My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren't heroes. And invaders r worse
Moore's tweet has been the focus of many headlines and a plethora of backlash. But, it highlights a subtle irony in American history that has often baffled me. When it comes to war, what is right and what is wrong? What is patriotic and what is excessive force?
While his comments are true in the fact that snipers were considered cowards in WWII, his timing to announce this on the opening day of American Sniper was not very bright. To compare Navy SEAL Chris Kyle to a sniper in the Second World War is un-American. Chris Kyle was a hero, both on and off the battlefield.
Hence the irony. What made Kyle a hero and German snipers cowards? Is it something as simple as selfish pride? Kyle was an American sniper killing our enemies, and German snipers were the enemy killing our troops. Could it be that black-and-white?
Was it the conflicts themselves that set the standards? WWII was perhaps the greatest cause the United States has ever had for going to war. The Axis forces were set to take over the entire world at the whim of a truly evil man -- Adolf Hitler. In that sense, you could argue that every soldier for that cause: snipers, foot soldiers, artillerymen, pilots, tank drivers, etc., were all A-holes.
Perspective plays a huge role in our opinions. It's human nature. During the Vietnam War, we were appalled at the guerilla warfare tactics of the Viet Cong. How dare they hide in the jungle and shoot at our troops like cowards. Seriously, how dare they?
We forget that it was us who practically invented guerilla warfare during the Revolutionary War. Facing a superior fighting force and outnumbered greatly, we did the only thing we could do to win. To steal a line from one of the most patriotic songs of all time: "We hide behind our cotton bales and didn't say a thing."
That's right; we chose to forego the "rules" of war. Instead of marching straight down the battlefield armed with muskets and bayonets, drummers and buglers stepping in stride, firing at each other like gentlemen, we hid and shot the enemy from cover. It was successful. We won. And we still revel in its heroism. Heck, you could even make a movie about it and call it The Patriot.
Another action taken by the enemy during the Vietnam War was the treatment of our POWs. Ignoring the Geneva Convention's rules for war, the Viet Cong tortured prisoners in several now infamous prison camps. If you ever want to know the horrific details of what those prisoners went through at places like the Hanoi Hilton, read Senator Jeremiah Denton's book, When Hell Was in Session.
We were so sickened at this gross miscarriage of justice and we were all sure of one thing: The United States of America would never ever participate in something so wrong. We would never disregard the rules set forth in the Geneva Convention and torture POWs.
Of course I'm being a tad sadistic here. It did happen and the argument still carries over as to whether or not we were right for doing it. In my mind, the only thing that can make it right is the fact that it was us doing it and not our enemy.
Which brings us back to the original question regarding Chris Kyle and the German snipers of WWII. Here are my thoughts:
Chris Kyle was a great American and a hero.
Clint Eastwood is a great movie maker and an American treasure.
Michael Moore is a great documentary maker and as American as anyone else. He just happened to stick his foot in his mouth like all of us are prone to do.