LAUGHABLY BAD/MOTIVATED ‘JOURNALISM’: Several Arab American and an Iranian American groups have been lobbying for decades to get the US government to recognize a “Middle Eastern and North African” racial classification; currently, the US government classified Americans of MENA origin as “white.” The Biden administration has endorsed the change, and is currently reviewing comments on it (my comment opposing the change can be found here).

The Times apparently decided to join the campaign by conducting a survey of MENA Americans and how they identify. A methodologically sound survey would have found a randomly selected group of Americans with MENA descent, and surveyed them. Instead, the Times solicited responses on the Internet, and then contacted “community groups” (which likely did not include Israeli American or Mizrahi Jewish groups, both of which would be included in the new MENA classification) to find additional respondents. Some of these community groups are the same folks lobbying for a MENA classification, further distorting the results.

What would a methodologically sound survey have found? I don’t know. But here’s one data point from my book Classified: “In 2010, a coalition of Arab American groups sponsored an ad campaign urging their constituents to write in Arab on the census form, rather than checking the White box. The goal was to pressure the Census Bureau to add a MENA category on the next census. The tag line for the campaign was, “Check it Right! You Ain’t White.” Well over eighty percent of Arab Americans nevertheless checked the White box.”