went to see American Sniper
recently, and he's unhappy with the "haters" on the left who are critical of the film. Today he said, "Americans are now going to ‘American Sniper’ and they are seeing it and
they are seeing the animals...and the degenerates that we were going
in and fighting against." After the five minute clip below will be a review of the film by Chris Hedges
who is a much better writer to address the racism Beck is expressing about the victims of American aggression.
Mr. Beck's website:
Chris Hedges is a "hater," according to Beck, who wrote a highly critical piece about American Sniper
. Hedges spent 15 years as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times reporting from from Latin American, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.
He has also covered al Qaeda in Europe, and he was part of a team of
reporters that won the 2002 Pulitzer prize for their coverage of global
terrorism and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He is a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and writes an online column for the web site Truthdig. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto. His piece below, "Killing Ragheads for Jesus," is reprinted here with his permission.
Killing Ragheads for Jesus
lionizes the most despicable aspects of U.S. society—the gun culture,
the blind adoration of the military, the belief that we have an innate
right as a “Christian” nation to exterminate the “lesser breeds” of the
earth, a grotesque hypermasculinity that banishes compassion and pity, a
denial of inconvenient facts and historical truth, and a belittling of
critical thinking and artistic expression. Many Americans, especially
white Americans trapped in a stagnant economy and a dysfunctional
political system, yearn for the supposed moral renewal and rigid,
militarized control the movie venerates. These passions, if realized,
will extinguish what is left of our now-anemic open society.
The movie opens with a father and his young son hunting a deer. The
boy shoots the animal, drops his rifle and runs to see his kill.
“Get back here,” his father yells. “You don’t ever leave your rifle in the dirt.”
“Yes, sir,” the boy answers.
“That was a helluva shot, son,” the father says. “You got a gift. You gonna make a fine hunter some day.”
The camera cuts to a church interior where a congregation of white
Christians—blacks appear in this film as often as in a Woody Allen
movie—are listening to a sermon about God’s plan for American
Christians. The film’s title character, based on Chris Kyle, who would
become the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, will, it appears
from the sermon, be called upon by God to use his “gift” to kill
evildoers. The scene shifts to the Kyle family dining room table as the
father intones in a Texas twang: “There are three types of people in
this world: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. Some people prefer to believe
evil doesn’t exist in the world. And if it ever darkened their doorstep
they wouldn’t know how to protect themselves. Those are the sheep. And
then you got predators.”
The camera cuts to a schoolyard bully beating a smaller boy.
“They use violence to prey on people,” the father goes on. “They’re
the wolves. Then there are those blessed with the gift of aggression and
an overpowering need to protect the flock. They are a rare breed who
live to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdog. We’re not raising any
sheep in this family.”
The father lashes his belt against the dining room table.
“I will whup your ass if you turn into a wolf,” he says to his two
sons. “We protect our own. If someone tries to fight you, tries to bully
your little brother, you have my permission to finish it.”
There is no shortage of simpletons whose minds are warped by this
belief system. We elected one of them, George W. Bush, as president.
They populate the armed forces and the Christian right. They watch Fox
News and believe it. They have little understanding or curiosity about
the world outside their insular communities. They are proud of their
ignorance and anti-intellectualism. They prefer drinking beer and
watching football to reading a book. And when they get into power—they
already control the Congress, the corporate world, most of the media and
the war machine—their binary vision of good and evil and their myopic
self-adulation cause severe trouble for their country. “American
Sniper,” like the big-budget feature films pumped out in Germany during
the Nazi era to exalt deformed values of militarism, racial
self-glorification and state violence, is a piece of propaganda, a
tawdry commercial for the crimes of empire. That it made a record-breaking
$105.3 million over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday long weekend is a symptom of the United States’ dark malaise.
“The movie never asks the seminal question as to why the people of
Iraq are fighting back against us in the very first place,” said Mikey
Weinstein, whom I reached by phone in New Mexico. Weinstein, who worked
in the Reagan White House and is a former Air Force officer, is the head
of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation
which challenges the growing Christian fundamentalism within the U.S.
military. “It made me physically ill with its twisted, totally one-sided
distortions of wartime combat ethics and justice woven into the fabric
of Chris Kyle’s personal and primal justification mantra of
‘God-Country-Family.’ It is nothing less than an odious homage, indeed a
literal horrific hagiography to wholesale slaughter.”
Weinstein noted that the embrace of extreme right-wing Christian
chauvinism, or Dominionism, which calls for the creation of a theocratic
“Christian” America, is especially acute among elite units such as the SEALs
and the Army Special Forces.
The evildoers don’t take long to make an appearance in the film.
This happens when television—the only way the movie’s characters get
news—announces the 1998 truck bombings
of the American embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in which
hundreds of people were killed. Chris, now grown, and his brother,
aspiring rodeo riders, watch the news reports with outrage. Ted Koppel
talks on the screen about a “war” against the United States.
“Look what they did to us,” Chris whispers.
He heads down to the recruiter to sign up to be a Navy SEAL. We get
the usual boot camp scenes of green recruits subjected to punishing
ordeals to make them become real men. In a bar scene, an aspiring SEAL
has painted a target on his back and comrades throw darts into his skin.
What little individuality these recruits have—and they don’t appear to
have much—is sucked out of them until they are part of the military
mass. They are unquestioningly obedient to authority, which means, of
course, they are sheep.
We get a love story too. Chris meets Taya in a bar. They do shots. The movie slips, as it often does, into clichéd dialogue.
She tells him Navy SEALs are “arrogant, self-centered pricks who
think you can lie and cheat and do whatever the fuck you want. I’d never
date a SEAL.”
“Why would you say I’m self-centered?” Kyle asks. “I’d lay down my life for my country.”
“Because it’s the greatest country on earth and I’d do everything I can to protect it,” he says.
She drinks too much. She vomits. He is gallant. He helps her home.
They fall in love. Taya is later shown watching television. She yells to
Chris in the next room.
“Oh, my God, Chris,” she says.
“What’s wrong?” he asks.
“No!” she yells.
Then we hear the television announcer: “You see the first plane coming in at what looks like the east side. …”
Chris and Taya watch in horror. Ominous music fills the movie’s
soundtrack. The evildoers have asked for it. Kyle will go to Iraq to
extract vengeance. He will go to fight in a country that had nothing to
do with 9/11, a country that columnist Thomas Friedman once said we
attacked “because we could.” The historical record and the reality of
the Middle East don’t matter. Muslims are Muslims. And Muslims are
evildoers or, as Kyle calls them, “savages.” Evildoers have to be
Chris and Taya marry. He wears his gold Navy SEAL trident on the
white shirt under his tuxedo at the wedding. His SEAL comrades are at
“Just got the call, boys—it’s on,” an officer says at the wedding reception.
The Navy SEALs cheer. They drink. And then we switch to Fallujah. It
is Tour One. Kyle, now a sniper, is told Fallujah is “the new Wild
West.” This may be the only accurate analogy in the film, given the
genocide we carried out against Native Americans. He hears about an
enemy sniper who can do “head shots from 500 yards out. They call him
Mustafa. He was in the Olympics.”
Kyle’s first kill is a boy who is handed an anti-tank grenade by a young
woman in a black chador. The woman, who expresses no emotion over the
boy’s death, picks up the grenade after the boy is shot and moves toward
U.S. Marines on patrol. Kyle kills her too. And here we have the
template for the film and Kyle’s best-selling autobiography, “American
Sniper.” Mothers and sisters in Iraq don’t love their sons or their
brothers. Iraqi women breed to make little suicide bombers. Children are
miniature Osama bin Ladens. Not one of the Muslim evildoers can be
trusted—man, woman or child. They are beasts. They are shown in the film
identifying U.S. positions to insurgents on their cellphones, hiding
weapons under trapdoors in their floors, planting improvised explosive
devices in roads or strapping explosives onto themselves in order to be
suicide bombers. They are devoid of human qualities.
“There was a kid who barely had any hair on his balls,” Kyle says
nonchalantly after shooting the child and the woman. He is resting on
his cot with a big Texas flag behind him on the wall. “Mother gives him a
grenade, sends him out there to kill Marines.”
Enter The Butcher—a fictional Iraqi character created for the film.
Here we get the most evil of the evildoers. He is dressed in a long
black leather jacket and dispatches his victims with an electric drill.
He mutilates children—we see a child’s arm he amputated. A local sheik
offers to betray The Butcher for $100,000. The Butcher kills the sheik.
He murders the sheik’s small son in front of his mother with his
electric drill. The Butcher shouts: “You talk to them, you die with
Kyle moves on to Tour Two after time at home with Taya, whose chief
role in the film is to complain through tears and expletives about her
husband being away. Kyle says before he leaves: “They’re savages. Babe,
they’re fuckin’ savages.”
He and his fellow platoon members spray-paint the white skull of the
Punisher from Marvel Comics on their vehicles, body armor, weapons and
helmets. The motto they paint in a circle around the skull reads:
“Despite what your momma told you … violence does solve problems.”
“And we spray-painted it on every building and walls we could,” Kyle
wrote in his memoir, “American Sniper.” “We wanted people to know, we’re
here and we want to fuck with you. …You see us? We’re the people
kicking your ass. Fear us because we will kill you, motherfucker.
The book is even more disturbing than the film. In the film Kyle is a
reluctant warrior, one forced to do his duty. In the book he relishes
killing and war. He is consumed by hatred of all Iraqis. He is
intoxicated by violence. He is credited with 160 confirmed kills, but he
notes that to be confirmed a kill had to be witnessed, “so if I shot
someone in the stomach and he managed to crawl around where we couldn’t
see him before he bled out he didn’t count.”
Kyle insisted that every person he shot deserved to die. His
inability to be self-reflective allowed him to deny the fact that during
the U.S. occupation many, many innocent Iraqis were killed, including
some shot by snipers. Snipers are used primarily to sow terror and fear
among enemy combatants. And in his denial of reality, something former
slaveholders and former Nazis perfected to an art after overseeing their
own atrocities, Kyle was able to cling to childish myth rather than
examine the darkness of his own soul and his contribution to the war
crimes we carried out in Iraq. He justified his killing with a cloying
sentimentality about his family, his Christian faith, his fellow SEALs
and his nation. But sentimentality is not love. It is not empathy. It
is, at its core, about self-pity and self-adulation. That the film, like
the book, swings between cruelty and sentimentality is not accidental.
“Sentimentality, the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious
emotion, is the mark of dishonesty, the inability to feel,” James Baldwin
reminded us. “The wet eyes of the sentimentalist betray his aversion to
experience, his fear of life, his arid heart; and it is always,
therefore, the signal of secret and violent inhumanity, the mask of
“Savage, despicable evil,” Kyle wrote of those he was killing from
rooftops and windows. “That’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a
lot of people, myself included, called the enemy ‘savages.’… I only
wish I had killed more.” At another point he writes: “I loved killing
bad guys. … I loved what I did. I still do … it was fun. I had the time
of my life being a SEAL.” He labels Iraqis “fanatics” and writes “they
hated us because we weren’t Muslims.” He claims “the fanatics we fought
valued nothing but their twisted interpretation of religion.”
“I never once fought for the Iraqis,” he wrote of our Iraqi allies. “I could give a flying fuck about them.”
He killed an Iraqi teenager he claimed was an insurgent. He watched
as the boy’s mother found his body, tore her clothes and wept. He was
He wrote: “If you loved them [the sons], you should have kept them
away from the war. You should have kept them from joining the
insurgency. You let them try and kill us—what did you think would happen
“People back home [in the U.S.], people who haven’t been in war, at
least not that war, sometimes don’t seem to understand how the troops in
Iraq acted,” he went on. “They’re surprised—shocked—to discover we
often joked about death, about things we saw.”
He was investigated by the Army for killing an unarmed civilian.
According to his memoir, Kyle, who viewed all Iraqis as the enemy, told
an Army colonel: “I don’t shoot people with Korans. I’d like to, but I
don’t.” The investigation went nowhere.
Kyle was given the nickname “Legend.” He got a tattoo of a Crusader
cross on his arm. “I wanted everyone to know I was a Christian. I had it
put in red, for blood. I hated the damn savages I’d been fighting,” he
wrote. “I always will.” Following a day of sniping, after killing
perhaps as many as six people, he would go back to his barracks to spent
his time smoking Cuban Romeo y Julieta No. 3 cigars and “playing video
games, watching porn and working out.” On leave, something omitted in
the movie, he was frequently arrested for drunken bar fights. He
dismissed politicians, hated the press and disdained superior officers,
exalting only the comradeship of warriors. His memoir glorifies white,
“Christian” supremacy and war. It is an angry tirade directed against
anyone who questions the military’s elite, professional killers.
“For some reason, a lot of people back home—not all people—didn’t
accept that we were at war,” he wrote. “They didn’t accept that war
means death, violent death, most times. A lot of people, not just
politicians, wanted to impose ridiculous fantasies on us, hold us to
some standard of behavior that no human being could maintain.”
The enemy sniper Mustafa, portrayed in the film as if he was a serial
killer, fatally wounds Kyle’s comrade Ryan “Biggles” Job. In the movie
Kyle returns to Iraq—his fourth tour—to extract revenge for Biggles’
death. This final tour, at least in the film, centered on the killing of
The Butcher and the enemy sniper, also a fictional character. As it
focuses on the dramatic duel between hero Kyle and villain Mustafa the
movie becomes ridiculously cartoonish.
Kyle gets Mustafa in his sights and pulls the trigger. The bullet is
shown leaving the rifle in slow motion. “Do it for Biggles,” someone
says. The enemy sniper’s head turns into a puff of blood.
“Biggles would be proud of you,” a soldier says. “You did it, man.”
His final tour over, Kyle leaves the Navy. As a civilian he struggles
with the demons of war and becomes, at least in the film, a model
father and husband and works with veterans who were maimed in Iraq and
Afghanistan. He trades his combat boots for cowboy boots.
The real-life Kyle, as the film was in production, was shot dead at a
shooting range near Dallas on Feb. 2, 2013, along with a friend, Chad
Littlefield. A former Marine, Eddie Ray Routh, who had been suffering
from PTSD and severe psychological episodes, allegedly killed the two
men and then stole Kyle’s pickup truck. Routh will go on trial next month
The film ends with scenes of Kyle’s funeral procession—thousands lined
the roads waving flags—and the memorial service at the Dallas Cowboys’
home stadium. It shows fellow SEALs pounding their tridents into the top
of his coffin, a custom for fallen comrades. Kyle was shot in the back
and the back of his head. Like so many people he dispatched, he never
saw his killer when the fatal shots were fired.
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. Brutal hazing, as Kyle noted in
his book, was an integral part of becoming a Navy SEAL. New SEALs would
be held down and choked by senior members of the platoon until they
passed out. The culture of war idealizes only the warrior. It belittles
those who do not exhibit the warrior’s “manly” virtues. It places a
premium on obedience and loyalty. It punishes those who engage in
independent thought and demands total conformity. It elevates cruelty
and killing to a virtue. This culture, once it infects wider society,
destroys all that makes the heights of human civilization and democracy
possible. The capacity for empathy, the cultivation of wisdom and
understanding, the tolerance and respect for difference and even love
are ruthlessly crushed. The innate barbarity that war and violence breed
is justified by a saccharine sentimentality about the nation, the flag
and a perverted Christianity that blesses its armed crusaders. This
sentimentality, as Baldwin wrote, masks a terrifying numbness. It
fosters an unchecked narcissism. Facts and historical truths, when they
do not fit into the mythic vision of the nation and the tribe, are
discarded. Dissent becomes treason. All opponents are godless and
subhuman. “American Sniper
” caters to a deep sickness rippling through
our society. It holds up the dangerous belief that we can recover our
equilibrium and our lost glory by embracing an American fascism.
For a review of the "half-truths, myths and outright lies that Hollywood didn’t see fit to clear up," see Chris Kyle: "I Only Wish I Had Killed More" on Reader Supported News.
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