EVERYONE has 'em. Questions, that is. Questions that baffle, mystify and leave us pondering. Some questions are important, some frivolous. Some of them are rhetorical, others beg for a response.
For example, how do you answer the peacenik crowd, the blame-America-firsters, the borderline masochists who asked, one day after Sept. 11: Why do they hate us?
Got that question, everybody? Why do religious fanatics hate us? Prompts other queries, doesn't it? Like: Why should we care? Or: Do we really want religious fanatics to love us?
Americans, being the well-adjusted souls we are, don't rise in the morning, look in the mirror and then say, "Gee, I think I'll get a religious fanatic to love me today." It's just not on the agenda.
Charles Jacobs, the head of the American Anti-Slavery Group who opposes all adversaries with the bravado of a stripper at a funeral, posed a counter-question."'Why do they hate us?' the left wants to ask," says Jacobs, whose organization has documented incidents of slavery in the Sudan and Mauritania and agitated for abolition. "How come they would never ask the Ku Klux Klan how come they hate blacks, or why Hitler hated Jews?"
Third Worlders who despise the United States get the benefit of all kinds of doubts among American left-wingers, who aren't even ashamed about letting their bias show. One e-mailed me about the need for us to stop bombing the "poor" country of Afghanistan -- as if being poor makes it OK for the Taliban to harbor terrorists and murder their own people -- and suggested we should be trying to take O-Slimy bin Laden to the World Court.
I took the bait and posed a question of my own: Name one terrorist who's been found guilty of terrorism in an international court. The answer was revealing.
"In 1986," the e-mailer proudly wrote, "the World Court found the U.S. guilty of terrorizing Nicaragua."
Let's be clear about this. With all the terrorism that's gone on in the world since 1986, the only "terrorist" an international court has "convicted" has been the United States government? Not bin Laden? No one from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaida, Hezbollah or any other Arab terrorist groups?
No one in Rwanda? None of the so-called rebels in Sierra Leone who murder, rape and maim? Just the United States?
Here's one question that everybody can automatically answer: Does the World Court sound like a disinterested and unbiased body? Absolutely not!
Another question the peaceniks ask (they've got a million of 'em) is this: Can one be patriotic and question the war against terrorism? (This is followed by moans of sympathy for civilian casualties in Afghanistan.)
It's not their patriotism that's suspect, but their judgment. This is not the case where Lyin' Lyndon Johnson, in the summer of 1964, shucked and jived the American people and the U.S. Senate into supporting the Gulf of Tonkin resolution -- which escalated the Vietnam War and gave LBJ a blank check to bomb North Vietnam -- by claiming attacks on two American naval ships that never occurred.
This war came after a deliberate attack on American soil that killed thousands. President Bush waited nearly a month and gave the Taliban a clear option: Hand over bin Laden, or bad things will happen.
The first bombs landed Oct. 7. As of this date, the Taliban have had 38 days to comply. They could have handed bin Laden over the first day, today or any day in between. They chose not to. So who's really to blame for any civilian casualties in Afghanistan?
On a more local level, here's a question for members of our illustrious Baltimore City Council, the original "punt-on-first-down" crew: When will they insist that Carmen Russo, the schools' chief executive officer, come before them and answer questions about the dismal performance of city students who took the most recent functional math and reading tests?
The results of those tests must be a painful reminder to Baltimore citizens. Only 62 percent of students in grades six through 12 passed the reading test. The passing rate for the math test -- an embarrassingly easy, sixth grade-level measure of basic arithmetic -- was 18 percent.
We haven't heard a peep from the council about this horrid state of affairs. When police Commissioner Ed Norris fired Deputy Commissioner Barry Powell and Col. James Hawkins this past spring, you couldn't get this bunch to shut up. They huffed and puffed and harrumphed and demanded that Norris appear before them with an explanation.
Apparently the jobs of Powell and Hawkins mean more to this body than the future of Baltimore students, who will have no jobs -- not good ones, anyway -- unless they are functional in reading and math.
An odd set of priorities for public servants. Since they haven't answered the Russo question, here's another, along with a challenge:
Have you taken the functional math and reading tests? If not, please do, along with the functional algebra and geometry tests that will soon be graduation requirements. Here's hoping your math reasoning is better than your political judgment.