The Fear of Signing



The count is on toward the 2020 U.S. Census, and we’re all invited to participate. Information sessions are being hosted all over our county. In fact one happened last night at ArtsWestchester. And there is are concerns afloat that many people will not be counted. I, for one, will be counted, but I can easily relate to the reluctance of some to be counted.

True story: when I went off to college, Syracuse University, my father sat me down for a serious chat. It wasn’t about the birds and bees or the dangers of weed. “Remember this,” he said. “Don’t sign anything.” It was the lingering fear had by parents of a certain generation. It was provoked by the infamous McCarthy hearings during a period of intense anti-Communist suspicion in the United States in the 1950s  U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, a Republican of Wisconsin, was known for his practice of making  accusations of subversion or treason without evidence. People in all walks of life became fearful about signing things.  They worried that, accidently or unintentionally, they might sign their name to something and somehow wind up being accused later of belonging to the Communist Party. It took a long time for many to get over the fear of signing.

This census is vitally important to all of us in America. It is the source by which federal funds are allocated, based on population count.  It is the measure for assigning seats in the House of Representative, based on head count. It is our right to be counted. Given the divisive nature of our discourse in recent times, there may be some who are reluctant to participate. Many worry that a low level of participation will negatively affect New York’s share of federal funding for health care, education and other benefits.  The census bureau has said that all responses to the census are protected for at least 72 years. That should make us all feel good about participating.  However, what makes most people feel good about participating is knowing that New York State will get a fair shake in the numbers.​

Watch the video below for more info on the 2020 Census: