The US government has taken pains to assure us the information it gathers in the official census will be kept private, and not used for, you know, unpleasant purposes. Not that we believed them, of course.
Well, now that paranoia has been officially validated.
This morning, two scholars of census history at Fordham University released the results of a study that substantiates long-denied rumors that the US Census Bureau provided detailed information that resulted in the rounding up of 120,000 Japanese American citizens and legal residents during World War II.
And if, by some chance, you were delusional enough to think the government did away with those bad old habits, the Fordham researchers also revealed the creepy fact that, in 2004, the Census Bureau provided at least zip code level info tracking where Arab Americans could be located.
(Gee, with an upsurge in xenophobia against undocumented immigrants, how else might census information be used?)
I was alerted to the story in the early A.M. hours by the office of California Congressman Mike Honda (Santa Clara County)—-who, spent his childhood in the Southeastern Colorado internment camp of Amache—. (Local Note: LA’s Japanese American residents were shipped, in some cases, to nearby Manzanar, but also out of state to Amache, Gila River, Arizona, and the antonymically-named Heart Mountain in Wyoming.)
Furious at the news, Honda calls the practice “contrary to the fundamental American principle of protecting civil liberties, and promises to explore legislative remedies.
Legislative remedy or no, as the 2010 census approaches, the Census folks might want to remember that, in the early 1980s in West Germany, a massive boycott followed by a court injunction blocked that country’s census for several years. Eventually Germany’s top court ruled that there were a lot of questions the Germans simply didn’t have to answer.