By Rania Khalek – ElectronicIntifada.net
Following the release of the film American Sniper in theaters across the US, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has warned of a “significant rise in violent hate rhetoric targeting the Arab and Muslim-American communities.”
The ADC believes the threats “are directly linked to the negative media coverage and hateful propaganda launched against the Arab and Muslim communities following the attacks on the Charlie Hedbo offices in France” earlier this month. But the civil rights organization notes that racist threats have intensified in the wake of American Sniper, with moviegoers taking to social media to express their desire to murder Arabs and Muslims after leaving the theater.
Having both watched the movie and read the book on which it is based, I am not the least bit surprised by the incitement it has spawned. American Sniper is brilliant propaganda that valorizes American military aggression while delivering Hollywood’s most racist depiction of Arabs in recent memory, effectively legitimizing America’s ongoing bombing campaigns across the Middle East.
Unrepentant mass killer
American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood, is based on the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, reputedly the deadliest sniper in American history.
Replete with hatred, bigotry and unrepentant bloodlust, Kyle’s book boasts of killing 160 Iraqi “savages” during his four deployments in Iraq following the illegal US invasion and occupation in 2003.
“Savage, despicable evil. That’s what we were fighting in Iraq,” Kyle writes in his book.
“I only wish I had killed more,” he writes, adding, “I loved what I did … It was fun. I had the time of my life.”
“They hated us because we weren’t Muslim. They wanted to kill us, even though we just booted out their dictator, because we practiced a different religion than they did,” adds Kyle, who goes on to confess, “I don’t shoot people with Korans – I’d like to, but I don’t.” In Kyle’s mind, all Iraqis who resisted the invading US soldiers were irrationally violent religious fanatics.
In stark contrast, Hollywood sanitizes Kyle, humanizing him as a complex, likable and anguished hero.
Following the movie’s debut in select theaters on Christmas Day, author and journalist Max Blumenthal and I were deluged with death and rape threats for tweeting our disgust with Hollywood’s glorification of a mass killer and exposing the racism and lies espoused by Kyle. Although Kyle’s most ardent supporters claim to hate ISIS and al-Qaeda, they often call on these terrorist groups to behead critics of US military aggression.
The movie has since broken box office records, grossing $105 million during its nationwide opening and garnered accolades from across the political spectrum (Vice President Joe Biden said he wept at the Washington, DC premier). In addition, the movie scored six Academy Award nominations.
Frustrated by the glorification and whitewash of a racist mass killer, I posted passages from Kyle’s book on Twitter, highlighting his hateful and homicidal statements and drew attention to the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim threats the movie was inspiring, all of which I compiled into a Storify that went viral.
The reaction to the movie has since snowballed into a partisan bickering match, with celebrities chiming in.
Actor Seth Rogen compared American Sniper to Stolz der Nation (Nation’s Pride), a fictitious Nazi propaganda film about a glorified Nazi sniper that appears at the end of the Quentin Tarantino movie Inglorious Basterds (the Nazi sniper is shown mowing down American and British soldiers with great efficiency and apparent moral superiority). Documentary maker Michael Moore also stirred controversy when he tweeted that snipers “aren’t heroes,” though he later clarified he was not referring toAmerican Sniper, which he liked. Nevertheless, a who’s who of rightwing celebrities, pundits, politicians and worshippers of US military aggression have whipped up an ultra-nationalist frenzy, firing back against the movie’s critics.
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