July 4, 2008
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Homeland Security

Every year on this day, the Boston Globe runs the same editorial. "When in the Course of human events,” it begins, “it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Linda and I went downtown this year to hear the Declaration read once again from the balcony of the old State House, the site of the Boston Massacre and of the first reading of the Declaration in Massachusetts.

There was a good crowd. There was a fife and drum corps. There was a small contingent of sailors from the USS Bataan. And the affair was wrapped up by a bunch of green-uniformed, kilted bagpipers from the Department of Homeland Security.

What the hell is the Department of Homeland Security doing here? They have no business: they didn't fight across the river at Bunker Hill, they didn't launch their little frigates from the Harbor down the street to challenge the greatest fleet the world had known. They aren’t our armed forces; they're the folks who x-ray the pilots’ shoes every morning.

What’s next? The Dept. of Interior marching band? The buglers of the Department of Agriculture? The kazoos of the Bureau of Reclamation?

Three eminent research groups — eminent colleagues who have participated in Hypertext conferences over the years — could not attend this year’s Hypertext Conference in Pittsburgh because these people kept their representatives out of the country. They weren’t refused visas; the visa applications, submitted months in advance, were merely ignored until they were worthless.

They don’t have time to get their job done; but apparently they have plenty of time and money to march around pretending to be soldiers and drumming up support for restrictive immigration policies.

Update: Not quite as bad as I thought, since the Coast Guard has long had bands and they moved the Coast Guard into Homeland Security. Still, Border Patrol uniforms and the banner of Homeland Security have no place in a 4th of July Parade, not while the Statue of Liberty claims to lift her lamp beside our golden door.