be transnational corporations.

In words, the result of this 40 year effort include: ‘structural’ unemployment; rapidly increasing personal wealth disparities; the transfer of technology and expertise to low-cost regions; our inability to replace either in other fields; the shift in wealth and political power from government to shadow governments – corporations.

In images, take a look at this photo essay on Cairo, Illinois. Cairo is the heart of the heartland, at the pulsing confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. It is a ghost town.

One could go on about Cairo’s significance. But in a list this fact might not appear: it is about 35 miles down river from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the hometown of Rush Limbaugh – and my doppelgänger, Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter D. Kinder. It is also the hometown of KinderMorgan CEO Richard Kinder, an Enron executive Ken Lay forced out before the scandal. He worked in Limbaugh’s family law firm.

Hence, few places are more central geographically, socially and politically than Cairo and its surroundings. It is worth the effort to understand its past and present and to grapple with its future.


H/T: Jotham Kinder for passing on the link to the Cairo site.

Other heartland pictures on TheBell.us: http://photographythebell.photoshelter.com/gallery/Ohio-22nd-31st-May-2010/G0000x6ZJy1xyYvY/  See also my notes on Ohio, especially ‘Bare Ruined Choirs’.