Monday, January 26, 2015

American Sniper: To Love War, Find Killing Fun, Really Doesn’t Sound Like the Stuff of Heroes to Me

You Tube Video Clip of Clint Eastwood
 and Bradley Cooper on the set of ‘American Sniper’
I have known extraordinary men and women in my life. They have courageously been there for family and strangers alike when they desperately needed help. They sacrificed and unselfishly gave of themselves during difficult times, often under precarious circumstances, because they cared about the wellbeing of people. They did it willingly without compensation or even recognition. They are extraordinary people. If faced with the same circumstances they are the kind of people I would hope to emulate. They are the kind of people I call heroes. They are the kind of people I want my children and grandchildren to regard as heroes.

That’s the problem with ‘American Sniper.’ A new Academy Award nominated film about the life of Navy Seal Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle. A film based on Kyle’s bestselling autobiography of the same name. Kyle became the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. He scored 160 confirmed kills, and achieved 225 probable kills. Kyle may have been a good soldier but his escapades during four combat tours in Iraq are not the stuff of heroes. He is not the extraordinary human being he is portrayed to be. Yet an overwhelming number of Americans believe Kyle is a hero.

Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post writes, “In the film, Chris uses the word ‘savages,’ but ‘American Sniper’ doesn’t make room to explore the depth of his contempt for Iraqis. He drove cars at them at high speed to see them get scared: ‘Their high-pitched screams, coupled with sprints in the opposite direction, had me doubled over. Cheap thrills in Iraq were priceless,’ he wrote in his memoir. He bragged about stealing from their homes against orders. He compared them to American welfare recipients in their dependency and inability to handle freedom.

Megan Garber, a staff writer at The Atlantic, writes, “In Kyle’s book, he admitted, ‘I love war.’ He described killing as ‘fun.’ He noted that ‘I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the Iraqis,’ going on to explain that ‘I hate the damn savages.’ But are the sacrifices of war still sacrifices when you enjoy them? Is heroism still heroism when you’re motivated by hatred?”

And a must read from one of my favorite authors, Chris Hedges, author of “War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.” He writes a compelling piece,  on the culture of war.

In “Killing Ragheads for Jesus,” he writes, “The culture of war banishes the capacity for pity. It glorifies self-sacrifice and death. It sees pain, ritual humiliation and violence as part of an initiation into manhood.”

The movie, American Sniper, is not honest about war. It tells a very different story, where “We end up talking about Chris Kyle and his dilemmas, and not about the Rumsfelds and Cheneys and other officials up the chain who put Kyle and his high-powered rifle on rooftops in Iraq and asked him to shoot women and children.”

Copyright © 2015 Horatio Green