In journalism as in academia, the most important questions one has to learn are those which one may not ask. For instance, back in April on Bob Costas’ HBO sports show, football announcer Chris Collinsworth, a white, retired Cincinnati Bengal wide receiver, stuttered and stammered as he tried to say that he is so nervous about touching professionally on race in any way, because it could instantly end his announcing career, that he is afraid to ask any race-related questions.
In grad school, I always marveled at how some of my classmates knew exactly what questions not to ask. One contemporary academic non-question is, “Why, if black IQs are on average 15 points lower than white IQs, and the Constitution forbids unequal treatment under the law, would the government routinely hire people based on their being black, rather than based on their qualifications?” It’s a non-question; no one may ask it. Forget that you even read it here.
In that spirit, I have a compiled a series of “non-questions” regarding New Orleans. They only appear to be questions, but aren’t because I am not asking them, thus no answer is expected. I am just listing them so that it is clear that they may not be asked.
Why were New Orleans residents shooting at rescue workers in helicopters and boats, and firing on the contractors who were trying to fix the levee?
Why were so many thugs shooting and looting and raping and murdering on the streets of New Orleans and at the Superdome when a natural disaster hit town?
Is it true that the thugs who were shooting and looting and raping and murdering on the streets of New Orleans and at the Superdome were just doing what they do all time?
Why were virtually all of the looters and murderers and rapists and carjackers black?
Should we damn as racists the white and Asian foreign tourists who said they were being terrorized in the Superdome and on the streets of New Orleans based on the color of their skin, ignore their complaints, “disappear” alleged black-on-white and black-on-Asian crimes committed in the aftermath of Katrina, and arrest the tourists for racial insensitivity and hate crimes, since it is a well-known fact that blacks can only be the victims, but never the perpetrators of racism?
Why didn’t New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin use the 500 buses he had at his disposal to evacuate New Orleans residents before Katrina hit town?
Is President Bush getting so roundly criticized by the media and black political activists for not taking over rescue efforts sooner, because he is a white, heterosexual, Republican male, whereas Mayor Nagin is a black Democrat and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco is a female Democrat?
Although thousands of National Guard troops have been in New Orleans for several days, how come we have not heard of any of them shooting looters or violent criminals?
Why have we heard instead of New Orleans thugs beating National Guardspersons over the heads with pipes, shooting said National Guardspersons, and said National Guardspersons running away from said attackers?
Are the National Guardspersons’ rifles loaded with live ammunition?
Is it possible that, as with during and following the 1992 Los Angeles race riots, thousands of National Guardspersons are marching around New Orleans with unloaded weapons?
Had President Bush, in the face of Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco’s incompetence, taken over rescue efforts days ago, would the President now be enduring the same criticisms he is now receiving, or worse criticisms?
How can federal authorities such as FEMA take over the role of first-responders, as the attacks on the feds have implied they should have, if the police and fire persons are all locals, and it takes days for FEMA to arrive on the scene?
If everything to do with New Orleans’ troubles is a federal affair, should not the federal government put the city in federal receivership, and render Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco powerless, regarding the city’s management?
Should we ignore the New York Times’ years-long, successful opposition (including just last spring) to the feds spending billions of taxpayer dollars to fix New Orleans’ levees, in light of the newspaper’s current charges of federal malfeasance for not having fixed the levees?
As I said at the outset, the above sentences are non-questions. They are not to be asked, let alone answered, least of all by yours truly. They are all off-limits – if you know what’s good for you! Forget you ever read this column.