I was picking tomatoes on our small farm in north-central Kentucky when I heard the news of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It took me some time before I understood that what Bob Edwards of National Public Radio was talking about was not a book or movie. I was horrified and frightened when I realized what he was describing was real, but I wasn’t surprised. It seems that I live waiting for the next awful thing to happen somewhere in the world.
Our farm sits near a small town in a world made up mostly of small places—places affected by the policies of their governments but seldom consulted or considered. This place has been my “homeland” all of my life, and my family’s for eight generations. The government that now wants to talk about “homeland security,” an obnoxious phrase, has been working at economically destroying our homeland for a good deal of that time.
Because we now know what we should have known all along—that we are vulnerable to terrorist attack—maybe we are ready to think about what a secure homeland might really mean and how country places like ours might fit into it.
In a New York Times article dated October 28, 2001, Neil Harl, a professor of agriculture and economics at Iowa State University, says that “The terrorists know that the surest way to bring a country...