With all the time many of us are having to spend away from work and school, at least we can now squeeze in a few minutes to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census. We did ours the other day.
On the plus side, the government website is user-friendly and fast. No Obamacare or unemployment security web crashes here. Nor were the questions complicated, although the one about race was a bit of a puzzler.
In past decades, if you weren’t African-American or one of another dozen or so specific ethnic or racial classifications, the census form offered one choice: white.
But now under “white” you are asked to be more specific.
Says Uncle Sam: “The category ‘White’ includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. These groups include, but are not limited to, German, Irish, English, Italian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Polish, French, Iranian, Slavic, Cajun, and Chaldean.”
As proud as some Americans are and should be of their ancestral roots, others may be fuzzy on the family history. Apart from confirming that we are made up from peoples from all over God’s creation, we’re not sure what the government expects to gain from this hand-me-down information.
Whatever it is, we doubt Teddy Roosevelt would be pleased. He thought Americans, no matter their ethnicity or place of origin, should identify with just one nationality: American.
“The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities — an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans, or Italian-Americans — each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality than with the other citizens of the American Republic.”
Wow. Them would be fighting words today, as would Roosevelt’s insistence that, “We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...”
Meanwhile, we have President Trump taking much heat for referring to COVID-19 as “the Chinese virus.”
Whether he sticks with that one or again remembers that Chinese boss Xi Jinping is his very close friend remains to be seen. But those who object to the term should be happy that he isn’t calling it the Yellow Peril.