How to Hunt Rabbits

The movie “American Sniper,” directed by Clint Eastwood and said to be the biggest blockbuster in the U.S. in 2014, tells the story of the life of Chris Kyle – a Texan with excellent marksmanship who was admitted to the U.S. Navy Seals in 1999 and sent to Iraq as a sniper. Kyle, who received his first weapon from his father at the age of eight, boasts in his memoirs about killing 255 Iraqis, 40 of them during one single day at the battle of Fallujah (Some cynics count the number of lovers and others of the deaths that they have caused with their own hands. For these rare collectors, that is their idea of manliness). For his feats, Kyle was awarded two silver and five bronze stars. He is so revered locally that the governor of Texas, Greg Abbot, decided, after his death in 2013, that Feb. 2 would be “Chris Kyle” day and that flags would fly at half-mast to honor his memory. It is also known that Kyle regretted not having killed more Iraqis, whom he called “damn savages.”

It might appear strange that a champion of death from a distance is considered a hero, but we start to understand when we remind ourselves of a few things. First, in Texas, people love firearms, and getting one is very easy: “If you are a qualified applicant, we’re going to make it as easy as possible for you to obtain your license,” said the Republican state representative Four Price in 2013. Second, Eastwood, the director of “American Sniper,” who presents the main character as a hero, is a man of conservative leanings who supports the Republican Party. Third, the great American public is imbued with chauvinism, which movies often irresponsibly feed into. That is how the military historian Martin Pegler explained the success of the film: “ … the country has a veritable weapon culture, which Americans tend to feel comfortable with.”*

Of course, many liberal-minded people raised their voices against what Kyle represents as a glorification of violence. Film director Michael Moore, for example, wrote on Twitter: “We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back.” The pathetic Sarah Palin responded to them, reminding the “Hollywood leftists” that “ … America knows you’re not fit to shine Chris Kyle’s combat boots.” His death was not, as it would be expected, in a war zone, but rather in Texas while target shooting “as therapy,” with two ex-combatants of the Iraq war. One of them, Eddie Ray Routh, with post-traumatic stress caused by the war, shot him six times. His sister had warned about him suffering from psychosis and paranoia. Kyle himself, noticing the man’s delusions, had sent a frightened text to his friend: “This guy is straight up nuts.” Nevertheless, the jury dismissed his mental illness and convicted Routh to life in prison in just three hours of deliberation, as it is easier to mercilessly squash a victim of the horrors of war than to dare tear down the patriotic myth that props it up.

*Editor’s note: Accurately translated, this quote could not be verified.

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