Wednesday, January 28, 2015
The specific “lies” I’m citing were taken from a crap sandwich on Alternet, but these 7 points have been repeatedly rehashed all over the Internet, so this article may as well respond to them too. Long story short, Chris Kyle is either a modern-day Pol Pot bent on mass murder, or he’s the blameless all-American hometown hero who jumped out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Regardless of what side of the fence people stand on, folks are going crazy over Clint Eastwood’s film American Sniper. This article doesn’t take sides; it merely seeks to set the record straight so the idiots continuing this debate can at least have a better-informed discussion.
1. “The Film Suggests the Iraq War Was In Response to 9/11.”
Technically, the Iraq War was a response to 9/11. It was a poorly conceived response, but the government’s official line was that 9/11 and Saddam Hussein were related. The correlation between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda grew increasingly thin until it was nil, but America’s leaders sure as hell pounded the public with 9/11 rhetoric to rally support for the 2003 invasion.
As far as the jump from the 9/11 segment to Tour 1 in Iraq, it was done for the speed of the movie. Being part of an elite counterterror force, Kyle knew the minute the second plane hit the towers that he was going to war eventually. But how would that drag out a fast paced movie? “Okay baby, America’s been attacked and we’re at war now. So the audience is going to watch me do months of field training in Germany first.” That type of ultra-logic doesn’t work well when summarizing 40 years of a man’s life into 2 hours, especially not right before Oscar season.
2. “The Film Invents a Terrorist Sniper Who Works For Multiple Opposing Factions.”
Yeah, that was cheesy. Transporting this character from Anbar province to West Baghdad is like expecting a Crip to operate in Blood territory; both gangs gun for the cops, but they sure as hell don’t work together.
While the “Mustafa” in the film was fictional, there really was a ridiculously lethal sniper in Fallujah and Ramadi, and HUMINT (human intelligence, for all you civilians) told that he was an Olympic marksman. More importantly, he was damn good at his job of killing American troops and Iraqi security forces. Let’s put into context how nasty things were in Fallujah and Ramadi: of the 4,489 American soldiers killed in Iraq, 1,135 died in Anbar province alone. The jihadists in Anbar did not screw around. RUMINT (rumor intelligence) reported that the sniper was killed in an airstrike in Ramadi.
3. “The Film Portrays Chris Kyle as Tormented By His Actions.”
Uh, no, it doesn’t. Anyone paying attention to key scenes and dialogue would figure out that the film actually shows Kyle as tormented by his failures. Kyle said in the movie, and over and over again in the book, that his biggest regrets were the men he wasn’t able to save. He wanted to kill more insurgents so they wouldn’t be able to continue killing Americans.
Take, for example, the scene where Kyle sits alone on the couch, having a flashback while staring at the blank TV screen. One does not here any screams or lamentations in Arabic…
4. “The Real Chris Kyle Made Up A Story About Killing Dozens of People In Post-Katrina New Orleans.”
I don’t know what issues Kyle was grappling with, but this was an uncool story for him to go around telling people. However, this story is told neither in the book nor in the movie. So what the hell does this have to do with the movie? Nada. Therefore, discussing this story in relation to the film American Sniper is… pretty dumb.
5. “The Real Chris Kyle Fabricated A Story About Killing Two Men Who Tried To Carjack Him In Texas”
Again, it’s a messed up story, but has nothing to do with the book or the movie.
6. “Chris Kyle Was Successfully Sued For Lying About the Former Governor of Minnesota.”
I wish the punching Jesse Ventura story was true. I used to like Ventura until I figured out he’s not libertarian, but rather an independent, unaligned town crier who’ll buy into any conspiracy theory that’ll get him a little publicity. Frankly, I’m convinced the dude was broke and needed the money.
But this little drama wasn’t in the movie, so why are we debating it in relation to the movie?
7. “Chris Kyle's Family Claimed He Donated His Book Proceeds To Veterans' Charity, But He Kept Most Of The Profits.”
Apparently Chris Kyle pocketed the $3 million he made from his own book about his own life, and only donated $52,000 to charity. But those $52,000 were Kyle’s proceeds and they were indeed donated to charity. Any questions? Good. Frankly, that’s $52,000 more than I’ve donated to charity this year. Furthermore, this little comment ignores all the personal expenses Kyle incurred in his one-on-one coaching and excursions with wounded warriors and psychologically disturbed veterans.
Taking a second look at the 7 most commonly cited “lies” allegedly perpetuated by the movie, only 3 of 7 have anything to do with the movie! That’s just embarrassing, and it’s more straw man arguing than any intellectual with a drop of integrity could possibly take seriously.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what side of the debate you’re on if you haven’t read Chris Kyle’s book. One reading of that book will add so much context to the movie, and also show how ridiculously ill-informed this entire debate has been. Ultimately, if you haven’t read cover-to-cover the autobiography American Sniper—told in detail, in his own words—then you don’t have an informed opinion of Chris Kyle.
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Mustafa screenshot courtesy of Olympic Rings and Other Things blog and is the property of. Book cover image courtesy of Washington Times and is the property of HarperCollins Publishers. Images used on this blog in accordance with Fair Use laws.