Conservative media campaign to thwart Census from gathering race data needed to enforce laws

››› ››› TODD GREGORY

In a blog post, Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Krikorian advised respondents to the 2010 Census to avoid disclosing their ethnicity by selecting "[s]ome other race" and writing in "American." Other conservative bloggers and radio hosts have followed suit, mounting a campaign to thwart the Census' efforts to gather information on the topic, which the Census says is needed to enforce federal laws.

Krikorian encourages people to "[p]ass it on"; other bloggers comply

Krikorian pushes "a way for ordinary citizens to express their rejection of unconstitutional racial classification schemes." From Krikorian's March 8 post on National Review Online's The Corner:

[U]ntil we succeed in building the needed wall of separation between race and state, I have a proposal. Question 9 on the census form asks "What is Person 1's race?" (and so on, for other members of the household). My initial impulse was simply to misidentify my race so as to throw a monkey wrench into the statistics; I had fun doing this on the personal-information form my college required every semester, where I was a Puerto Rican Muslim one semester, and a Samoan Buddhist the next. But lying in this constitutionally mandated process is wrong. Really -- don't do it.

Instead, we should answer Question 9 by checking the last option -- "Some other race" -- and writing in "American." It's a truthful answer but at the same time is a way for ordinary citizens to express their rejection of unconstitutional racial classification schemes. In fact, "American" was the plurality ancestry selection for respondents to the 2000 census in four states and several hundred counties.

So remember: Question 9 -- "Some other race" -- "American". Pass it on.

Malkin: "Ditto that!" In a March 9 post headlined "My race is 'American,' " Michelle Malkin wrote, "Mark Krikorian is fighting back against Census form race politics and urging you to do the same," and quoted from Krikorian's post. Malkin then wrote, "Ditto that!" Right-wing bloggers at Power Line, Ace of Spades, and RedState have also embraced Kirkorian's initiative to "pass it on."

Campaign spreads to right-wing radio

Beck: "Do not answer the race question. How dare you? How dare you?" On his March 9 radio show, Glenn Beck asserted that the Census question will result in people getting "more dollars if you are a minority." He further stated:

BECK: The reason why you don't answer a race question is because: one. Everyone counts as one. All men are created equal. If you are offended back in 1790 about slavery and that everyone should count the same, do not answer the race question. How dare you? How dare you?

At least in 1790, they were doing it to slow the South down on slavery, to try to stop it as much as they can. Today, they're asking the race question to try to increase slavery, your dependence on the master in Washington. No way. Don't answer that question.

Limbaugh: "There's a campaign out there ... to get this done, have a little fun with it." On the March 11 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh told a caller, "Let me give you some advice on this thing. I want you to listen up and listen close." Limbaugh further stated, "I want you to check the box that says 'other' and write in 'American.' " Later, he reiterated:

LIMBAUGH: Just don't forget on the Census form, when you check off your race, check the box that says "other" and write -- in all caps -- write in "American." There's a campaign out there -- I guess we just started it -- a campaign out there to get this done, have a little fun with it.

Census: Race data required to implement federal laws

Census: Race data necessary "to monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act." According to the U.S. Census Bureau, states are required to use race data to comply with the Voting Rights Act, and federal programs rely on race data for implementation:

Race is key to implementing any number of federal programs and it is critical for the basic research behind numerous policy decisions. States require race data to meet legislative redistricting requirements. Also, they are needed to monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act by local jurisdictions.

Federal programs rely on race data in assessing racial disparities in housing, income, education, employment, health, and environmental risks.

The Census Bureau has included a question on race since the first census in 1790. The Census Bureau Web site has a race overview page with links to data and substantial reference information. Almost all Census Bureau population and housing data sets include data on race.

NY Times: "Counting people by race ... is useful for enforcing civil rights laws." In a March 7 editorial, The New York Times stated that "questions about age, gender, race, Hispanic ethnicity and homeownership are used to help execute and monitor laws and programs that are targeted to specific groups," adding, "Counting people by race and ethnicity, for example, is useful for enforcing civil rights laws, like the Voting Rights Act." From the Times editorial:

Another baseless criticism of the census is that it is unconstitutional to ask anything beyond the number of people living in a residence. Numerous federal and Supreme Court cases have upheld the constitutionality of collecting additional information in the census, provided it is relevant and necessary to good government.

To that end, questions about age, gender, race, Hispanic ethnicity and homeownership are used to help execute and monitor laws and programs that are targeted to specific groups. That is not to downplay legitimate debate fueled by questions that go beyond who is living where. Counting people by race and ethnicity, for example, is useful for enforcing civil rights laws, like the Voting Rights Act. But it also provokes argument about identity and equality in a diverse society. [The New York Times, 3/7/10]

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