The “American Sniper” movie and autobiography by Chris Kyle that spawned “the movie” are taking unrelenting twitter fire.
It’s an Iraqi dust storm obscuring what’s accurate about the sniper’s character and what he did in the war.
It also tears open the mortal wound inflicted on the nation’s psyche by a war that many believe never should have been.
Chris Kyle, a Texan who believed in our country, was at a loss to make something out of his life as a private citizen.
Chris joined the military to find his home among the elite as a Navy SEAL, finding purpose and joy in combat, and becoming legend – as an historic sniper.
Chris put aside family, fear of risk to his life, suffered swimming that he hated, skirted sharks and sea lions, endured humiliating and abusive training exercises, and combat hardship, in ways few people on earth can imagine. Chris finished four tours in the mid East conflict in Iraq, coming home at the end in the fog of fear and anxiety, suffering what war inflicts on the best of warriors, indeed the shock of war that few escape.
The best indication who Kyle truly was is found in his “autobiography” that sounds in several different voices.
In person published interviews with Chris allow you to pick out what most resembles Chris’ own voice from among the “others” who helped him write his bio.
If I had not read the entire book, I would reduce Chris’ code as a warrior to the fun of killing savages, as stated in the first few pages. But what’s said afterwards is more nuanced.
Whatever the truth was, Chris’ code of war hardly resembled the code of the samurai warrior, stated in the Bushido Shoshinshu, at least not past the discipline, preparation and respect for command and country.
Chris worked hard to “reach the inner secrets” of war, but he failed the code in another way, never returning to his “original simplicity” at peace.
Chris said,“[T]hose who came before me were looking after me, offering some protection.”
Ironically, having fought to protect other soldiers in combat, it was one of his own, another returning and suffering vet he was helping, who killed Chris in his homeland, shot in the back.
Chris confessed his own fallibility, uncertainty, and fear, never claiming for himself the sobriquet, hero.
The media that purports to be “Chris,” however, is compromised by omissions and exaggerations.
Kyle did not kill the Olympic sniper from Islam – as represented in the movie.
Nor was Kyle’s first sniper kill a boy.
The movie hid flaws that made Chris human.
In his bio, Chris exaggerated that he had a bar fight with the older Jesse Ventura, punching him out for allegedly dissing the SEALs. Ventura won a $1.8 million jury award for Chris’ libel.
The movie denied Chris’ humanity, making him a myth.
Perhaps our military establishment “cooperated” in making this film, with ordnance and heavy equipment, hoping to smooth the roiling waters of dissent against further misadventures in that warring swamp, Iraq.
As for the protest against the Iraq war, Chris wrote, “I do not choose the wars. It happens that I love to fight. They do not choose which battles I go to. Y’all send me to them.”
Neither the movie nor the book are reliable sources for what Chris really believed beyond that.
But Chris did all that he was asked to do and, if there’s a complaint, he’s not the one who pointed the spear at Iraq.