If there’s one ethnic group that has been given a raw deal by the Census Bureau in modern times, it’s the Arab-American community. In 2004, when the Department of Homeland Security wanted private/confidential data about Arab-Americans, the Census Bureau happily turned over the data, hypocritically violating many privacy laws. Now, New America Media’s Ray Hanania columnist sounds off about why the government doesn’t treat Arab Americans with respect (click here for full article):
The first question I always get from “Americans” is, “Why do you keep calling yourself ‘Arab-American?’ You are American!”
It represents the rock and the hard place where American Arabs have been pushed by the lack of education among most Americans.
columnist Ray Hanania.
It’s aggravated by what I also call the U.S. government’s split personality when it comes to American Arabs. On the one hand, they want to know us. On the other, they don’t. Here’s what I mean.
The only time the United States government wants to know about American Arabs is when they are “profiling” us at airport and border security to “protect” the country from “the terrorist threat.”
But when it comes to counting people in the U.S. Census (so they can participate and share in government programs like grant funding awards, defining the borders of election districts for Congress, state legislatures or municipal councils), the U.S. government pretends American Arabs don’t exist.
That is exactly what’s happening now in the massive 2010 U.S. Census drive.
The government is neither completely stupid nor naïve. It is dishing out just enough money to American Arab organizations and PR agencies to do the outreach to the American Arab community.
The government could do it but doesn’t have a positive file on who we are. The government only has “the negative file,” the one where American Arabs have been followed and investigated by FBI agents repeatedly over the past 75 years.
The FBI investigated me over a two-year period beginning in August 1975, right after I had completed my active duty military service for this country during the Vietnam War. They said I must be a terrorist, because I was Arab; but they concluded the 45-page report by saying, in small type, that I’m just an American who is concerned about advancing his ethnic community.
During the two years, they talked to banks, employers, neighbors, friends and anyone who had anything to do with me. It was all in the report, most of it blacked out with marker. When I finally received a copy in 1979, it explained why I had been dismissed from jobs, why some neighbors and some friends had stopped talking to me or associating with me, and why several prospective employers had refused to hire me.
Hey, when the U.S. government puts its attention on American Arabs, it’s usually not for a good reason.
That’s why I am upset –- no, angry — that the government is pretending that it cares for us American Arabs by reaching out and asking us to complete our federal census form for 2010.