I have a suspension-of-disbelief problem whenever I see DHS (Department of Homeland Security) mentioned in fiction. I snicker. Usually when they are mentioned it’s to invoke the fear of a powerful government agency, meant either to protect or terrorize us, depending on the story. They’re charging in to save the day, or they’re menacing us with excess force. But in either case, they’re meant to be taken seriously.
And I just can’t. I remember the years before DHS existed. I recall the frantic hand-waving and flailing after 9/11, and I saw how panicked lawmakers threw together a handful of chimps, slapped an acronym on them, and told us we were safer. To me, DHS will always be a bunch of clowns feeling you up before you get on a plane, to act out a multi-billion-dollar security theater that everyone knows is a joke.
So when they are invoked as anything other than a joke it’s jarring, and I laugh, and the tense mood is ruined. Seriously writers, stick with something that is actually menacing and powerful – CIA, or maybe FBI. Something with a pedigree.
I was horrified when I realized last year that there is an entire generation growing up who DOES NOT KNOW THIS. For them, DHS is a legitimate authority. They don’t know to laugh, because everyone they know has kept a straight face when they’ve been presented with this facade of authority. Within my lifetime, these jokers could turn into something that people take seriously. I despair.
So I’m extremely happy when I hear that congress is having issues passing a bill to fund them. Good. I hope this gets tied up for years, and the agency starves to death and withers away, to be relegated to the bad jokes of history. 100 years from now, every portrayal of the DHS should be accompanied by Yakety Sax.