It's bad enough that the Islamist organizations more than double the actual number of Muslims living in the United States (as I showed in a 2001 article, "How Many U.S. Muslims?"). Worse is that the Arab-American organizations are now tripling their alleged population, as I briefly noted in November 2003. Trouble is, that whereas the U.S. Bureau of the Census cannot ask about religious affiliation, it can and does ask about ethnicity, so we do have hard statistics on Arab-Americans, undercutting the silly, boosterish claims.
A census study released yesterday, We the People of Arab Ancestry in the United States (why the cloying title, by the way?), reports on the 2000 figures: Approximately 850,000 U.S. residents report exclusive Arab ancestry, while about 340,000 residents report both Arab and non-Arab ancestry. In other words, a total of 1,190,000 residents report Arab ancestry on at least one side, or 0.3 percent of the total U.S. population.
To these figures, James Zogby sourly responds that his organization, the Arab American Institute (AAI), "projects the ethnic population to be more than 3 times the number of ancestry responses" found by the census bureau. Al-Jazeera reports that Nawar Shora, legal adviser for the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, says the alleged undercount results from fear among Arab-Americans "because of the negative stereotypes that exist about the community" (despite the collecting having been done well in advance of September 11, 2001).
Comments: It would be a sign of maturity when the Arab American Institute and the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee stop bellyaching about the census numbers, deflate their own inflated figures, and begin to deal with reality. (March 9, 2005)
May 5, 2005 update: More grandstanding on numbers, this time from the newly-opened Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich. In a Wall Street Journal review, we learn that the museum claims 4.5 million Arab-Americans, almost four times more than the U.S. Census Bureau found in 2000. Explaining this discrepancy, Ismael Ahmed (who heads the Arab Community Center for Economics and Social Services, which built the museum) hypothesizes that Arabs in the United States don't check the box for "Arab."
Apr. 16, 2007 update: The Assyrian International News Agency has published a furious and fascinating analysis today, "Arab American Institute Still Deliberately Claiming Assyrians Are Arabs," that meticulously documents how the AAI contintues, despite promises to the contrary, to count Assyrians, Maronites, and Copts as "Arabs." This matters, writes AINA:
The practical ramifications of the AAI's desire to usurp Assyrian identity are by no means trivial. By counting Assyrians and other Middle Eastern Christian groups as Arabs, AAI attempts to enhance its demographic and, by extension, political clout in the U.S. This enhanced Arab political clout may then be used to further an agenda that is at best alien and sometimes outright hostile to Assyrian self-awareness and aspirations. Arab American demographic claims illegitimately bolstered by Assyrian numbers may also be used to vie for grants, financial assistance, and services otherwise destined for the Assyrian community to instead further Arab cultural, linguistic, social welfare, and nationalist goals.
Mar. 19, 2010 update: It's a bit off-topic, but we learn today that the Nawar Shora who was exaggerating the number of Arab-Americans in 2005 has just been appointed a senior adviser to the office of civil rights and liberties at the Transportation Security Administration. James Zogby is delighted, of course. Get ready for an already ineffectual and intrusive system becoming even worse.