The idea of celebrating 160 notches on a sniper rifle made me uneasy, but I need not have worried. The film “American Sniper” takes pains to illustrate not only the wartime killings by Navy Seal Chris Kyle, but also the terrible effects of combat on its survivors, including Kyle.
I worried that the much-heralded film might be little more than a shoot-‘em-up. It is so much more than that.
Modern war movies pretty much let us know what happens when men (and women nowadays) try to kill each other on the battleground. We see plenty of blood, intestines, severed arms and legs, and brains tissue. But they often fall short of telling the story of how combat affects our own kids—and let’s keep in mind that they are mere youths, those soldiers, sailors, and Marines we send to war. Sometimes damage to the mind and soul can be as terrible as that to the body.
Telling the truth about how war brutalizes even the good guys is essential if we are to present the truth, and this movie does that. Like so many veterans, Chris Kyle came back from the war, but for a long time was still in Iraq, watching the windows and rooftops, keeping an eye on vehicles that might pose a threat.
The inescapable truth is that no one’s life is enhanced by the experience of killing other humans and having them attempt to kill you. But there is another irrefutable truth: bad people exist and we need soldiers and police officers to stop them, which may mean killing them. If you think the bad guys—whether common criminals or Islamic terrorists—are just misunderstood and only need love and understanding, you are a fool. Evil does exist and must be opposed. Sometimes that means war.
“American Sniper” has sparked a firestorm of debate, the loudest of which is dominated by geese like Michael Moore. Bill Maher wonders why we need a navy nowadays. (The Navy Seals got Bin Laden, Bill.) An NBC reporter tries to inject racism into the Chris Kyle story, speaking of Kyle’s “shooting spree” in Iraq. Former Democrat presidential hopeful Howard Dean goes on another one his rants.
The venom from the far left spews forth because of its hatred of guns and the military. No surprise there. Fortunately, most of the liberals I know have plenty of common sense. They know we are at war.
But the knee-jerk, anti-gun polemics that flamed up in reaction to “American Sniper” borders on the idiotic. Gun ownership, embedded as it is in our beloved Constitution, is not going away. And with truly evil people like ISIS urging home-grown-terrorists to strike here in America as they did in Paris, it’s hard to argue that potential victims should not have the means to defend themselves.
The police cannot be everywhere, not in Paris, not in America. And that’s where the people who like to cut off heads want to spray their hatred and bullets next. Here in America, that is. At the mall or church or school.
So, while I lament the loss of lives in any war and the damage to the minds and souls of our troops who survive, I recognize that wars must be fought. Not all wars are justified, of course, but certainly this one is. We are at war with radical Islamism, and probably will be for decades to come.