Can't Count, Won't Count

« March 2010 »


Been a while since I've mocked Mark Krikorian, or really any of the fuckwits over at National Review's Corner. The last time he crossed my path, he was arguing that white people shouldn't pronounce foreign-sounding names correctly if, like "Soto-may-OR", it irritates them. And since Krikorian is generally irritated by anything brown and/or foreign-sounding, you can see how well that'd work out for him.

So what happens when the banal white privilege of Mark Krekorian's everyday worldview buts up against that right-wing bugaboo, our decadian ritual known as the census? The same thing that happens when you rile up a monkey with diarrhea. He has a clever plan, which, in traditional wingnut pundit style, is neither clever nor really a plan. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"I haven't gotten my letter from the Census Bureau yet asking me to make sure I fill out the questionnaire. But when I do fill it out, I'll use it to send a message."

Dude, you write for The Corner. We couldn't stop you from sending a message even if we wanted to, just ile you couldn't stop the message from being deeply retarded if you ever decided you wanted to. But sure, waste some optical scanner's fucking time with your little crusade. What's your beef again?

"Fully one-quarter of the space on this year's form is taken up with questions of race and ethnicity, which are clearly illegitimate and none of the government's business."

I just filled out my census form, specifically so I could know what I'm talking about here, and what Krikorian says here is both true, false and disingenuous. I'm talking about the "fully 25%" part. The part where it's none of the government's business what the racial makeup of the nation is? That's some kind of freakjob psychopathology around affirmative action and white people no longer getting all the goodies.

But I don't know where the fuck that 25% number comes from. The census form (which he linked to, so I know it's the same) has four questions everyone answers no matter what, plus seven questions you answer once per person in the household, except for the first person, who answers six. Of those six or seven, a grand total of two are about race/ethnicity - one to cover variations on Hispanic, and one to cover the rest. It is very difficult to get those numbers to come out to 25%. On a per person basis, it's 2/6 or 2/7. For a one person household, it's 2/10. For a two person household, it's 4/17. The only time it's "fully 25%" is if there are three people in the household.

Not that it matters, because they're asking for a very small volume of information overall. So it's true that in many cases, nearly 25% or more than 25% or the questions are technically about race, it's false that it's "fully 25%", except in one specific instance, and it's disingenuous because at the end of the day, it's two questions per person, and one of those questions is "Are you Hispanic or not?". Hardly the intrusive burden Krekorian paints a picture of.

So what is his "clever" "plan"? Well, since there's not much to it, first he has to distract us with what his plan isn't.

"My initial impulse was simply to misidentify my race so as to throw a monkey wrench into the statistics... But lying in this constitutionally mandated process is wrong. Really — don't do it."

He can say respect for constitutionally mandated processes all he wants, but I'll always hear "Look, we're all white. If we don't tell the truth, we'll lose even more ground in the numbers. Really - don't do it." So here's what he suggests instead. Ready? I know it seems like I'm leading up to a big reveal, but it's just that his actual plan is incredibly lame and slight, and he's very easy to make fun of.

"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."

Now, a few years ago, there was a big to-do because the British were stating their religion as "Jedi" on their census. I supported that, despite its inherent nerdiness, because it was funny. And since religion is a matter of choice, and one could argue that Jedi is a form of mysticism, it falls just enough under the definition to qualify for decent joke status.

But "American" isn't a race, it's a nationality. A nationality that is assumed, by default, because you're participating in the United States Motherfucking Census. They know you're American. That's why you got the form in the mail at all. And while both race and ethnicity are fuzzy things, constantly in flux, not even the loosest definitions would apply to a nationality two and a quarter centuries old. So you're just being a dick to make a point, and worse, it's a point even stupider than "I love Star Wars way too much".

First, you can call something unconstitutional all you want, and you will, because that's what you do. And you can call something you don't like a "scheme" all you want, and you will, because that's what you do. But that doesn't make it so, and even if it did make it so, you fail to mention what harm it causes.

And as for your plurality in four states bullshit, first of all, those states are full of yeehaw jingoistic morons. Second, it's easy to get a plurality on a question with hundreds of possible answers. Which means I don't even care to find out whether or not you're lying about this unsourced statistic, because nobody gives a shit. Four states isn't even a plurality of states. It's not even fully 25% of the states.

But don't let that stop you from making a statement almost nobody will hear, and those who do hear it will ignore. You must be used to that as a Corner blogger anyway.