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American liar?

Chris Kyle was a Navy SEAL and sniper who boasted about having "150 confirmed kills." "Kills" are confirmed by another witness, such as a spotter, not by any investigation. Still, Kyle had such an outsized legend---his nickname among service members was, in fact, "Legend" one wonders if anybody dares raise a doubt or two.

Oh. Wait. A fairly nuanced look at the tolls of war here gets comments like this, by "Tom" a guy with "I stand with the police of Ferguson" memes on his facebook: Sorry Anne...nice try. You see, many of us know that the elements that you cite as missing from the movie is the bullshit of going to war. The politics and politicians, the hand wringing of cowards who do not have the guts to fight, the teeth gnashing of liberals who never support military action and those who posit that everyone who fights must suffer mentally when they come home. American Sniper captures what is truly only important. There are people like Chris Kyle who still believe America is worth fighting for on principle, despite the day to day bullshit that is life. Those of us that thank, support and love guys like Chris Kyle have no issue with them killing any man, woman or child that either willingly or unwillingly raises their hand to harm American soldiers. Individuals like Chris Kyle truly understand they might go home in a box and willingly accept that regardless of the fictions the liberal media always wants to create around this issue. Lastly, no one gives a shit as to whether you cried upon watching this movie or not.

PTSD, you see, is a liberal plot. That's funny. None of the true-blue, Murrican heroes who've called me crazy, nuts, bitchy, what have you---all with the clever sniggers of men who think they've employed such subtle dogwhistles that nobody will have a clue have been liberal. (I have to take this back a bit after the 2016 election and the advent of bitter,
hateful, lying Bernie boys who lost women, POC, LGBTQ, immigrants, & Muslims TWO seats on the SCOTUS because they eagerly embraced thirty years of rightwing lies about Hillary. Nothing sums up Bernie's lies better than the crime bill attack, where HE voted for it but Hillary got attacked for it. Bernie and his Bros are excellent examples of the way sexism, racism, et. al., benefit even men and white people who don't actively exhibit it. Or think they don't.) Anyhoo....

Just mostly red blooded, gun-totin', Sarah Palin-voting Murricans, who don't see liberals or women as real soldiers. Rush Limbaugh once said that female soldiers aren't "real" soldiers. The lip service gets awfully thin when you dare to question the narrative that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden, (a man who despised him and might have considered him a potential target), that there were WMDs (maybe nukes!) scattered like annoying garden gnomes all around Iraq, and that all Mooslims are terrorists.

Kyle got caught telling at least three huge lies, and they're not the type of lies that true storytellers use, where the object of the lie is to make one's self the butt of the joke. You have to be fairly confident to take the piss out of yourself like that. (My beloved CO, for example, regularly made fun of his own foibles, even though the guy did at least 300 patrols during the very beginnings of the insurgency.) After Kyle's supposed "one hundred and fifty" confirmed kills, you have to wonder why Kyle had such a need to build himself up. Ypu know what you did. Maybe Kyle was having trouble keeping track of his stories. Or maybe there was another motive?

Kyle told a story----in his book------about how he fought with a guy at a SEAL bar following a funeral for a SEAL killed in the line. That guy criticized the war (something that drives conservatives bananas, who cannot see the difference between critique and destruction, but more on that later) and then capped it off by saying, "They (meaning the SEALS) deserve to lose a few." Kyle wrote that he punched the guy and gave him a black eye. "Tables went flying."

The "guy" was Jesse Ventura, past and unlamented governor of my state, as well as former Schwarzenegger buddy, supposed SEAL, 9/11 Truther, and the guy who criticized Paul Wellstone's funeral for "politics." He's not what I'd call an easy guy to like, but I'd suspect the urge to smack him must be nigh-irresistible at times.

But you know what? I cannot picture him saying----after a funeral, no less, for a fellow SEAL----that "They deserve to lose a few."

Still, this didn't have to come to a lawsuit. Ventura's name isn't mentioned in the book; Kyle did the damage himself when he identified Ventura on Faux News and before other conservative ears, eager to listen and believe the worst. (And isn't it interesting that these God-bothering rightwingers see evil everywhere, while someone like Fred Rogers understood that good people were all around us, hiding in plain sight?)

I don't have to picture Ventura saying this kind of crap. He didn't. While a few of Kyle's friends told conflicting stories in an attempt to shore Kyle up, his deposition was rather uncomfortable looking----and Ventura had no black eye in the days later. Kyle's estate---by the time the trial rolled around, Kyle was dead, having been shot by a veteran with PTSD that he was trying to help, at a gun range in Texas. Conservatives have uniformedly condemned the lawsuit with their usual brand of outright lies and/or sloppy or non-existent research. When Ventura filed suit, Kyle was alive, and the estate's lawyers were paid for by the publisher, as will be part of the settlement, if it stands up under appeal. The book has made more than $6 million dollars, which Kyle's widow stated in July of last year that he intended to donate to helping veterans. So far, the estate has not done so, as far as I can tell, though the supposed intention has been mentioned (again only by conservative sources) as if it were fact. (How...Trumpian.)

Kyle told two other big stories that were designed to appeal to conservative sensibilities. In fact, he might be the conservative poster child that the right wing has long sought and failed to find: Jessica Lynch turned out to have been credited with the deeds of a fallen male soldier, while heroic Iraqis rescued her twice; once to get her out of the wreck and to a hospital and then to get word of her location to Americans, at some risk to themselves. Lynch herself insisted on cheerfully telling the truth about the incident as soon as she could, refusing to be made into something she was not. Besides, she was a girl, so she couldn't be a real soldier, and the fact that her weapon jammed in a sandstorm had to be due to her vagina and not to the thirty hours of driving in blustery desert conditions without sleep. Pat Tillman could only be a hero to the right wing if you erased his politics, his death, and his hair from the picture: he was a long-haired progressive in football, and he was killed by friendly fire. The right seems to not get that heroism isn't freedom from fear, but doing the job in spite of it.

Regular liars fear exposure; Kyle's lies are something else. He wanted people to believe that he called Iraqis "savages" and killed without compunction, just as he wanted people to believe that he shot and killed two would-be carjackers in Texas, and that he went to New Orleans during Katrina, took up a firing position on the roof of the Superdome (!) in a hurricane, and either killed thirty or so "looters" himself, or with a buddy split the bill, so to speak.

Those are interesting, revealing lies. He felt that they made him look good. Think about what that means. Do you suppose the looters were white? NOLA is a majority black city. Or the carjackers? This is a guy, after all, who tattooed a Crusader cross on his arm and called himself a Christian. Once that particular "Christian with a capital C" gambit gets deployed, I know I'm not going to hear about "feeding the hungry, judging not lest ye be judged, let him who is without sin cast the first stone, sheltering the homeless," and other inconvenient trifles. "Kill them all, let Gawd sort them out," is the sort of "Christianity" practiced by the loud "Christians", who need to protest because otherwise their behavior might confuse you.

Another thing conservatives hate is nuance. It's literally us versus them, black versus white, (all too literal in places where the cops are all white and the people are all black), and changing your mind upon finding new information is regarded as a sign of weakness rather than strength. It doesn't matter if birth control pills don't actually, realistically cause abortions; belief, or the lies you like, is the important thing, not something pesky like the actual scientific truth. Kyle spoke to people who wanted to believe that you could still get away with some good old Murrican justice over various shades of brown-skinned people. That's the myth he's selling, or was selling, rather, along with notions that liberals are effete ladymen who never fight, and so on. It's for people who find making up their minds too complicated and stressful.

De humanizing the enemy is an old strategy in war, and while it might make it possible for you to kill like it's a video game the potential risks are huge. It turns out that it's like a curse bouncing back on you; to dehumanize the enemy is to dehumanize one's self. The salve it might seem to offer the soul is illusory. One wonders when Rush Limbaugh is going to get bit by this. Some people don't have a conscience. I think I'd be more comfortable if an insurgent had full control of my fate rather than a conservative guy, say, who was told he could do anything and get away with it. The absence of bullshit and self-serving denials would be positively refreshing. At least one would know.

Dehumanizing an actual enemy doesn't seem to be limited in war, though. A common tactic for conservatives is to call people who have different opinions weak, traitorous, and so on. Kyle himself claimed he was called a baby killer by protesters in San Diego, which doesn't sound like it makes a lot of sense, as it's a huge Navy town and such a protest would be widely reported. (Though I myself have been called a baby killer, it's always been online and by the sort of people allegedly on my side of the aisle who have never had to pay a utility bill themselves and who have a hard time grasping that sometimes starving people aren't doing it to stay thin.)

Here's a delightful screed that's an absolute classic, complete with either/or imagery and an invitation to seek better conditions elsewhere. This is pretty typical for a Kyle defender. Make of this waht you will:

he tragedy in all of this, is progressives like Ms. Peterson, who hate America for everything it is and stands for, did not see the usual liberal catnip Hollywood tends to serve up in contemporary war movies. There is a reason why all the war movies she cites did poorly at the box office: they were ideologically driven (progressively) and BAD. The Hurt Locker showed Soldiers doing things in Iraq that would never be allowed in combat. American Sniper, showcases the extraordinary service, honor, patriotism and dedication to duty of not only Chris Kyle, but all of our fighting men and women. Eastwood expertly shows the ugliness that us seen in war and the supremely high price less then 1% of us pay to keep America free. Our Soldiers strategically don't get to pick where, when and the purpose for why they have to fight. Our enemies do. Our Soldiers are not perfect "supermen", but flawed men and women who have learned to rise above their many flaws to become apart of something bigger than themselves to serve the purpose of freedom. I am sure these concepts will be lost on Ms. Peterson, because she has never walked even a step in the combat boots of our warriors. I have waked for 27 years in those combat boots as an infantryman and 2 tours in eastern Afghanistan. Chris Kyle, though flawed, was one of the very best our nation has to offer and his life and incredible service and sacrifice should rightfully be honored. We need more patriots like him, lest America fade quietly into the night into the dustbin of history. One final thought for progressives: if you hate America so much and think we're such a terrible nation, go try to live in a country like Iraq or Afghanistan. Sheep like you will last about 20 Minutes over there. We're without a doubt, though not perfect, the greatest nation on earth. From the buzzfeed story linked above.

You only criticize your country if you hate it. Right. Or is it that hating it means you criticize it? Dehumanizing the enemy doesn't seem too far off from that, if allegiance requires that no flaw or fault be acknowledged. No wonder they find it so easy to see the enemy as less than human. It's all wholes here, no degrees.

The opposite course in war----viewing one's enemy as humans----leads to things like the like the Christmas Truce, when the world's leaders threw a war and peace almost broke out among the troops. If it had been left with the soldiers, I'm pretty sure that a few days of drinking and soccer, some good-natured fistfights and arguments would have ended the conflict. Ordinary people are like that. The ones who aspire to stand above the rest of us, well, those are dangerous no matter whose side they're on.

My dad fought in the South Pacific for three years. He could have probably reduced both Kyle and Ventura to silly putty with a few well-placed tales of the conditions under which he fought, which included fighting without a flak vest and eating C-rations. Though he was inclined in later years to slip and refer to "Japs", he also spoke with awe of the Japanese pilots at Pearl Harbor, at Midway, and would get suspiciously red-faced and prone to attacks of handkerchief-billowing nose honking when talking about the heroics of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, a unit that wasn't so much recruited out of Japanese-American internment camps as it was forced out of them by sheer patriotic force of will. The 442nd distinguished themselves by fighting so fiercely that at various points in the war, they had a casualty rate of 90%, and they earned the highest proportion of Silver and Bronze Stars of any unit.

Many of those were awarded posthumously.

Dad wanted absolution for the war and only found it when he got a chance to talk to other vets, including some of the very men he fought.

Chris Kyle wanted people to believe that he called people of color "savages" and that he continued to kill them freely upon returning home. He wanted the American public to believe that his enemies called him the Devil of Fallujah and that they wanted more SEALs to die, and had no compunction about saying this to a group of SEALs following a funeral for one of their own. The most astonishing thing about this is that when one of these guys tells a lie, he thinks he's talking about people he hates.

He's telling you who he is. One has to wonder why people are denying this.

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
ad_kay
Jan. 21st, 2015 03:59 am (UTC)
One of your most powerful essays. I won't see "American Sniper."
amethyst_hunter
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:15 am (UTC)
I have no desire to see it either. For one, it's not the kind of movie I would watch at all (I hate war movies, especially modern war ones). But yeah, not giving any money to the propaganda machine if I can help it.
shakatany
Jan. 21st, 2015 04:03 am (UTC)
His estate and his publisher are in trouble due to his lying - http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2015/01/american_sniper_lawsuit_chris_kyle_told_lies_about_jesse_ventura.html

I wasn't planning on seeing the movie as it's not the type of movie I want to waste time and money on.

Shakatany
enname
Jan. 21st, 2015 06:22 am (UTC)
Gorgeous essay, lots of food for thought as always and I have spent the last day or so doing just that. Well, I also had missed that they made a film about him until yesterday when I was reading someone else writing about why they were so disgusted about the film (they had seen it) and I sort of froze for a whole ten seconds in disbelief. I mean, wtf Clint Eastwood? Just wtf in general.

His death was something I paid a little attention to with the exception of the shooter and the PTSD. In general he is all I abhor and I completely missed the book. That is interesting about the lying though and I might have to do some more reading. I just... gah. This repeated narrative of us versus them as if anything about war we ever learned had been dropped off the side of a cliff.

Huh. Tattoo of a crusader's cross - I am teaching Crusading history again and gathering modern references to the Crusades which are so thick I need a giant stick to get them to lie down. May also have just got myself flagged by ASIO for googling jihadi magazines for Crusade rhetoric.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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