I could not put it better myself - so all this is his; I'm sure he won't mind.
The Navy makes this hard to do - but you can. If nothing else, "Other" or the appropriate vague answer works.
I was glad to see my friend Hans von Spakovsky explain the need for truthful answers on the census. (This was in response to my earlier posts here and here.) This is why I've made clear that you should not lie on your census form by, for instance, answering "Klingon" for your race, or "Guamanian" or "Chamorro" if you're not, in fact, Guamanian or Chamorro, as stupid and unjustifiable as such a question is.
Nor is the form overall especially onerous. It's one of the shortest ever, and no one's going to get the long form, with its questions about indoor plumbing and the like, because it's been replaced by the American Community Survey, which is an ongoing survey of a sample of the population. Filling out the census is your responsibility as an American — do it.
Nor, while we're on the subject, do I have any problem with the letter we all got announcing that the census form was on its way. The Bureau's responsibility is to count everyone, and if they have good reason to think such letters (or even Super Bowl ads) are likely to help, so be it.
And finally, before I get to the main point of Hans's post, I think it's important to note that the number-crunchers at the Census
Bureauare highly trained professionals with skills much in demand in the private sector, and we're lucky to have them working for us. It's not like they sat around at a staff meeting one day and said, "Hey, why don't we to ask Americans what 'race' they are?" Congress tells the Census Bureau what to do and ought to be the sole focus of anyone's ire. This is why Hans is completely correct in writing "The only real answer to this problem is for Congress to prohibit the Census Bureau from collecting such information and to make all government programs (and the reapportionment process) explicitly race-neutral."
But Congress isn't going to do that on its own. Our contemporary system of race laws is both stupid and evil, and thus supported by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. That's why it's necessary for citizens to come up with imaginative ways to register their disgust with the whole immoral concept of race laws and, if possible within the law, make them unworkable. And the decennial census is an ideal opportunity to do so, since it's one of the few civic rites where participation is almost universal.
As Hans pointed out, 13 USC 221 says "Whoever . . . willfully gives any answer that is false, shall be fined not more than $500." First of all, answering Question 9 by checking "Some other race" and writing in "American" is not false and therefore not a violation of the law. But if the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia disagrees, he just needs to call me and I'll be happy to turn myself in. If I lost, the $500 fine would come back to me 100-fold in a book contract; more importantly, simply shining a light on the utterly specious nature of our race laws would ring their death knell.
For example: the census considers Korean and Pakistani and Guamanian to be distinct races — not ethnic groups, but "races," as evidenced by Question 9, which says "Other Asian — Print race, for example, Hmong, Laotian, Thai, Pakistani, Cambodian, and so on." If "Pakistani" — a political/religious identity invented in 1934 — is a "race," then "American" is a race. What's more, if these are "races," then so are Jamaican, and Italian, and Mixtec. In other words, apart from any questions of constitutionality or morality, the government's concept of "race" is simply gibberish, and I dare the Justice
Departmentto try to defend it in court.
The late Hugh Davis Graham wrote Collision Course: The Strange Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America, which traced how these fallacious "race" categories were invented. If I might quote from my 2002 review of the book for NR:
So the four "official" minority designations we now take for granted were essentially made up by civil servants preparing questionnaires for government contractors. This then led to an almost comical procession of groups trying to get on the gravy train. Hasidic Jews petitioned the Small Business
Administrationfor participation in minority set-asides, but were rejected as a religious group. Then Asian Indians petitioned, and were accepted, bringing the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in their wake. Later, an Indonesian woman, initially rejected, finally mastered the lingo and argued in her appeal that Indonesian Americans "have suffered economic deprivation" and the "chronic effects of discriminatory practices for a very long time" — this despite the fact that there were only a handful of Indonesian immigrants in the U.S., and they were wealthier and better educated than native-born Americans. Iranians, however, were rejected, apparently because "the chronic effects of discriminatory practices" stopped at the Pakistani border; Graham wryly remarks that "the SBA's ethnocultural line-drawing at the Khyber Pass, coming from an agency not noted for this expertise, made no sense in terms either of Middle Eastern cultural anthropology or of American history and law."
So for next week, remember: Question 9 on your census form — check "Some other race" and write in "American." You're doing nothing wrong. And you may help set something right.
We should describe ourselves as the rest of the world does, Americans.