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In all the excitement over the election last fall, a surging government intrusion failed to get the attention it deserved. In late September, the White House Office of Management and Budget, of all places, proposed a new racial classification: MENA, standing for Middle East and North Africa. It covers the area from Morocco to Iran, a region, as the Washington Post observed, that “comprises a jumble of ethnic and racial categories.” The United States also comprises a jumble of ethnic and racial categories.
People with ancestry in Iceland, Scotland and Denmark are tagged “Caucasians,” which would be accurate only for people from the Caucuses region, such as the Boston Marathon bombers, or Stalin. According to this geographical pattern, people with ancestry in Spain should be classified as “Iberians” but they are not. They are “Latinos,” but in the current system people such as Antonin Scalia, Madonna, and Frank Sinatra, all with ancestry in Italy, home to the plain of Latium, are not “Latinos.” They too are “Caucasians” or “whites.” Many “Latinos” or “Hispanics,” a linguistic term, are whiter than the late Senator Robert Byrd, a former Ku Klucker. Even so, in the USA they can become “people of color.” None of this makes any sense but those who advance it have purposes in mind.
The classification system is the basis for handing out benefits on the basis of race and ethnicity, not something any free society should do. The classification divides society into creditor and debtor classes, oppressor and oppressed, if you will. As the late Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted, the most meaningful division goes right down the middle of every human heart. The classification system is also a form of identity theft, assigning identity in relation to the group, not the individual, and promoting group rights over individual rights.
The MENA designation will supposedly land in Congress for approval in 2018, in time for the 2020 census. Congress should not approve MENA and would do well to dump the entire classification system. The Census should simply count the number of people in the country. A government that can’t balance a budget, and runs up a debt of $20 trillion, should not be in the ethnic classification business.