BY: KHADIJA KHAN
American Sniper is proving to be brilliant propaganda that reveres American military aggression while conveying Hollywood’s most racist depiction of Arabs that is effectively legitimizing America’s constant bombing crusades across the Middle East. Where Clint Eastwood misses the mark is by turning the storyline heavily toward American exceptionalism versus Islam, or, as it is portrayed in the movie, good versus evil.
Following the massive $107 million dollar opening weekend release of the film, according to their Twitter, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has warned of a “significant rise in violent hate rhetoric targeting the Arab and Muslim-American communities.”
American Sniper is based on the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, known as the deadliest sniper in American history. In his memoir, he brags of slaying 160 Iraqi “savages” during his four tours in Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion.
“I only wish I had killed more,” Kyle wrote in his book, adding “I loved what I did…it was fun. I had the time of my life.”
He confessed, “I don’t shoot people with Korans – I’d like to, but I don’t.”
Along with the negative media coverage that emerged following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, anti-Arab and islamophobic tensions in the world have increased, especially in the U.S. where the sensationalism of terrorism has been normalized in the mainstream media since 9/11.
The major problem of a Hollywood blockbuster further entrenching these ideas into of millions of wide-eyed spectators is that many have begin using this as moral evidence to justify hate. People are turning to social media, namely Twitter, to lash out at Arabs and Muslims.
In fact, check out these tweets of quotes and screenshots collected by Rania Khalek.
Hollywood glorifies murder and colonization while effectively washing Kyle’s blood-smeared hands. This film humanizes Kyle into a likeable and distraught hero who only wishes to defeat the enemy. But get this: in the end, it wasn’t the “savages” that killed Kyle. It was a fellow soldier who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder that shot Kyle dead at a gun range in Texas in 2013.
The very fact that the film avoided this reality and skipped to his funeral at the end of the film speaks volumes about the framing of the story line. Unsurprisingly, this convenient exclusion led viewers to believe he was killed on duty in Iraq.
Apparently, the film’s focus was to generate a significant and intellectual dialogue about the war and battlefield experience. With 205,717 Iraqi civilians killed in comparison to 5,275 American military personnel according to iraqibodycount.org—which some would consider conservative estimates— I’m still waiting for that discourse to take place.