More on Steele and the Census

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Some reader reaction to the RNC fundraising letter claiming Obama and ACORN want to rig the 2010 census.

TPM Reader HL:

Michael Steele is playing a dangerous game with that fund-raising letter, and people are going to die because of it.

Nine years ago, my wife worked for the Census, knocking on people’s doors and gathering information. There’s no way she’ll do it again next year. Steele is making it too dangerous.

Census takers put themselves in vulnerable positions. They don’t know who or what is on the other side of the door. The door might be opened by a sexual predator, or someone who’s not in control of a vicious dog. Or the door could be opened by someone with a gun in one hand and Steele’s letter in the other, seething with hatred for liberals and ACORN.

Remember that gunman who attacked a Unitarian church last year, and left behind a letter urging people to kill liberals? I’m convinced that there are plenty of unbalanced people who won’t leave their houses to seek liberals to kill, but will kill a “radical leftist” (Steele’s words) who knocks on their door in a mission to “falsify the U.S. Census and manipulate elections in their favor” (again, Steele’s words).

There’s been an astonishing number of gun rampages in this country in the last month, and at least one (in Pittsburgh) was politically motivated, by a man who had been convinced that the liberals wanted to take away his guns. For Steele to choose this time to use inflammatory language to politicize the Census … well, this is a very frightening development. The comments accompanying TPM’s article make it seem like most readers are bemused by Steele’s letter. But it’s not a laughing matter.

Let’s describe Steele’s actions for what they are: The chairman of the Republican Party is raising money by politicizing the decennial Census and inciting violence against Census takers. I’m sure Steele would deny that he’s trying to incite people, but this letter is being mailed during a time of rampant violence, some of it targeting liberals. It must be viewed in this context.

TPM Reader JG:

I was a census taker in the year 2000 in Atlanta, which meant I followed up on forms that hadn’t been turned in.

I remember having a hard time getting any information at all from hard core right wing radio listeners — in this case, fans of Neal Boortz, Mr. Fair Tax, who is based in Atlanta. I had to beg and plead with them, citing the constitution’s call for a census, before they would even tell me how many people lived in the house. Never would give me their names.

Don’t be surprised if tax protesters turn into census protesters, which will screw things up. Who knows? Maybe the right wing will disappear completely after the 2010 census.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

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