Census paranoia

A couple of interesting, link-laden summaries of the current state of right wing paranoia about the census: one from Talking Points Memo (Census Paranoia: What are Right Wingers Afraid Of?) and one from Cynthia Tucker in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (GOP Paranoia About the Census May Cost the Party in Congress). Republicans are suddenly worried about blowback from their own intemperate rhetoric. If Tea Partiers do what Glenn Beck, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, et al told them to and throw out their forms, they might end up under-represented in the House.

Karl Rove’s eleventh hour PSA for the census bureau (click here) points out that James Madison wrote the census into the Constitution as an “instrument of democracy…to insure fair representation in Congress”; more timely pushback like that from elected Republicans might have helped even more. Hoist by their own petard, as the Bard said.

Rush Limbaugh has weighed in as well. Click here for the Record-Courier (Nevada) article that inspired him:

RUSH: By the way, I may now finally understand. I told you I’ve never received a census form. I remember as a little kid the census people coming into the house. I haven’t seen a census form since I left home in 1970. Here’s a story from the Record Courier in Nevada: “Feeling left out by the US Census Bureau? You are not alone. According to officials, some Douglas County neighborhoods have been overlooked by census workers who were to deliver forms to residents with post office boxes instead of fixed street addresses.” Now, it just so happens that Douglas County, the neighborhoods in question here, is a big Republican area. I’ve seen some e-mails come in: “I haven’t gotten the census form, either, Rush, and I’m Republican.” I didn’t attach much to it, but now this newspaper has written about it.

“Cheryl Bricker, executive director of the Partnership of Community Resources, ‘My phone has been ringing off the hook. People know April 1 is magic count day and they don’t have the form. They’re not coming in for assistance because they never got a form.’ Bricker said Wednesday census workers were to distribute official forms to the homes of people with post office boxes. Residents with street addresses should have received their forms in the mail well before the end of March.” I wonder how widespread this is, that areas thought to be Republican are either not getting forms or not being visited by the census workers, nothing would surprise me.

Between 1970 and this year, Limbaugh had only three opportunities to receive a census form. Jimmy Carter was president in 1980 and Bill Clinton in 2000, but wasn’t there a Bush in the White House in 1990?

The Gospel of Luke 2:1-7 links a Roman census to the birth of Jesus:

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Luke passage inspired the National Association of Elected Latino Officials to create a poster (click here for Washington Post story–it received mixed reviews),

but I wonder why it hasn’t given birth to more apocalyptic prophecies than it seems to. Maybe because there’s so many out there already.

6 thoughts on “Census paranoia

  1. Things that make you go hmmm! Art, wasn’t the census taken because Ceasar needed some more money by way of taxes hmmm?? Sounds familiar!!!!

  2. By that logic voting is a bad idea too. Or serving on juries. Or enlisting in the military–anything that will make your presence known to the government. But you don’t believe that, do you?

    And surely you don’t believe that our federal government has the same relationship to its citizens that Caesar Augustus’s Rome did to the people of Israel?

  3. Vassel statehood. Wouldn’t that be construde as think it was a method of predicting future GDP to nations who look at us as a wealth engine, like China?(crinkling tin-foil)

    I think it makes logical sense even though the data can be used for many things. On my form it seemed as though they REALLY wanted to know just how many latinos there were. Or just how mixed race the nation really is. Those two items really can put a crimp on our comfortable political class language. Eventually we will just have to talk about people as people…or I guess we could say:
    “…a 30% percent approval rating among 25% Asian-latinos, 22% margin with 46% caucasian-Asians, 50% among 75% Latino-asians and a 70% margin with 15% Asian-caucasians. +/- 4%”

  4. Quiz: Is a Haitian black or latino?

    Is a Turk european or Asia(Turkey straddles the magic line) or middle-eastern?

    If my mother’s half-brother is African-american, and looks it more than Obama, does that make us African-american or does it make him caucasian?

    Are Tazmanians Pacific Islanders?

  5. If I am 1/32 Cherokee and that recessed trait surfaces in me and not my siblings, does that make me Native American?

    1. Of course as you know, modern science (as opposed to a vast corpus of nineteenth and early twentieth century pseudo-science) doesn’t even recognize race, except as an incidental quirk of the genes that is sometimes visible to the naked eye (darker or lighter skin pigmentation, slanted eyes, etc.).

      A couple of months ago I read Nell Irvin Painter’s The History of White People in manuscript and learned that Eastern Europeans, Southern Italians, and the Irish (and of course the Jews) only became members of the white race a century or so ago. Fascinating stuff and highly recommended.

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