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American irony

June Martin asked me to write about the Clint Eastwood movie, “American Sniper.” As she constitutes about 20 percent of my readership, I’m happy to do so.

I have not seen the movie. Some contend a sniper is a coward, killing people far away. Others contend the sniper is a hero. Some, like this Dallas Morning News editorial, which appeared in the Star, strike a wholly irrelevant note, to wit:

We can go and see the story of Chris Kyle on film. We can read his book. We can watch interviews of him on the Internet. We can study facts about his claims. We can try to piece together what’s real and what isn’t.

We can never know Chris Kyle.

All those who want to know the real Chris Kyle (the American sniper) raise your hands.

I am struck by ironies. First, is the man with no name. This is early Eastwood, smoking a cheroot, serape-poncho draped over his shoulders,Unknown-1 a week’s stubble on his face, facing a very bad man, mano a mano. Bang, he’s dead, the spaghetti Western. The duel is done. Juxtapose this with the well-hidden hero who shoots from long distance, mano a telescopic sight.

Second, there is the war hero fighting a war started by men who chose not to fight for their country. Bush and Cheney found ways to avoid Southeast Asia. Cheney said he was too busy.

There’s also the sniper who fought to protect us from nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and to export democracy to a country that had no stomach for it or inclination to embrace it. Indeed, we did not export anything but sowed plenty of hate.

Fourth is the irony of a purposeless war fought to avenge an act of war perpetrated by mostly Saudis but directed at Iraq.

Fifth is the war that sought to protect our democracy succeeded in robbing Americans of what once were cherished rights and freedoms and employing torture techniques worthy only of totalitarian regimes.

The greatest irony is that the legacy of the Iraq war is coated so thickly in layers of patriotism that it obscures what the Bush-Cheney years did to this nation. The controversy over “American Sniper” shows that even today, more than 11 years after George W. Bush proclaimed “mission accomplished,” the Iraq war haunts the soldiers that fought as well as their families. And if you question the Iraq war, and you still risk being labeled a traitor; part of that irony is that Kyle did only what his country asked of him, but it was the asking that created the wrong.






  1. American Irony is flat out brilliant. One of your best pieces.

  2. Alan jaffe says:

    I think your American Sniper blog informative in its comparisons.

  3. I agree with what you say, very incisive comments. If only there had been more dissenters before the war.

  4. We seem to celebrate corrupt thinking and motives and actions in many areas, painting it moral snd honorable and by wrapping it in the American flag.

    BTW, why the picture of Finger Rock with an A- Mountain title? Are you misleading the public on purpose, and then planning to run for office?

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