When P.J. O’Rourke Met the DHS

The great satirist P.J. O’Rourke, who died last week at 74, once said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sounded like “a failed savings and loan.” As it turned out, that was more than a quip.

Created in 2002 to prevent terrorist attacks such as September 11, 2001, the DHS failed to prevent terrorist attacks at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 (13 dead, more than 30 wounded); San Bernardino, California, in 2015 (14 murdered, more than 20 wounded); Orlando, Florida, in 2016, with 49 murdered and more than 50 wounded. These and other failures may have prompted the DHS to seek easier targets.

According to a February 7 DHS bulletin, the U.S. homeland is now under a heightened threat from “an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors.” None of the “actors,” foreign or domestic, is mentioned.

The DHS finds a threat in “the proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions.” The DHS bulletin does not identify the U.S. government institution robbed of trust by the false or misleading narrative. Lower in the bulletin, the DHS provides an example.

“There is widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19.” Question the 2020 election or resist government COVID propaganda, and you are suddenly a terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland.

In 2002 DHS may have sounded like a failed savings and loan. In 2020, the DHS is another failed government institution that does not deserve the trust of the people. The great P.J. O’Rourke is not resting in peace.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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