I haven’t seen Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper”, so I cannot rate it as a work of art. I’m more interested in the conversation … no, that’s not the word. Social media doesn’t seem to support conversation or debate. More like sniping. Ironically, I guess. Anyway, I was reading about the chilling, disturbing things Christopher Kyle had said in interviews and in his memoir, and following the online back-and-forth, when I saw a number of people contend Kyle had killed a kid. The trailers for the film show a terrifying moment when Bradley Cooper as Kyle gets a little boy and his mother in the cross-hairs, waiting to take a shot. Children are far too often casualties of war (and famine, social neglect, domestic violence, etc.), but there was something so sensationalized about the scene, that I just had to see if it was true.
Did Chris Kyle really shoot a boy who was concealing a grenade?
No. In the movie, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) shoots a boy and his mother who are approaching a U.S. Marine convoy concealing an RKG-3 Russian Anti-Tank Grenade. In the book, a woman does come out of a small house with her child, but she approaches the convoy by herself as she conceals something beneath her clothes. She sets a Chinese grenade, not a Russian RKG. Kyle hesitates shooting the woman but does take the shot. The grenade drops and he fires again as it’s exploding. It was “the only time I killed anyone other than a male combatant,” writes Kyle. In the book, he indicates that this is his first kill in Iraq.
In his autobiography, Chris Kyle does scope a child at one point. The moment is also depicted in the movie. The combatants had sent the child down the street to retrieve an RPG (in the movie, a nearby boy simply wanders over and picks up the RPG). “I had a clear view in my scope,” writes Kyle, “but I didn’t fire. I wasn’t going to kill a kid, innocent or not. I’d have to wait until the savage who put him up to it showed himself on the street.”
The late Kyle’s use of “savage” (as well as “evil”) to describe people resisting the occupation of their country by foreign powers is deplorable. The body count is pretty vile, too, but at least this little boy isn’t among the corpses. But I find it pretty irresponsible to portray Kyle killing a kid when he did not in fact do so. I don’t know what Eastwood is getting at, and I support artistic license, but only if it serves the truth; this muddies the water. The fact is real children have been killed by our weapons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and many other places; they have been killed by people with Kyle’s stunted view of morality, and by much more sophisticated intellects in the halls of power, using euphemisms, weasel words and other linguistic deflections to obscure the impact of their destructive policies.
Oh, and: The dude in the last panel with Obama is John Brennan. Like a good CIA Director, he keeps a low profile. He was Obama’s right hand man in the early escalations of the drone program, and remains actively involved with it now.