The Corner

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More Monkey Wrenching


Boy, my posting on how to answer race questions on forms got some interesting responses. Other than the usual “Race: Human” and “Sex: As often as possible” stuff, there was one person who answered “Jedi” for his race, and another, from the UK, who sent this link to a story on how several hundred thousand Brits listed “Jedi”as their religion in the last census (though this isn’t necessarily a hopeful sign for Christianity there).

And this on the corrupting influence of race categories, from a retired military officer:

When the drawdowns started in the US Army after the Cold War, changing your racial status became a gambit for promotion, usually going for “Hispanic” or “Other”. Evidentally enough officers did this that they stopped allowing you to do it via the clerk at your local personnel office; instead, a request to change racial status would be forwarded to Personnel Command, which would then contact the officer’s command, which would verify the information via command channels (translated: “Try this buddy, and we’ll put you on your own general’s s**t list”).

The Racial Privacy Initiative, which would have prohibited California from collecting racial and ethnic data in most cases, failed last October, partly because it was swamped by the Gray Davis recall, but also because people were reluctant to take such a forthright step. So it might be better to start by simply forbiding any private or public institution from mandating the provision of race data, so that any form would have to give people an “I choose not to answer” escape hatch. This wouldn’t resolve the issue, any more than the partial-birth abortion ban is a solution, but it would expose the radicalism of those opposing such a measure, since they’d have to explicitly endorse legal sanctions to force people to report their race or ethnicity.