Disclaimer: I am trying not to be too political on my blog, but there are a few issues I do find important, and since I love to write, and recognize the amazing power of words, the use, or misuse, of words is one of those issues. Bearing that in mind, please continue . . .
“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” Buddha.
Semantics or Brainwashing?
I recently read that the Housing and Urban Development Department, under the current administration, is contemplating changing its mission statement. Apparently, those is charge wish to remove the words “free from discrimination,” among others, from that proclamation and, apparently, this is decision being made without consultation with the career staff at the agency. I mean, let’s not consider the views of those working hard to fulfill the department’s goals when making such a fundamental change.
Do words, or the eraser of words, matter?
Consider first that a “mission statement” is the summary of the aims and values of an organization. Next consider that this agency was established in 1965 as a cabinet level department for the express purpose of combating discrimination in the availability of livable and affordable housing.
So why change the words, which does change the mission? And this is where the analysis should really begin – ask why?
This may seem like an insignificant change, but words are extremely powerful and what this change boils down to is an attempt at revisionist history. Future readers of the mission statement may view the agency as existing to help ensure the availability of housing. But the historical root, that the agency was established to help fight racial and economic discrimination by landlords, has been eliminated.
So why? One can only speculate as to motivations, but looking at the totality of current policy objectives, it would appear that the ruling class wants to brainwash current and future generations into believing this is a society where segregation and poverty and exploitation in the housing market didn’t or doesn’t exist. So, there was no need to create an agency to address a non-existent problem. And why white-wash the agency’s purpose? Pun intended.
A more poignant example is with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, with a history extending back to the 1890s. Yes, the administration changed the mission statement for this agency as well. It erased the bedrock phrase “America’s promise as a nation of immigrants” from its mission. How ironic. Like it or not, this country was born out of a history of slavery and genocide, and the first European settlers here were “occupiers” – “invaders.” That’s just historical fact and you can’t change that.
The only true “Americans” are the aboriginals. And there is nothing wrong with having a heritage of immigration. I’ve descended primarily from German and Irish ancestors, although there is a tad bit of genetics coming from the Caucasus region. I’m not a Native American and never will be. That’s ok.
The erasure of this phrase appears to indicate a desire to foster the image of “pure-bred Americans” versus anyone else trying to come to this country from anywhere else in the world. Us versus them. We are no longer a nation of immigrants ensuring the country is open to immigration because the current administration is fighting to severely restrict immigration. Promoting division. And why is that? Please read my post in the politics section – It’s Really About Outnumbering. I wrote this one a while back, but I think it is still applicable.
Actually, the change in mission statements for both agencies is a much more severe re-writing:
The Housing and Urban Development Department:
Historical: “HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and transform the way HUD does business.”
Revised: “HUD’s mission is to ensure Americans have access to fair, affordable housing and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, thereby strengthening our communities and nation.”
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:
Historical: “USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.”
Revised: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”
Photo: This beautiful shot was take in a sculpture garden in Michigan.