KABUL HAS FALLEN. The war is going well. So why do I feel so strangely detached from it all?
Two months ago, when I wrote "Comanche War Cry," I was burning for vengeance. I still am. But, somehow, Operation Enduring Freedom just doesn’t seem to pack the right punch.
I’m not sure what’s missing. Maybe the two-month delay had something to do with it. The fires of emotion flicker out quickly if they’re not stoked with fresh fuel.
But it also has to be the right fuel. And I’m not sure we’ve been getting the right fuel.
On September 11, thousands of us were slaughtered. The media played up our grief, but not our anger. Our outrage was denied.
We wanted vengeance! But we were promised something that sounded more like litigation a prolonged, constipated, military-economic operation to be carried out in some abstract courtroom of global "justice."
Our country couldn’t act without world support, we were told.
Vengeful feelings, we were told, should be suppressed.
Instead, we were praised for our compassion.
On September 14, a TV reporter asked President Bush for his "level of satisfaction" with America’s response.
Bush said Americans had "rallied." "I’m satisfied that the compassion of the nation has risen to the surface."
We couldn’t express rage, so we glorified compassion. We couldn’t have war heroes who destroyed our enemies, so we found other champions champions of compassion.
The cover of Newsweek (September 24) shows three New York firemen raising the American flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center. It was victory at "ground zero."
Many firemen and policemen courageously sacrificed their lives trying to save others. They paid the ultimate price to show their compassion. They were true heroes.
Yet, there was something missing from this firemen’s and policemen’s war.
Where was the victory? Who had been vanquished?;
The firemen had saved innocent lives, but they had not destroyed the enemy.
They were like the medics who die on the battlefield courageous, indispensable, genuinely heroic but incapable, on their own, of winning the war.
Government and media alike seemed to agree that it was only through the "medics," the non-combatants, that we were allowed to vent our rage.
The firemen were appointed to express the emotions of us all.
But they could not express the full range of those emotions.
Neither could those Northern Alliance mujahideen riding in triumph through the streets of Kabul.
It felt good to see liberated Afghans shaving their beards, blasting their music and removing their veils.
But where were the Americans? Where were our boys wreaking vengeance on the enemy?
Whatever tentative feelings of satisfaction we may have gotten from the fall of Kabul are being quickly doused by media spinmeisters fretting over "human rights violations" on the part of our Afghan allies.
Maybe it’s our Christian culture coming into play.
"There’s power in the blood!" says the old 1899 evangelical hymn. The song referred to Christ’s sacrificial blood.
In our Judeo-Christian psyche, "Christ is the archetype of the hero, representing man’s highest aspirations," noted psychologist Carl Jung.
Americans seem more disposed to lament over the blood of victims than to honor the blood of warriors or, worse yet, revel in the blood of enemies.
We really "bled" here in Oklahoma City back on April 19, 1995. After the Murrah Federal Building was bombed, we Oklahomans showed the world how to lick each other’s wounds.
We reveled in victimhood, and even competed for it.
There’s a famous picture of OKC fireman Chris Fields gently holding in his arms the body of little Baylee Almon, a one-year-old girl. He held the world’s heart in his hands, and the picture won a Pulitzer.
A great bronze sculpture was to be made of it, as a centerpiece in the OKC memorial.
But a black grandmother protested. She’d lost three grandchildren in the bombing (records show one), and said it was unfair to "honor" any single victim. (Baylee was white.)
The statue project was scrapped.
Victim equality was preserved.
In the old days, Indian warriors never indulged victimhood. A young man trained with voluntary self-torture, to prove he could take pain. The "power" in that blood was courage. It was needed for battle.
Old warriors bragged about their battle scars, not to win pity, but to display their strength, courage and stoicism.
Americans are confused now.
We feel the power in the victim’s blood. But the victims’ blood will not save our country.
For that, we need the blood of warriors.