"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand."
from To Kill a Mockingbird
FURTHER DISPATCHES FROM THE CULTURE WAR:
"Savage, despicable evil. That's what we were fighting in Iraq. That's
why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy 'savages.' There
really was no other way to describe what we encountered there."
"Savage, despicable evil". It really is an interesting choice of words - and very possibly quite appropriate. But we need to take into consideration how the people of Iraq must have felt toward George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's illegal, unjustified invasion of their sovereign nation. One cannot help but wonder how humanely Chris Kyle would have reacted had Saddam Hussein invaded his hometown of Odessa, Texas. "Savage, despicable evil" indeed. Everything is relative. Then again, that was a quote from his autobiography, which was ghost-written. Who knows what the silly bastard was really thinking.
I have not seen the new movie, about the life and "career" of Chris Kyle, nor do I plan to. Were I to stumble upon a copy of it on DVD, I might give it a whirl - if only out of morbid curiosity you understand. Other than that I have no desire to view it. My purpose here is not to comment on the film's merit - or lack thereof - as so many people who haven't seen it - (left and right) - seem to be doing these days. Besides, film criticism isn't really my schtick. I speak merely as a battle-hardened correspondent in America's never-ending culture war.
The other day there was a posting on a friend's Facebook page that made its way on to my home feed. Someone had posted a glowing endorsement of Clint Eastwood's latest directorial effort, American Sniper, based on the memoirs quoted above. The only comment I could make was my opinion that Chris Kyle was the best advertizement I could think of for more regulation of the firearms industry. He handed a loaded gun to a person he knew damned well to be mentally ill. That carelessness cost him and another man their lives. Genius.
When someone in the thread pointed out to me that the Second Amendment guaranteed "The right of the people to keep and bear arms", I responded by quoting that section in its full and proper context:
|Clint debates a chair|
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free
state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be
I wondered aloud, "What happened to that 'well regulated militia' bit?" As gently and as tactfully as I could, I pointed out that the part they love to quote so much is always quoted out of context. It is, in fact, only half of a much larger sentence.
This was probably a mistake on my part. You wouldn't believe the shit-storm of invective that I was subjected to....or perhaps you would. Their wrath didn't really bother me all that much. "If you can't stand the heat...." as Harry Truman once advised. In fact their complete freak-out was really kind of funny.
Apparently most (if not all) of the guys who commented are veterans of Operation Iraqi "Freedom". One of them said that I should show a lot more respect to the "men" (he neglected to mention the women) who fought over there for my "freedom". Another one even had the chutzpah to say that I was an idiot and an ingrate, and that I owe my right to free speech to the vets of Iraq. I responded that my First Amendment rights were fully in place when the United States Constitution was ratified two-hundred and twenty-six years ago. That's when the proverbial substance hit the old fan. I should have known better. The entire discussion went completely downhill from there.
It's time to take a deep breath, folks. I have no disrespect for anyone who believes that it is his or her vocation to don the uniform of the United States military. That's fine and dandy. But to imply that they were over there fighting so that I (or any of us) shall remain "free" is an absurdity too profound to contemplate. In March of 2003, George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney saw an opportunity to seize one of the largest oil reserves on the planet. They also sought to turn an armed conflict into a capitalistic orgy. Cheney's company, Halliburton, made billions in Iraq providing American servicemen and women with facilities and equipment, a lot of which proved to be of such piss-poor quality that it cost the lives of a few of the people who were unfortunate enough to utilize them - such as when some of these poor kids were electrocuted while performing the mere ritual of taking a shower in stalls provided by Cheney and his buddies. Nice.
That's what the war in Iraq was all about: a golden opportunity for a few obscenely wealthy bastards and bitches to become obscenely wealthier. "Freedom"??? Please. That's complete and utter nonsense. Don't insult my intelligence.
"Bring 'em on!"
-George W. Bush, Summer 2003
That it was the worst military blunder in American history only a fool would deny with hindsight. When Iraq exploded in sectarian violence in the summer of 2003, it was only a matter of time before the United States turned tail and got the hell out of there while the getting was good. The only problem was simply that the "getting" would never get very good at all; and it took a nearly a decade for our leaders to realize this nasty little fact. Unfortunately by that time the death toll had risen so high that they have yet to accurately assess the total number of lives lost on the Iraqi side. It might be a million souls lost. It might be more. Most of the dead were not of the "savage, despicable evil" variety of Chris Kyle's memories, but innocent men, women and little children. Ain't that a scream?
And now there is an attempt being made by some of our friends on the loony right to turn Chris Kyle into a secular saint. That's the biggest joke of all - and quite a bit disturbing at the same time. Any criticism of American Sniper is seen by these nitwits as borderline blasphemy, can you believe that?
Tell you what: Would you like to see a film about a true, honest-to-goodness American hero? Go see "Selma". It's about a guy named Martin Luther King. Incidentally, he was shot and killed on April 4, 1968 - by an American sniper named James Earl Ray. Not only that, Dr. King really did die for our freedoms - unlike Chris Kyle - who died simply because he was foolish enough to give a dangerous weapon to a guy on a shooting range who was as crazy as a bedbug. Real life is just drenched with juicy little ironies like that one, you know?
I'm afraid that my observations on my old pal's Facebook feed cost me a friendship that went back over four decades. My comments were deleted and I was immediately "unfriended". That's okay. What good are forty-year-old friendships if they can't be shattered into a million pieces overnight by something as seemingly trivial to human relationships as politics? I'll be fine, I promise. He'll be fine, too, I'm sure.
Every time I meet a person who served in Iraq, my inclination is not to thank them for their service to our country, but, rather, to apologize to them. "Sorry for the fuck up", I'm tempted to say, "I didn't vote for Dubya, Honest I didn't."
Respect? Sure. But I pity them much more than I respect them - much, much more.
Pray for peace.
a film by Robert Greenwald
I left a link to watch this film a little less than three weeks ago, but I need to do it again. This excellent documentary details, with
depressing accuracy, the incompetence and corruption behind the Bush
Mob's illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the financial killing that Cheney and other GOP-connected "entrepreneurs" made off of it. This is the most important
documentary to emerge from the Bush years, and so few people have seen
it. See it now. You can pick it up for under ten bucks at amazon.com. I cannot recommend it enough. Watch it.
A BLAST FROM THE PAST:
Here's a really funny posting I saw on Facebook back in November. At the time I shared it on this site. Forgive me, but I need to share it with you again. It really is a riot of mirth!
Yeah, Dubya 'cared about' the troops
alright. The half-witted little psychopath "cared about" them so much that
he sent them off to fight
an illegal, un-winnable war in which over five thousand of them
sacrificed their lives. Now he lives in cushy retirement while the vets
that he "cared about" so much are committing suicide at record numbers.
Yeah, George W. Bush "cared about" the troops. Ain't that a fucking
|Cooper as Kyle|
by Buddy Holly
"But February made me shiver with every paper I'd deliver...." The music died fifty-six years ago today:
And the three men I admire most
| A real Texas hero|
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died....
Special thanks to Facebook friend, Judi Stately, for the Harper Lee quote at the top of this piece.
Hi ho, everybody, hi ho....