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American Sniper

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[Th]he movie gives America something it’s lacked since the start of the war — a war hero on a truly national, cultural scale. Yes, we’ve learned the stories of Marcus Luttrell and others who’ve achieved great and heroic things, but with the success of this movie, Chris Kyle has entered the pantheon of American warriors — along with Alvin C. York and Audie Murphy — giving a new generation of young boys a warrior-hero to look up to, to emulate. After all, our kids’ heroes can’t be — must not be — exclusively quarterbacks, rappers, or point guards.

No one is claiming that Chris Kyle is Jesus. Every human being has flaws. And he risked no more and no less than the thousands upon thousands of anonymous soldiers and Marines who fought house-to-house during their own turns downrange, but he undeniably did his job better than any man who came before him — or any man since — and he did that job as part of his selfless service to our nation. I’m thankful that my own son counts Chris Kyle as a hero.

Leftists such as Michael Moore will rage on, and professors will judge the movie without seeing it — and all that backlash may cost the movie an Oscar — but Clint Eastwood has done something far greater than win an Oscar. He reached a great nation with a story it needed to hear.

David French, National Review

Men who shed tears if they have to kill a chicken kill on the battlefield without a qualm. They do so purely for the common good, repressing their human feeling as a painful, altruistic duty. Executioners kill a very few guilty men, parricides, forgers, and the like. Soldiers kill thousands of guiltless men, indiscriminately, blindly, with wild enthusiasm. Suppose an innocent visitor from another planet were to ask which of these two groups was shunned and despised on earth, and which was acclaimed, admired, rewarded, what would we answer? “Explain to me why the most honorable thing in the world — in the opinion of the entire human race without exception — is the right innocently to shed innocent human blood?”

Isaiah Berlin, paraphrasing and quoting Joseph de Maistre, in “Joseph de Maistre and the Origins of Fascism.”

Among the calamities of war may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.

Samuel Johnson

Unfortunately, there is often a need of some concrete incident before one
can discover the real state of one’s feelings. Here is another memory
from Germany. A few hours after Stuttgart was captured by the French
army, a Belgian journalist and myself entered the town, which was still
in some disorder. The Belgian had been broadcasting throughout the war
for the European Service of the BBC, and, like nearly all Frenchmen or
Belgians, he had a very much tougher attitude towards ‘the Boche’ than an
Englishman or an American would have. All the main bridges into town had
been blown up, and we had to enter by a small footbridge which the
Germans had evidently made efforts to defend. A dead German soldier was
lying supine at the foot of the steps. His face was a waxy yellow. On his
breast someone had laid a bunch of the lilac which was blooming
everywhere.

The Belgian averted his face as we went past. When we were well over the
bridge he confided to me that this was the first time he had seen a dead
man. I suppose he was thirty five years old, and for four years he had
been doing war propaganda over the radio. For several days after this,
his attitude was quite different from what it had been earlier. He looked
with disgust at the bomb-wrecked town and the humiliation the Germans
were undergoing, and even on one occasion intervened to prevent a
particularly bad bit of looting. When he left, he gave the residue of the
coffee we had brought with us to the Germans on whom we were billeted. A
week earlier he would probably have been scandalized at the idea of
giving coffee to a ‘Boche’. But his feelings, he told me, had undergone a
change at the sight of ce pauvre mort beside the bridge: it had suddenly
brought home to him the meaning of war. And yet, if we had happened to
enter the town by another route, he might have been spared the experience
of seeing one corpse out of the–perhaps–twenty million that the war
has produced.

George Orwell, “Revenge is Sour”

I could not dig; I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

Rudyard Kipling, “A Dead Statesman”

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