The film “American Sniper” is stirring up controversy. Michael Moore and Seth Rogan have dissed it and gotten a lot of nasty, hate-filled Tweets and emails for their opinions. I haven’t seen it and probably won’t, but it sounds like one more in a long, long line of propaganda efforts from Hollywood designed to romanticize and sanitize America’s military actions.
What exactly makes Navy Seal Chris Kyle a hero worthy of our respect? If it’s his body count, why aren’t the pilots and crew members of military bombers who dropped explosives on Iraq and killed tens of thousands of people, given ticker tape parades and huge medals? And what kind of a guy is Kyle? People have pulled excerpts from the book on which the film is based, and the unfiltered bigotry and lack of compassion for human life paint a less than heroic portrait of the real American sniper.
On this Martin Luther King Day, it’s a good time to ask when we as a country will stop glorifying individuals who commit violence in our name and start celebrating the peacemakers? Creating a day of remembrance for King was a good start, but I’ve never had a job where my company recognized the day as a holiday, yet everyone gets Memorial Day off.
Our priorities as a country are badly skewed, but because we are Americans, we don’t feel any need to look in the mirror and assess our weaknesses. Films like “American Sniper” play to our darkest desires to beat up anyone who acts, talks, thinks or looks different than us. That’s the attitude of a schoolyard bully, not a great democracy.