Michael Moore called him a “coward.” Peter Mass of Glenn Greenwald’s the Intercept slammed him for calling Iraqis “savages.” Former Daily Beast reporter Max Blumenthal described him as a “mass murderer” — a sentiment later echoed on a defaced billboard that’s advertising the most popular movie in America.
The American Left is frothing at the mouth over Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of decorated Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in American Sniper.
Over the weekend, multiple Academy members told TheWrap that they had been passing around a recent article by Dennis Jett in The New Republic that attacks the film for making a hero out of Kyle, who said: “The enemy are savages and despicably evil,” and his “only regret is that I didn’t kill more.” Kyle made the statements in his best-selling book, “American Sniper,” on which the film is based…
“He seems like he may be a sociopath,” one Academy member told TheWrap, adding he had not yet seen the film but had read the article, which is being passed around…
In The Intercept … Peter Maass suggested that being true to one man’s experience is not enough. “There’s a dilemma at work: a war movie that is true of one American’s experience can be utterly false to the experience of millions of Iraqis and to the historical record,” he wrote. “Further, it’s no act of patriotism to celebrate, without context or discussion, a grunt’s view that the people killed in Iraq were animals deserving their six-feet-under fate.”
[Liberal filmmaker Robert] Greenwald argued the film sends the message that “there is no good Iraqi except for a dead Iraqi. Murphy, a veteran himself, shot back that Greenwald’s exaggerating and isn’t considering how the movie humanizes Iraqis who worked with Americans to stop the real enemy.
Greenwald acknowledged some of the humanization of Chris Kyle in the film, but claimed, “What this movie will achieve will be more Americans believing and cheering for more wars and then more veterans being injured––more veterans losing arms and legs and their families destroyed.”
He told Ed Schultz that watching American Sniper “tore my guts apart,” and he was particularly sickened by how “people in the movie theater were cheering after every time an Iraqi got shot.”
Likewise, much of the US right wing appears to have seized upon American Sniper with similarly shallow comprehension – treating it with the same unconsidered, rah-rah reverence that they would the national anthem or the flag itself. Only a few weeks into its release, the film has been flattened into a symbol to serve the interests of an ideology that, arguably, runs counter to the ethos of the film itself. How much, if at all, should Eastwood concern himself with fans who misunderstand and misuse his work? If he, intentionally or not, makes a hero out of Kyle – who, bare minimum, was a racist who took pleasure in dehumanising and killing brown people – is he responsible for validating racism, murder, and dehumanisation? Is he a propagandist if people use his work as propaganda?
That question came to the fore last week on Twitter when several liberal journalists drew attention to Kyle’s less Oscar-worthy statements. “Chris Kyle boasted of looting the apartments of Iraqi families in Fallujah,” wrote author and former Daily Beast writer Max Blumenthal. “Kill every male you see,” Rania Khalek quoted, calling Kyle an “American psycho”…
There is no room for the idea that Kyle might have been a good soldier but a bad guy; or a mediocre guy doing a difficult job badly; or a complex guy in a bad war who convinced himself he loved killing to cope with an impossible situation; or a straight-up serial killer exploiting an oppressive system that, yes, also employs lots of well-meaning, often impoverished, non-serial-killer people to do oppressive things over which they have no control. Or that Iraqis might be fully realised human beings with complex inner lives who find joy in food and sunshine and family, and anguish in the murders of their children. Or that you can support your country while thinking critically about its actions and its citizenry. Or that many truths can be true at once.
The irony was that the movie’s makers and stars didn’t think they were making a gift to pro-war conservatives. The film’s D.C. premiere was attended by Vice President Joe Biden, who often ends speeches with “God bless our troops.” In an interview with Asawin Suebsaeng, Bradley Cooper rejected any political read on the movie, or even the idea that it made a normative argument about entering Iraq in 2003.
But the political culture’s read on the movie isn’t really up to Cooper. If last week’s debate was whether the Academy was too white to reward Selma, this week’s is whether liberal Hollywood will reject a war movie that most Americans actually want to see.
We in America, by going to see this movie, are celebrating barbarism. We are celebrating murder. We are celebrating a sociopath. How dare Eastwood do this and how dare we fall for it! That chorus is being joined by more and more people, particularly in Hollywood and on the left. After all, folks, it’s about a redneck from Texas who is better using a gun than anybody ever has been. What is there for Hollywood to like about that?
It’s everything Hollywood hates: Rednecks, Texas, guns. Add to it war, Iraq? “Wrong, immoral, because of Bush. What’s the guy doing? Killing innocent Iraqis, a murderer! No wonder America is hated in the world. This movie demonstrates why.” That’s what they’re doing to American Sniper, and they’re just getting started.
What has more likely caused some controversy over American Sniper is not the sniper profession per se of Chris Kyle (since snipers were not de facto deemed suspect in prior films), but three other considerations:
a) American Sniper often portrays the Islamist insurgents as savage, and Kyle as complex, but nevertheless both patriotic and heroic in protecting other Americans from them;
b) the movie does not serve as a blanket damnation of the Iraq war, at least as is otherwise typical for the Hollywood Iraq film genre; in this regard, unlike many recent Hollywood film titles with the proper noun American in them (e.g., American Hustle, American Gangster, American Psycho, American History X, American Beauty, etc.), the film quite unusually does not dwell on American pathologies; and
c) perhaps most important, the film is very successful, and has resonated with the public at the precise time when other recent movies more welcomed by the establishment, such as Selma, have so far not.
While Kyle was risking his life over four tours of duty to protect his country and innocent Iraqi civilians from evil, savage terrorists, the American Left, and most especially the Hollywood Left, were using every weapon at their disposal to ensure untold millions of innocent Iraqis were fed into a terrorist/death squad meat grinder.
The Left made no secret of this. At the height of the Iraq War, Democrats, the mainstream media, and Hollywood fought tooth and nail for America to pull prematurely out of Iraq. The very same people lying about Chris Kyle today are the very same people who demanded we abandon Iraq to the terrorists, and with it, 25 million innocent Iraqi civilians.
To further this evil and sinister goal, Left-wing Hollywood went so far as to build bombs for al Qaeda. Not actual bombs. Worse, these were box office bombs — movies, the ultimate propaganda tool. More than a billion dollars was spent on more than a dozen box office bombs that portrayed America, our military, and our troops as either no better than terrorists, or worse than terrorists…
Had the Left won the day, the results of an American withdrawal would have resulted in a holocaust for the millions of Iraqi civilians who, just a few years before, had turned out in extraordinary numbers to vote for the self-determination awarded to them by the likes of Chris Kyle.
Second, it tells a story that America isn’t told. I’ve beaten this drum for a while now, but one of my core criticisms of movies about the War on Terror is that they flinch — not when telling of the horrors of war for American soldiers — but when describing the true nature of the enemy. American Sniper goes where no movie has gone before in showing how the enemy uses children, kills children, and savagely tortures its enemies (Kyle discovers a torture room in Fallujah, and its portrayal is very close to reality). The movie isn’t excessively grisly (so wide audiences can see it), but one doesn’t need to show the close-up of a terrorist killing a young boy with a power drill to understand what just happened. When Kyle describes the enemy as “savages,” you know exactly why, and you agree with him.
But it’s not just telling the story of the enemy, but also of a key reality about our soldiers that many Americans don’t get. Of course war is horrifying. There are real consequences in PTSD and survivor guilt, and for tens of thousands there are real consequences in enduring physical wounds. Your psychological reality can essentially “flip” for a time so that you become a better functioning warrior than you are husband or father (in one telling moment, Kyle lands back in Iraq for yet another deployment, and a fellow SEAL tells him “welcome home,”) but here’s the thing: The vast majority of soldiers get through that trauma and emerge on the other side, often better men. At the end of the movie we see a Chris Kyle who’s a good husband and father — who’s truly “home” — extending his mission of helping his brothers by helping them heal…
No one is claiming that Chris Kyle is Jesus. Every human being has flaws. And he risked no more and no less than the thousands upon thousands of anonymous soldiers and Marines who fought house-to-house during their own turns downrange, but he undeniably did his job better than any man who came before him — or any man since — and he did that job as part of his selfless service to our nation. I’m thankful that my own son counts Chris Kyle as a hero.
“American Sniper” does not, however, much address the overall complexity of the larger political issues surrounding the war — or the complexity of the Iraqi side of the experience. And that’s OK. Kyle, much like many I served with, and our president himself during most of the Iraq War, held a very black-and-white view of the conflict. We were right, they were wrong. That’s how they saw things. Eastwood and Cooper have both commented extensively that they looked to classic Hollywood Westerns to inspire this film. And they succeeded. In “American Sniper,” like in Chris Kyle and George Bush’s Iraq War, American troops wore the white hats, and Iraqi fighters wore the black ones. That was their war. That was their truth.
It was not the war I saw during my time as an infantry platoon leader in Baghdad, and not the war many others saw overflowing with spectrums of gray. But it was the war Chris Kyle and many others saw. This is a real and important perspective that must be explored and showcased in order to truly understand the broader American experience of the Iraq War…
The film exposes the incomparable distance we’ve created (and irresponsibly allowed to grow) in this country between what is now essentially a warrior class and everyone else. It’s tearing open a shameful national boil of a discussion that’s been bubbling below our collective skin for far too long. And with that, it performs an exceptionally important public service in a way only film can.
Via the Free Beacon.
“The ideal thing would be if I knew the number of lives I saved, because that’s something I’d love to be known for.”