Are you ready for the 2010 Census?
Are you sure?
Are you ready for 100 Black Men being in charge of going door-to-door, asking you a lot of personal questions, getting all up in your business? How about Boat People? Hispanic Police Commanders? Baby Boomer Women?!
Because, if Rep. Michele Bachmann is right, that’s what you can expect. According to her, these groups are the recipient of federal money and are in charge of the door-to-door intrusive, highly personal examinations, all in the name of Census 2010.
So, maybe you’re OK with those groups. How about these:
Cambodians, Laotians, and Vietnamese Americans
Cuban American Women
The Rainbow Push Coalition
Residential Property Managers
Florida A&M University
Phi Beta Sigma
Public Data Users
Teachers of Mathematics!
These organizations are all official partners of the U.S. Census Bureau in carrying out the 2010 census. Bachmann, however, is particularly concerned with ACORN, an activist community organization that came under scrutiny during the last election for voter fraud. ACORN is also a national partner, one of nearly 300. The latest list of partners can be found here (pdf warn).
According to a Washington Times interview with Bachmann,
"They will be in charge of going door to door and collecting data from the American public," she said. "This is very concerning."
"I know for my family the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home," she said. "We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."
Contrary to Bachmann’s assertions, however, these organizations are not funded by the government for assisting with the census. Their job is voluntary. They are specifically tasked with spreading the word about the census and helping in recruiting some 1.4 million census takers (who will be paid), who will be subjected to criminal background checks. These workers then become temporary employees of the Census Bureau, so the partners are never in charge of anything. And, Bachmann is also wrong about the requirements of the Constitution, but let me refer you to the Pulitzer prize-winning Politifact (here and here) for the best analysis of her claims.
About now, any sane person would be regretting the inanity of their comments and, in politispeak, “walk them back”. Bachmann, on the other hand, just keeps digging deeper and deeper into the stupidity, implicitly suggesting (by explicitly not suggesting) that this new liberal government might do something untoward with all that private information.
If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the census bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations, at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I’m not saying that’s what the Administration is planning to do. But I am saying that private, personal information that was given to the census bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up.
I'm not sure what Michele Bachmann hopes to accomplish with her public fear mongering about the census. I know it's getting a lot of air time with right wing media, but ultimately, her inciting the public to boycott the census can only hurt their districts. Besides, it's against the law. You'd think a lawmaker would know that.
Just one last thing - it'll be a cold day in hell before I let a teacher of mathematics cross my doorway without proof of identity and proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. Written in the margins of a notebook.
And them Public Data Users better watch out, too.