Much to the chagrin of Hollywood leftists like Michael Moore, Seth Rogen, and Bill Maher, “American Sniper” has been the No. 1 watched film in America for the second weekend in a row.
This is the best war film I’ve ever seen depicting the parallel worlds of the battlefield, home front, and the transitional world where post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) lies in wait for new victims.
The film is based on the true life story of America’s most decorated sniper, Chris Kyle. With all I expected from the film, what I didn’t expect was to walk away with an overwhelming sense that I had failed our troops and their families as a civilian. Judging by the silence that overcame the entire audience at the end of the film, I suspect I wasn’t alone.
There are some givens in the movie. Iraq was a “hotbed” for Islamic terrorist. Chris Kyle, and many like him, were inspired to enlist and risk their lives for their love of country and fellow man, particularly following the Nairobi embassy bombing in Kenya and Sept. 11. Navy SEALs are an elite military force that can’t be reckoned with in the theater of war. Lastly, Islamic terrorists are evil incarnate, as suspected.
However, in addition to war, the struggle to retain a sense of normalcy that our soldiers face when returning home is something civilians often take for granted, and it left me more appreciative of their sacrifices than ever before. “American Sniper” isn’t just a movie. It’s a stark reminder of who America’s heroes really are. Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle was uncanny. Clint Eastwood’s ability to capture the struggles of PTSD and how it affects a soldier’s family life, the love for his brothers at arms, the desire, and perhaps addiction to protect America at all cost comes to life on the big screen.
Here are a few of my takeaways from the film every civilian should see:
1.) The lack of respect, appreciation, or simple acknowledgement expressed by media, politicians and civilians to our returning troops may partly contribute to their inability to re-assimilate into society. There was a scene in the film that will likely go unheard unless you see it. Chris Kyle returned home from one of his tours overseas. He and his wife were driving to the mall and it was evident to her that he had PTSD. She confronted him with her concerns. In frustration, he yelled out that no one was even talking about the war anymore. The guilt of driving down the street, windows down in his big black F-250, as sunrays warmed his forearm with the breeze flowing over his sullied ball cap while his brothers were facing sandstorms, saving lives and bullets whisking over their heads, was almost too much for him to bear. He couldn’t enjoy the very freedoms he helped to provide.
2.) Women and children in America are held in high esteem. Compare that to women and children in Middle Eastern war zones often used for sex and to advance the cause of Jihad. Many Americans, especially leftists, cannot comprehend the depths of depravity and evil that exist within the hearts and minds of our enemies. In the film, Chris Kyle’s wife uses her phone to call her husband. A female jihadist uses her phone to call an Islamic assassin. Likewise, Chris Kyle, despite his foibles, returned home to play with his kids. In Iraq, he was forced to shoot kids attempting to kill Marines with explosive devices.
3.) Without God and counseling, I don’t see how any marriage could withstand multiple deployments. Clint Eastwood was masterful in helping his audience grasp the dynamic of the chasm that exists between the war zone and the home front. At times in the film I wasn’t sure if Chris Kyle preferred his military family or biological family at home. The competition between the parallel worlds that plays out in a soldier’s mind is a real one that needs to be addressed by all Americans.
4.) Lastly, our current rules of engagement are simply unrealistic for a war zone. I’m convinced fewer American soldiers would be killed, as well as innocent civilians, if we left the rules of engagement up to our generals on the ground rather than politicians in D.C. who have never seen a battlefield, and are naive enough to believe our enemies think like us. The side that kills the most bad guys wins in war. Let’s stop pretending there’s an alternative. If we’re going to send our troops into harm’s way, let’s have the decency to let them win.
“American Sniper” is just as much a call to action for civilians as it is for troops. Let’s make sure we answer the call.
Carl Jackson is a radio talk show host – his web site is www.carljacksonshow.com