your papers, please

There’s these US Coast Guard ads running on local radio; these short audio vignettes of Coasties in action, with voiceovers from both some parochial voice and declarations of role from (apparently) young serving Coasties themselves.
Example: (audio track of helicopters and waves, “We’ve got, you, ma’am”, etc.) Young voice: “We are the rescuers!”; (audio of clanging bootsteps, radio static, “Looks like 80 kilos, sir”), voice: “We’re keeping the streets clean!”, (audio of more bootsteps and generalized firearms-readying, “Sector 8 is clear!”), voice: “We are the first line of homeland defence!”, Parochial bit: “The US Coast Guard: On the frontlines to protect our American way of life.”
Now, whoa there. Being a mariner, i have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the branches of the USCG who man and service Lights & Aids, who perform Search & Rescue, and who regulate and administer marine traffic and safety. But this paramilitary “On the frontlines” BS? Gimme a break.
So, everyone knows by now that the USCG is a branch of Homeland Security, which to me sounds like the emphasis has shifted from those traditional and honourable roles to all this drug-sniffing, terrorist-busting, self-fulfilling “threatened security” fantasy. Hell i always thought that the American Way Of Life (AWOL?) was all about drugs, violence, and hedonism anyways. Yeah, i know the dream is supposed to read something like, “Here is the land of opportunity for the average guy to work hard and realize all his dreams”, but in modern parlance it sounds more like, “Here is the land of opportunity for the rich to get richer and blow it all on gluttonous excess”. More recently, it’s starting to sound like, “Here is the land of homogenization and Federal ID systems, where the best bet for the average guy to get steady work is with some contracted paramilitary security firm”.
Every time i hear some voice calmly invoking the thrall of “homeland”, i’m immediately reminded of another land, a “fatherland” in the central Europe of the 1930’s.


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