On American Sniper and all the critics

First I will say I have not seen the movie. I know the story hits me pretty hard so I’m waiting until I can watch it at home. I have read the book though and the movie isn’t what I am planning on discussing anyway.

I have seen a lot of criticisms of Chris as a person and some of them are right. He likely did make some stuff up about his career and things he’s done. The question is who hasn’t exaggerated their life at some point? Others are way off such as calling him a coward or a terrorist or denigrating his service because it was to the critic the wrong war for the wrong reasons (never mind that even the New York Times now admits that we did find WMDs in Iraq). These people don’t understand the nature of military service or what is involved. People in the service serve the politicians the people elect and their whims. Our only hope when we are sent somewhere is that we can do the job we were sent to do and bring everyone home alive. Chris Kyle did this with surgical precision and in a way only a small number will ever understand. Looking at a living thing through a high-power scope and making the kill or don’t kill decision creates a connection with the target that is almost intimate. To keep going out there over and over and doing that while not turning into a blubbering lunatic takes extraordinary mental discipline.

At the same time I’ve seen some criticisms of Kyle’s detractors thrown back I don’t care for either. Not because it’s aimed at the critics, but because some of it paints good people with a broad brush they don’t deserve. The comment in question was that anyone who does not serve in the military is a coward. I don’t agree with this. Some try and fail for medical reasons. Others just aren’t called to serve. A long time ago there was a study of people who enter the military, law enforcement and other “first responders” that found we are wired differently than most. Doesn’t mean those who don’t serve are cowards, just not hard wired to run towards the sound of trouble. However that doesn’t excuse Kyle’s detractors from being ignorant, sanctimonious assholes.

Greg “Pappy” Boyington is credited with saying: “Show me a hero, and I’ll show you a bum.” If you know who Greg Boyington was you know he’s spoke from personal experience, both as a hero and a bum. Chris Kyle had his faults, everyone does, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was a hero in Iraq and back at home where he died trying to help his brothers and sisters to deal with PTSD. Nothing can change that.


One response to “On American Sniper and all the critics

  1. I liked the balanced way you were able to look at both sides of this media-hyped controversy. I think it’s very hard for people to deal with deaths that are tragic, and whether or not you admire Chris Kyle, his murder was tragic.

    You were onto something important when you wrote about how we all filter the remembrance of our own lives and re-write the events in our heads to make our part more heroic and/or more blameless. In Chris Kyle’s case, it may also have been a coping mechanism, behavior prompted by his own PTSD. I believe that is the source of the proven inaccuracies in his autobiography.