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Chris Kyle: Man or Myth?

wrichcirw
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1/20/2015 5:23:13 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
** Warning - this thread is going to contain spoilers for the book and movie American Sniper **

The trailer for the movie version of American sniper (https://www.youtube.com...) gives a taste of what the movie is about - moral ambiguity, difficult situations, stress in straightforward circumstances. Clint Eastwood is known for being anti-war yet pro-military, and IMHO this movie effectively demonstrates that position better than most. The movie had a superb MLK weekend opening.

The book, according to several articles (http://www.theguardian.com..., http://www.newrepublic.com...), paints a rather stark black-and-white portrayal of a man whose moral fiber would be questionable to most people.

I haven't read the book...I'd find it surprising if these articles adequately characterized the man, especially after watching the movie. Can anyone substantiate/clarify this conflict of portrayal?
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Fido
Posts: 357
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1/21/2015 12:10:40 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I have seen a few of this guys words excerpted from his book. I know he killed a lot of people, and he demeaned them as well, but he also objectified these enemies, and so justified killing them because to them they were not some one, but some thing. I would suspect anyone who could kill on so slight a pretext. It is one thing to have to take a human life, but death is the enemy of us all, and to celebrate the taking of life is obscene. If I were in that situation I know I would want just such a stone hearted killer on my six, but since our prisons hold many such examples of humanity, I would always have suspicion of him in society.

Consider that many Native American societies demanded of their warrior with the blood of their enemies on their hands, that they go through a purification ceremony. It was the crime of Agamemnon, returning home from war, that he walked unwashed into the temple of the gods. He was doomed, and his wife did a worse deed still by shedding his blood in the temple. The guy made himself small by making his enemy small. Where is the honor in killing a fly, or as he had it: Savages? If he faced the fact that these were brave people as willing to die as to kill he would have given himself more credit.
wrichcirw
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1/21/2015 3:12:42 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/21/2015 12:10:40 AM, Fido wrote:
If he faced the fact that these were brave people as willing to die as to kill he would have given himself more credit.

Agree, a very powerful assertion.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Wylted
Posts: 21,167
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1/23/2015 8:03:18 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
He's full of crap. He makes absurd claims as to running into Jesse Ventura and beating him up and going to Louisiana to sit on top of the superDome and snipe looters. The guy is a bullsh1t artist.
wrichcirw
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1/23/2015 1:36:05 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/23/2015 8:03:18 AM, Wylted wrote:
He's full of crap. He makes absurd claims as to running into Jesse Ventura and beating him up and going to Louisiana to sit on top of the superDome and snipe looters. The guy is a bullsh1t artist.

The Ventura thing is a white lie that wouldn't have mattered to anyone had Kyle not become famous and started raking in money. Ventura smells green, and so the lawsuits commence.

The Superdome thing is here-say...he's not on record ever saying it.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,280
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1/24/2015 9:32:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I think it's reflective of the rather disgusting outlook on war endemic in today's youth, especially non-combatants. Kyle simply managed to maintain that revolting outlook in the face of horror that would have sobered a better man. Solemnity is in such short supply; where are the Erich Maria Remarques, the Hemingways, the Saint-Exuperys of this war? There is no Wilfred Owen to shatter delusions at home, no Dos Passos to lend his pen to the service of freedom. Soldiers are largely ignored by so many. And then, when we look for one to exalt, we scrub this man up, and give him to Clint Eastwood, to fill his mouth with a more noble, contemplative vision of war echoed from our past. I just find the whole affair disgraceful, and I find the fact that some people find his dehumanizing of the enemy to be in any way acceptable or honourable appalling. It makes me think that there are surely better men out there, but that the culture in general is so morally bereft that a better man wouldn't have been able to command admiration. We have come to lionize the dross of our war machine, and to ignore those men who have been ennobled instead of brutalized. Sickening.

"A man cannot realize that above such shattered bodies there are still human faces in which life goes its daily round. And this is only one hospital, a single station; there are hundreds of thousands in Germany, hundreds of thousands in France, hundreds of thousands in Russia. How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is."
- Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front -
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
FaustianJustice
Posts: 6,205
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1/25/2015 12:27:52 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
The man was trained, and had a particular talent for war. He did everything his country asked of him.

Without knowing the book or movie (but general human responses), what exactly was he to do? He had to find a way to rationalize to himself what he did, they were savages, they were barbarians, he did it for the greater good, so that others might live, blah blah, but some how he would have to see HIS face in the mirror, sans cross hairs, and tell himself he was a good human being, deserving of NOT being in cross hairs. Its a tall order, trying to convince yourself of your worth. The bravado that goes along with might not really have been for OUR benefit, same with the books, etc.

We make weapons to be able to remove our self from immediate harm of action. Saying that some one is cowardly for making use of the technology in which to complete their role as a soldier hardly strikes me as morally questionable, if indeed the person whom is having the proverbial trigger pulled on them seeks to us, our troops, or allies harm through violence. Its an imperfect solution brought about through imperfect circumstance with a finality that takes a toll on those executing it. The only real moral complications I have would be his deployment, in general, in the various theaters: did we have good and reasonable cause to be there, and for what ends. That is not something I can realistically lay at his feet, though.
Here we have an advocate for Islamic arranged marriages demonstrating that children can consent to sex.
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wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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1/25/2015 1:15:31 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/24/2015 9:32:52 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
I think it's reflective of the rather disgusting outlook on war endemic in today's youth, especially non-combatants. Kyle simply managed to maintain that revolting outlook in the face of horror that would have sobered a better man. Solemnity is in such short supply; where are the Erich Maria Remarques, the Hemingways, the Saint-Exuperys of this war? There is no Wilfred Owen to shatter delusions at home, no Dos Passos to lend his pen to the service of freedom. Soldiers are largely ignored by so many. And then, when we look for one to exalt, we scrub this man up, and give him to Clint Eastwood, to fill his mouth with a more noble, contemplative vision of war echoed from our past.

To be fair, this is essentially what people like Hemingway and Remarques did as well - there's every reason to think their versions of the war are sanitized as well. You may say that an 80 year old director was not actually in the war, but that he kept this same contemplative spirit alive should be laudable.

I just find the whole affair disgraceful, and I find the fact that some people find his dehumanizing of the enemy to be in any way acceptable or honourable appalling. It makes me think that there are surely better men out there, but that the culture in general is so morally bereft that a better man wouldn't have been able to command admiration. We have come to lionize the dross of our war machine, and to ignore those men who have been ennobled instead of brutalized. Sickening.

This is hard to disagree with.

"A man cannot realize that above such shattered bodies there are still human faces in which life goes its daily round. And this is only one hospital, a single station; there are hundreds of thousands in Germany, hundreds of thousands in France, hundreds of thousands in Russia. How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is."
- Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front -
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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1/25/2015 1:17:58 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/25/2015 12:27:52 AM, FaustianJustice wrote:
The man was trained, and had a particular talent for war. He did everything his country asked of him. [...] The only real moral complications I have would be his deployment, in general, in the various theaters: did we have good and reasonable cause to be there, and for what ends. That is not something I can realistically lay at his feet, though.

Agree.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,280
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1/25/2015 1:19:48 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/25/2015 1:15:31 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 1/24/2015 9:32:52 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
I think it's reflective of the rather disgusting outlook on war endemic in today's youth, especially non-combatants. Kyle simply managed to maintain that revolting outlook in the face of horror that would have sobered a better man. Solemnity is in such short supply; where are the Erich Maria Remarques, the Hemingways, the Saint-Exuperys of this war? There is no Wilfred Owen to shatter delusions at home, no Dos Passos to lend his pen to the service of freedom. Soldiers are largely ignored by so many. And then, when we look for one to exalt, we scrub this man up, and give him to Clint Eastwood, to fill his mouth with a more noble, contemplative vision of war echoed from our past.

To be fair, this is essentially what people like Hemingway and Remarques did as well - there's every reason to think their versions of the war are sanitized as well. You may say that an 80 year old director was not actually in the war, but that he kept this same contemplative spirit alive should be laudable.

I'm not criticizing Eastwood; I'm actually refreshed by his outlook. I'm just upset that we need to rely on his generation to continue this tradition instead of cultivating it in the next.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
wrichcirw
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1/25/2015 1:21:08 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/25/2015 1:19:48 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 1/25/2015 1:15:31 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 1/24/2015 9:32:52 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
I think it's reflective of the rather disgusting outlook on war endemic in today's youth, especially non-combatants. Kyle simply managed to maintain that revolting outlook in the face of horror that would have sobered a better man. Solemnity is in such short supply; where are the Erich Maria Remarques, the Hemingways, the Saint-Exuperys of this war? There is no Wilfred Owen to shatter delusions at home, no Dos Passos to lend his pen to the service of freedom. Soldiers are largely ignored by so many. And then, when we look for one to exalt, we scrub this man up, and give him to Clint Eastwood, to fill his mouth with a more noble, contemplative vision of war echoed from our past.

To be fair, this is essentially what people like Hemingway and Remarques did as well - there's every reason to think their versions of the war are sanitized as well. You may say that an 80 year old director was not actually in the war, but that he kept this same contemplative spirit alive should be laudable.

I'm not criticizing Eastwood; I'm actually refreshed by his outlook. I'm just upset that we need to rely on his generation to continue this tradition instead of cultivating it in the next.

I am optimistic on this front. Regardless, I agree with your outlook.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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1/25/2015 2:04:04 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
One more thing I will cite however is that our generation's experience with warfare is markedly different from what occurred in the trenches of WWI. Our casualty rates are exceedingly low. The asymmetry of power is extremely pronounced. When circumstances do not suggest that we have sacrificed a lot of blood, then you won't get a lot of people contemplating the sacrifice of war.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,924
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1/25/2015 10:25:45 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/25/2015 2:04:04 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
One more thing I will cite however is that our generation's experience with warfare is markedly different from what occurred in the trenches of WWI. Our casualty rates are exceedingly low. The asymmetry of power is extremely pronounced. When circumstances do not suggest that we have sacrificed a lot of blood, then you won't get a lot of people contemplating the sacrifice of war.

Keyword: "our" casualties.

Tell that to the Iraqi's that "their" casualties are "extremely low".
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
wrichcirw
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1/25/2015 10:30:36 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/25/2015 10:25:45 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 1/25/2015 2:04:04 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
One more thing I will cite however is that our generation's experience with warfare is markedly different from what occurred in the trenches of WWI. Our casualty rates are exceedingly low. The asymmetry of power is extremely pronounced. When circumstances do not suggest that we have sacrificed a lot of blood, then you won't get a lot of people contemplating the sacrifice of war.

Keyword: "our" casualties.

Tell that to the Iraqi's that "their" casualties are "extremely low".

Soldiers can only tell their own perspectives. "All Quiet on the Western Front" did not deal with the enemy's perspective.

Most of the time, the enemy is unknown...this is how war is. If we knew more about the enemy, more than likely they wouldn't be the enemy.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,280
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1/26/2015 12:25:10 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/25/2015 2:04:04 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
One more thing I will cite however is that our generation's experience with warfare is markedly different from what occurred in the trenches of WWI. Our casualty rates are exceedingly low. The asymmetry of power is extremely pronounced. When circumstances do not suggest that we have sacrificed a lot of blood, then you won't get a lot of people contemplating the sacrifice of war.

I think it has more to do with Islamophobia in the West and a vast cultural disconnect. It's much easier to 'other' someone from a culture which is so alien to your own. Islamic culture is an intricate, beautiful, and unique one, but it is alien to a Western conception of the world. Whereas Europe is the cradle of our own cultural heritage, and it was likely easier to feel a sense of kinship with an enemy who was so similar to us in so many ways.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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1/26/2015 2:39:34 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/26/2015 12:25:10 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 1/25/2015 2:04:04 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
One more thing I will cite however is that our generation's experience with warfare is markedly different from what occurred in the trenches of WWI. Our casualty rates are exceedingly low. The asymmetry of power is extremely pronounced. When circumstances do not suggest that we have sacrificed a lot of blood, then you won't get a lot of people contemplating the sacrifice of war.

I think it has more to do with Islamophobia in the West and a vast cultural disconnect. It's much easier to 'other' someone from a culture which is so alien to your own. Islamic culture is an intricate, beautiful, and unique one, but it is alien to a Western conception of the world. Whereas Europe is the cradle of our own cultural heritage, and it was likely easier to feel a sense of kinship with an enemy who was so similar to us in so many ways.

Yeah, there are a lot of compelling reasons to consider this as the primary reason. Still, IMHO it doesn't hold when you look at America's other wars post-WWII...we understand east Asian culture even less than we do the Middle East, but here we are trading with them and watching them develop militarily. We have strong, very strong feelings of apprehension when it comes to warring in that part of the world...the main reason is that we suffered rather heavily and did not "win". We can't point to a single, clear-cut "victory" there, except for our victory over Japan in WWII.

Regarding our sentiments of the Middle East, we've experienced a sea change from last year and are looking to go back in (http://www.washingtonpost.com...). In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a 3rd Iraq war. I can only hope we get it right next time, although I'm not optimistic. The second Gulf War is very quickly becoming our second "forgotten war" (the Korean war being the first) and the next one will probably look like Vietnam, with us having even less of an idea WTF we are doing there.

It could very well be that you see far more of Remarque's kind of introspection relevant to America's involvement in the Middle East if we go in a third time with as clueless a mindset that caused us to go in in 2003. This time, the enemy will be fully prepared to make us pay.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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1/26/2015 2:54:43 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 1/26/2015 12:25:10 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 1/25/2015 2:04:04 AM, wrichcirw wrote:

Just to drive this idea of vulnerability leading to introspection, you've seen the movie, yes? The scene where Kyle is in tears while talking to his wife on the phone was heavily marketed and is generally speaking what most people will point to when we analyze the movie as being "reflective".

The thing is...why was he crying? Was it because of the women and children he shot? No...it was because he had a near-death experience where he dropped and abandoned his rifle and his Bible...that was the first time in the movie where Kyle was truly faced with his own mortality, and he essentially sh!t in his pants. If not for that, would Kyle have been ready to come home? Probably not.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?