Unsurpisingly, West — who admits in her piece that she has not read Kyle’s book — has torn Kyle’s quotes out of context. “I hated the damn savages I’d been fighting,” he wrote (my emphasis). “I always will. They’ve taken so much from me.”
The use of the word “savages,” which has occasioned so much antipathy, requires context, too. “Savage, despicable evil. That’s what we were fighting in Iraq,” Kyle writes in the book’s prologue. “There really was no other way to describe what we encountered there.” The word “savage” appears seven times in Kyle’s book. “Brown” appears five times — to describe Kyle’s clothing, a cloud, and buildings.
Kyle’s comment that he “could give a flying f*** about” the Iraqis is not straightforward, either. It comes in the context of discussing why Kyle fought at all: “I didn’t risk my life to bring democracy to Iraq. I risked my life for my buddies, to protect my friends and fellow countrymen. I went to war for my country, not Iraq. My country sent me out there so that bullsh*t wouldn’t make its way back to our shores. I never once fought for the Iraqis. I could give a flying f*** about them.” Critics can debate whether Kyle should have taken a liking to the locals, but his apathy toward Iraqis clearly has nothing to do with race.