This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, reporter Ayman Mohyeldin was on the panel to discuss the runaway success of the film American Sniper.
“If you don’t know anything about Chris Kyle… if you don’t know this is a true story, this is a great movie,” said Mohyeldin.
After detailing some of the elements that made the movie a success, Mohyeldin took the opportunity to offer some criticisms of Kyle’s depiction, claiming that it was inaccurate. According to Mohyeldin, Kyle wasn’t such a great guy. Citing some hearsay and some wording in Kyle’s book, Mohyeldin described Kyle as a man with “racist tendencies” toward Iraqis and Muslims, and said Kyle went on “killing sprees in Iraq on assignment.”
Mohyeldin’s choice of words raised the eyebrow of co-host Joe Scarborough.
“Killing sprees?” Scarborough asked. “Chris Kyle was going on killing sprees?”
Mohyeldin continued. “When he was involved in his — on assignments in terms of what he was doing, a lot of the description that has come out from his book and some of the terminology that he has used, people have described as racist in his personal attitudes about what he was doing overseas, when he was on assignment.”
Ayman Mohyeldin is certainly entitled to his opinion, even if it’s about a man who is no longer around to defend himself. For that matter, Michael Moore is entitled to his opinion that snipers are cowards, Bill Maher is entitled to his opinion that Chris Kyle was a psychopath, and Howard Dean is entitled to his opinion that the people who have gone to see the film American Sniper are “very angry.”
In a piece for The Guardian, Lindy West took her opinionated rhetoric quite a bit further.
“The real American Sniper was a hate-filled killer,” West writes. “Why are simplistic patriots treating him as a hero?”
She adds, “In his memoir, Kyle reportedly described killing as ‘fun’, something he ‘loved’; he was unwavering in his belief that everyone he shot was a ‘bad guy’. ‘I hate the damn savages,’ he wrote. ‘I couldn’t give a flying f*ck about the Iraqis’.”
You’ve got to love West’s use of the word “reportedly” when relaying what was written in Kyle’s book. It means: “I didn’t actually read it myself, and I’m not going to, because the proper context might ruin the self-righteous narrative I’m trying to put forth.”
What I found more interesting is how apparently appalled West is over the notion that, in the theater of war, a U.S. soldier wouldn’t feel morally conflicted every time he sets his sights on an enemy combatant, or better yet doesn’t sufficiently sympathize with those trying to kill his military brothers. West seems to despise what made Kyle good at his job, regardless of how important that job was in keeping our troops alive, and getting them back to their families.
The anti-war crowd says a lot of irritating things; that’s certainly nothing new. What the success of American Sniper has revealed, however, is not just the animosity such people hold toward our country’s involvement in wars, but also the animosity they hold toward those brave, committed soldiers who fight for us.
I wrote what ended up being a pretty popular piece for this website about Chris Kyle, just days after his death two years ago. In it, I praised Kyle’s integrity and his commitment to the well-being of his fellow soldiers both on and off the battlefield.
I was absolutely stunned by the number of hostile comments I received in response.
- Several people compared Kyle to a Nazi.
- Another one wrote, “Soldiers who willingly signed up to go kill might as well call themselves atheists or satanists.”
- And then there was this charming one: “160 confirmed kills. I would call him a mass murderer. You f*ckers call him a hero.”
Keep in mind that these comments were made just days after Kyle had been murdered. What a classy bunch.
Such people hate – and I mean hate – the very notion of everyday Americans viewing the proud members of our military as heroes. It’s not just the war policies they despise – it’s the warriors themselves. And when we honor those warriors, it drives them to the level of absolute derangement.
When people like Ayman Mohyeldin use the term “killing sprees” to describe the missions we send our soldiers on, or when they diminish the character or service of a member of our military because that person’s views or language doesn’t pass a political-correctness test, they’re presenting themselves as sharing the same ideology as the Internet trolls.
What they don’t understand (or perhaps choose not to understand) is that those of us who admire Chris Kyle don’t do so because we think he was perfect. We do so because he served our country with honor and distinction, and saved the lives of countless Americans and American allies. We also admire how he fought through his PTSD demons and helped others fight through theirs. As best I can tell, he did more for his country than any of his critics.
These days, few would disagree that the brave veterans who fought for America in World War 2 made up our nation’s Greatest Generation. We recognize their bravery, honor them for their service, and commemorate them in our culture through books, cinema, and memorials. We look at an individual like the recently deceased Louis Zamperini – who also just had a movie made about his life – and we almost unanimously recognize a person who is unquestionably worthy of our endless gratitude and admiration.
Just imagine if we tried to hold those veterans to the same level of politically correct, personality-parsing scrutiny that some are now using to degrade the life, service, and remembrance of Chris Kyle. Is that a nation we could be proud of?