Sunday, March 21, 2010

Census Paranoia

Time for the Census.

It reminds me of 10 years ago (I can't believe it has been that long) when I actually worked as a census worker. Senior citizens and veterans are given preference in hiring for census jobs, so it was filled with oddballs. My favorite was some old dude who, during the silent multiple choice question test to become hired, could not understand the 'silent' part. He kept loudly wanting others to help him answer the simple questions. Before he could be asked to leave, he got frustrated and left.

The job I was hired for was to be to seek out homeless people at under passes and fields from around 4am to 7am and politely ask them to fill out census forms. I got paid to go to orientation meetings and luckily never got asked to actually go find the underpass dwellers.

I was already radicalized and was skeptical of the Census. Afterall, the US government has used census findings to intern Japanese Americans and to spy on Arab Americans. I even accidentally referred to police as "pigs" at an orientation meeting. (Luckily the census leader was not upset and laughed it off. No drones came to my apartment.)

However, in 2000, Clinton was president and other than the dying militia movement, not too many people were freaked out about the US government's Census. Of course, those same rightwing fringe tendencies are now mainstreamed on Fox News. I think the rightwing Census paranoia shows a fear of the changing social landscape and the grip by which the old White guard hold onto it. They fear the inevitable.

United States Census 2010
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