Je Suis Chris Kyle
The reviews are in.
“‘American Sniper’ Is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize,” declares Rolling Stone.
Max Blumenthal of Alternet exclaims, “[T]he whole film’s appeal seems to derive from the latent racism that led America into Iraq.”
And Lindy West of The Guardian says, “The real American Sniper was a hate-filled killer. Why are simplistic patriots treating him as a hero?”
The Left has spoken, and it has given American Sniper two fingers way up — though it has eschewed the traditional thumbs in favor of digits more centrally-located. The movie’s success, driven largely by red-state enthusiasm, has invoked an onslaught of criticism centered around two main charges: that the film presents a far too simplistic account of the Iraq War, and a not-simplistic-enough portrayal of its subject, the late Navy SEAL sniper, Chris Kyle. Mostly relying on out-of-context quotes from Kyle’s 2012 autobiography — in which he refers to enemy combatants as “savages,” and remarks that he “could give a flyin’ fuck about [the Iraqis]” when discussing his motivations on the battlefield — these critics have questioned American Sniper‘s depiction of Kyle as an emotionally-torn hero, helpfully offering such alternatives as “#AmericanPsycho,” “a racist who took pleasure in dehumanising and killing brown people,” and “kind of a dick.”
Or better yet, a jingoistic meathead who lapped up the lies his idiot president told him, dutifully connected Saddam to 9/11, and ignored the fact that al Qaeda hadn’t arrived in Iraq until after America had kicked the doors down. Shockingly, in the eyes of the anti-war Left, the most lethal sniper in American military history recorded over 160 official kills while registering zero regrets about taking lives; he firmly believed that his country was noble and good, and that the individuals trying to murder his fellow American soldiers were bad guys who deserved a bullet in their chest… or head, should he catch the wind just right. Rather than agonizing over Abu Ghraib, or pondering Halliburton’s quarterly profits, Chris Kyle set up his rifle during some of the most dangerous battles of the war — in Fallujah, in Ramadi, in Sadr City — with only one thought on his mind: making sure, to the very best of his ability, that his brothers came home with him that night.
His liberal critics can label that outlook simplistic, but they should have the self-awareness to realize that their own arguments are no more nuanced or intellectual. All they’ve done is switch the villain of the story; and while using an extensive vocabulary to rail against the evils of the United States may curry favor in elite circles, it doesn’t necessarily lead one to an objectively sound evaluation. Circa 2003, multiple intelligence agencies — not simply our own, but also those of Britain, Germany, Russia, China, Israel and France — believed that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Duelfer Report released after the war’s inception indicated that, while Iraq did not have an active WMD program, its dictator had the capability, and intent, to revive it once the world’s attention had waned. And yet, the Left never tires of its nursery rhyme about Bush lying, and people dying. Is that not simplistic? Is there nothing simplistic about ignoring the horrors perpetrated by Saddam and his sons, and imagining their Iraq as a harmless world actor and a decent place to raise a family? Or asserting that a president would send thousands of men and women off to die to avenge his daddy? Or throwing out casualty figures to insinuate that American soldiers were recklessly targeting civilians, rather than the vicious insurgents hiding amongst them? Are these the results of rigorous analytics and advanced cerebral acumen?
And what is more simplistic than the journalist, safely ensconced in his cushy cubicle, sitting in judgment of the military man and instructing him on how he should behave in combat? That the film critic, the blogger, or the morbidly obese Twitter enthusiast, maladroitly dodging papercuts in their workplace, should deign to criticize the wartime demeanor of the SEAL, the Marine or the soldier, skillfully dodging gunfire and IEDs in his, should be beyond absurd. And yet, the critics of American Sniper, by and large, have not trained their ire on the usual cinematic targets but have instead attacked the film’s subject, saying that Kyle’s warrior ethos does not warrant the praise that Eastwood’s movie bestows upon him. They read Kyle’s words about fighting “savages,” or his description of killing as “fun,” or his gushing words of praise for God and the country he signed up to defend, and they see a misguided man, at best; a soulless murderer at worst. They see a man who has been brainwashed, who believes in all of the foolish fables that were once taught in school, but which political science and men of true intelligence have consigned to the ash heap of history. In short, they see a man consumed by base religion; literally, in his devout faith in Christianity, but in a more figurative sense as well: he is another backwards congregant in the church of American exceptionalism, and he and his ilk should be shunned, rather than revered. Kyle, you see, committed the ultimate mortal sin in today’s society: he actually believed that he lived in, and was fighting for, the greatest nation on the face of the earth. So unabashed was his love for the United States, that he wrote in his autobiography (much to his wife’s dismay) that, “If I had to order my priorities, they would be God, Country, Family.”
The Left can mock such sensibilities, but it has a religion of its own, which it clings to in the face of all common sense and factual contradiction: the religion of multiculturalism. To this faith, liberalism has offered its unconditional devotion, envisioning a world where all cultures are equal, where no nation is granted preeminence, and where all peoples can live in harmony. It is the most simplistic worldview of all, ignoring the evil forces that are constantly vying for our attention with bombings, mass gunfire and beheadings. Chris Kyle may have been stubborn in his beliefs; but isn’t his intransigence outmatched by a liberal mindset unwilling to concede that the “Islamic State” might have something to do with Islam? Which argues that terrorism can be assuaged by emptying out the prison at Guantanamo Bay, while it watches those released militants return to the front lines? Or which considers the violence committed by the Ba’athist loyalists of the murderous Saddam Hussein, and the drugged up fanatics of al Qaeda in Iraq — the insurgency that Kyle was picking off one by one — and emerges convinced that their actions were somehow justified?
If the last month has taught us anything, it’s that the world is in desperate need of more Chris Kyles. The “Je Suis Charlie” fad was emblematic of the far-too-common reaction of liberalism to modern atrocities: initial disgust, followed by a lazy response that does not require actual action, followed by the quick slidestep back into the steady stream of ignorant bliss. What the Charlies have missed over the last few weeks is the backlash to their sloganeering: as they’ve resumed their advocacy for the overwhelmingly peaceful Muslim moderates, those overwhelmingly peaceful Muslim moderates have been gathering in the tens of thousands in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan to rage against Charlie Hebdo. The followers of Muhammed can be quite stubborn too, you see, and they still don’t care to watch their prophet cavorting about on the funny pages. And unlike the majority of folks in the West, who turned their heads the moment the last placard was exiled to the dumpster following that peaceful jaunt through Paris a few weeks ago, these true believers will not stop until the world gouges out its critical eye and places Islam beyond the pale of ridicule and scrutiny. The West may avert its gaze, but the fundamentalists raging throughout the Middle East and elsewhere are unshakeable in their view that their ideology is supreme, and that all other cultures should take a subservient role.
Chris Kyle, like so many others who have tread solemnly into danger as members of the military, believed just as fervently in his own worldview; in the American worldview. He dispensed with the tripe that routinely clutters the dialogue about “America’s role in the world,” and believed what his own two eyes could see: that the United States was a rare exception in the mostly miserable historical condition of mankind; that his country, despite its flaws, was an unequaled force for good; that its people were good as well, and would never pursue policy driven by sinister motives; that there was evil in this world, but that it did not emanate from the mind of his president, but from the individuals that he peered at through his rifle scope. He recognized what the entire world once openly admitted: that all cultures, all worldviews are not equal. Chris Kyle, quite simply, had moral clarity.
The Left, since American Sniper’s record-breaking release, has bristled at assertions of high-minded principle applied to a man who spoke openly about his love for shooting people. However, those who criticize Kyle’s conduct during the Iraq War are ignorant of the facts. His book details all of the Rules of Engagement that governed his every action on the battlefield. Kyle and his fellow snipers were required to explain every shot they took, and those explanations required firm grounding in observable fact, not overly-aggressive impulses. These were not murderers firing indiscriminately, but soldiers killing those who were actively trying to kill Americans; and that’s “actively” not in the “Hey Khaled, we should really get together to finish that plan to kill Americans” sense, but in the “Hey Khaled, hold my kebab while I aim this RPG” sense. Whether such individuals were the loyal followers of a brutal dictator, or religious zealots who had cast their lot with the terrorists responsible for 9/11, they were worthy of the word “savages” and they earned every bullet that Kyle ripped through their torsos. Those men and women were not, as some on the Left like to cast them, turbaned or burqa-clad reincarnations of George Washington and Samuel Adams, defending their homeland against an aggravated invasion. These were people who had made the wrong choice in a contest between good and evil. And while liberals, engorged from feeding on multicultural mush, can peddle half-truths about America’s responsibility for driving innocent Iraqis into the terrorists’ ranks, the rest of the world must contest such attempts to rationalize malevolence. Saddam Hussein was evil. Al Qaeda remains evil. They — just like ISIS, the Taliban and the Kouachi brothers — represent a worldview that deserves no place in any society, and those who willfully align with them deserve the type of justice that “the Legend” dispensed through the barrel of his rifle. The West — yes, the same West in which Seth Rogan, Michael Moore, Matthew Taibbi, Max Blumenthal, and Lindy West live and safely earn a decent living — represents the flipside of that cultural coinage, a civilization that is certainly not flawless, but which still embodies the ideals of all that is right. That’s flipside, as in the direct opposite, and not simply a similar coin with slightly different markings that trades at the same value. There is a hierarchy, and it must be preserved. Chris Kyle recognized that until he breathed his last.
And not only did he recognize it, but he also had the courage to stand up and defend it. So often, we hear our so-called intellectuals wonder how the war against radical… something or other… can be won. The key is currently on display in theaters throughout the nation. Chris Kyle embodied fearlessness and bravery, and that is why he is so threatening to so many on the Left. Multiculturalism, when stripped of its colorful outer garments of diversity and tolerance, is simply the credo of cowardice. How do you avoid confrontation with militant Islam? You simply ignore it. You imagine a world where Islam is only ever a “religion of peace,” and where anyone committing violence is automatically ineligible for the love fest occurring within the the tent of Mohammed. You envision a world where all cultures are more than happy to co-exist, and you place any blame for conflicts on yourself, so as to not anger anyone else. That is the worldview of dishonesty and fear. And it is the antithesis of what is depicted on screen during American Sniper. It is the antithesis of the way its subject lived his life. When you read his words, when you hear Bradley Cooper repeat them, you encounter a man who refused to play along with the charade, who refused to join the conspiracy of silence and instead spoke the truth. Chris Kyle’s all-too-brief life can be summed up thusly: he drew a line in the sand, and he was supremely confident in where he chose to stand. It is troubling and frustrating to watch our fellow citizens line up against him, shouting, “Murderer!” and “Racist!”; but the thousands who have flocked to theaters these last few weeks to stand beside him indicate that there is still reason for optimism.
If the Western world is to survive the current war being waged upon it, then it will need more men like Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle. To defeat a single-minded opponent who is unequivocally confident in his own righteousness, we will need to respond with the same level of unified will. That requires us to first confirm what it is we are fighting for. We must attest to the inherent superiority of our culture, our traditions, our faith and our history every bit as boldly as Chris Kyle did. We must identify evil as “savage.” We must be stubborn in our belief that our efforts are noble, and that our way of life deserves a preeminent place in society. We must have the courage to step forward together, selflessly, without fear, to defend those ideals.
And when we encounter opposition, from those who would hold us back with multiculturalist gutlessness, we should respond to their lectures of disapproval the same way Chris Kyle would:
“I could give a flyin’ fuck.”