Chris Kyle. I don't know what to think of him as a person, and frankly, I really don't give a damn. Neither do I know what to make of the book or movie about him, and the same failure to give a damn applies.
What I do care about -- tremendously -- is the fact that his story is being used as propaganda in favor of this country remaining in a perpetual state of war, which is something we have been warned against throughout our history. Many people quote Alexis de Tocqueville, who famously and brilliantly summed it up: "No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country." But George Orwell went into a bit more detail in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and it's a necessary bit of fiction to read, because it has now become reality:
The war, therefore if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is merely an imposture. It is like the battles between certain ruminant animals whose horns are incapable of hurting one another. But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the special mental atmosphere that the hierarchical society needs. War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. In the past, the ruling groups of all countries, although they might recognize their common interest and therefore limit the destructiveness of war, did fight against one another, and the victor always plundered the vanquished. In our own day they are not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact.
The very word "war," therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist. The peculiar pressure that is exerted on human beings between the Neolithic Age and the early twentieth century has disappeared and has been replaced by something quite different. The effect would be much the same if the three superstates, instead of fighting one another, should agree to live in perpetual peace, each inviolate within its own boundaries. For in that case each would still be a self-contained universe, freed forever from the sobering influence of external danger. A peace that was truly permanent would be the same as a permanent war. This--although the vast majority of Party members understand it only in a shallower sense--is the inner meaning of the Party slogan: WAR IS PEACE.
So how can a movie about a sniper be used as pro-perpetual war propaganda? It's so deviously simple that it's far too effective for anyone's good: if you so much as question the motivations of the story or it's telling, you're seen by the neoconservatives(*) as questioning the war. You're instantly labeled as anti-American, "liberal," unpatriotic, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. This is the Trey Parker / Matt Stone "America, FUCK YEAH!" and "if yew don' lahk it, yew kin GIIIIIIIT OWWWT!" stereoptype... but unfortunately, it's no longer just a stereotype embodied by a handful of ignorant racists demanding revenge against the towelheads for 9/11, this is now literally the neocon party line. To question anything having to do with the war is to question America -- which, as any good little neocon will tell you, is the only remaining source of liberty on this God-forsaken planet, and what is peace if not liberty? Therefore, to question the war is to question peace. WAR IS PEACE.
I know this firsthand. I've had it happen to me more than once over more than just the movie American Sniper... and directed at me by people who I happen to know are far more intelligent than that, yet they've allowed themselves to fall into this trap of false patriotism. Some of them have served in the military and use that as an excuse, but others haven't. It has absolutely nothing to do with military service or lack thereof. These people are simply and blindly following the idiotic line of thought that if you so much as question a movie about a book about a single veteran of a war that you might even agree is justified, you're a traitor and engaging in demoralization. Of course that's not true, but that's the response you'll get.
To these people, I say this: when you grow up, when you decide to use your God-given brain power to understand that this isn't about criticizing the war or the country, when you can fully comprehend that perpetual war is a destructive force that will leave us without a country TO criticize, then maybe -- JUST MAYBE -- you might have to take a look at this film in a different light. Because what you're doing? The baseless treason accusations and faulty logic? That is what is truly un-American. You can disagree with me that this movie is propaganda all you want -- and I happily base my observation on the fact that it might not have been intended as such to begin with. But my statement of that conclusion is firmly rooted in my love of this country. My patriostism is my motivation for pointing this out. Because we are well into the trek down into an abyss that there is only one way out of, and that way out is not by continuing the climb down into it.
(*): Not that the liberals are any better. They pay lip service to peace and liberty, but they know what side of the political bread the monetary butter is on.