American Sniper, American Shame

American Sniper recently took home an Oscar from the Academy Awards and made over $300 million in the box office. But despite the praise from film critics and the general public alike, it fails to tell the real story of the Iraq War, instead glorifying a man who considered the Iraqis he was fighting to be savages.

First I would like to address one of the most irresponsible aspects of the premise of American Sniper. The United States did not invade Iraq because of Al-Qaeda or as a result of the attacks of Sept. 11, as American Sniper suggests through the use of footage of terrorist attacks that causes Chris Kyle to enlist. The United States invaded because the government believed that the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction, and by misleading the public into believing that Iraqi terrorists had been attacking Americans before the invasion, American Sniper grossly rewrites history.

One of the biggest shortcomings of the movie is that it chooses not to include depictions of the lives of the 115,000 Iraqi civilians that the organization Cost of War estimates were killed as a result of the Iraq War. American Sniper has no problem showing Iraqi militants brutally killing civilians, yet somehow neglects to depict a dark aspect of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Instead there are only three Iraqi women and four Iraqi children with meaningful roles in the movie. Of the women, two of them carry out terrorist attacks and one cries while her son is brutally killed by a terrorist. As for the children, two of them carry out terrorist attacks, one is the son of an arms dealer to terrorists, and one is the victim of a gruesome terrorist attack.

One aspect of the movie that I did appreciate and see as realistic was its depiction of Kyle’s life once he returns from the war. The movie does not sugarcoat the lives of soldiers who are forced to serve in combat, and for that I applaud director Clint Eastwood.

That being said, if the inaccuracies of the Iraq War were not bad enough, there is also the fact that the validity of many of Chris Kyle’s stories has been questioned.

Among some of the more outlandish claims in his book American Sniper: the time he supposedly climbed on top of the Super Dome in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in order act as a sniper and kill people who were looting. Aside from the fact that stealing is not a crime that is punishable by death anywhere other than maybe North Korea, people have questioned whether this story was in any way possible, since military records show that his division was never sent to help in the aftermath of Katrina.

As the second longest war in the U.S. history after the Afghan War, the Iraq War is one of the darkest moments in our history, as hundreds of thousands of people were killed as a result of the fighting. By omitting key aspects of the war that would have made the United States appear unfavorable, and by portraying someone who called his job of killing women and children “fun” in his book, American Sniper becomes not a movie that honors the brave Americans who fought in Iraq, but rather a shameful story that gives the American public a warped perception of the Iraq War.