What is the poverty rate? How should the government allocate local funds? How many people in an area need representation by Congress? These are just some of the crucial questions that can only be answered by an accurate census of the American people. But lately, anything associated with the Federal government has come under increased suspicion by extreme right-wing critics of President Obama.
In rural eastern Kentucky, on September 12th, 51-year old part-time census worker, teacher, single father, and cancer survivor, Bill Sparkman was found murdered. He was reported by witnesses who came across the body in a wooded private cemetery as being hung from a tree, naked, with the word “FED” scrawled on his chest and his census worker badge duct taped to his neck. While the federal government is not committing to these facts, it is clear that it is being investigated as a federal crime against someone who was working for the government.
What are the possible causes for this horrific incident? Some have pointed to Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) anti-census tirade, in which she insinuated that the information gathered by the Obama administration would be used to round people up to put them in internment camps (based on what demographics is unclear). Some blame the newly-stoked anti-government sentiment on right-wing commentators like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh, whose fan base is primarily white southern males. Possibly, a return to the 90’s era Militia Movement may be imminent. Sociological theories such as structural strain were used to explain anti-government action then. But it’s hard to ignore the rampant racism and concerns over “Socialism” (thinly disguised fear of Obama’s Muslim heritage) as a potentially significant impetus for such an extreme reaction to a schoolteacher asking questions which get asked every ten years. This week, the Secret Service began investigating a FaceBook poll which asked if Obama should be assassinated.
Although the mainstream media has been adequate in their coverage of this murder, more questions and discussions need to happen in the public sphere to bring these dark malignant motivations into the light of day.