A response to the release of “AMERICAN SNIPER”, a Clint Eastwood-directed film celebrating a US Navy Seal who is known as the “most lethal American sniper in history,” who murdered hundreds of Iraqis as part of the U.S. imperialist counterinsurgency warfare against the Iraqi people. The following article was written by Jesse Nevel of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement.
The trailer for American Sniper is another vulgar piece of of American imperialist propaganda designed to reinforce and celebrate a violent, colonial system. It begins with a portrayal by Bradly Cooper of famed US Navy Seal Chris Kyle and another U.S. navy seal stationed with their guns pointed at Iraqis. Each time an Iraqi walks into frame, they ensnare them in their cross-hairs and radio their higher-ups to get clearance to blow them away. Suddenly an Iraqi woman and a small child walk into the street. Sniper aims his gun, radios his superior.
Suddenly he sees what he thinks is a bomb of some sort being transferred from under the woman’s garment into the child’s hands. Should i shoot, he asks. His superior tells him to use his judgment. As images of his own wife and child flash through his mind, his brow tenses and he pulls the trigger…
We are meant to sympathize with the sniper in this moment of difficult decision making, we are meant to connect with his humanity – evidenced by the flashback cutaways of his smiling family – as he annihilates an Iraqi woman and child. We are meant to feel for him and and his knot of complex emotions, as he “does his duty” for America despite the human cost. Now let’s back up a minute. On the other hand the Iraqi woman and child are reduced to targets to be bullseyed, examples of the terrorist scourge that the heroic US army is deployed to eliminate.
We are not meant to consider that perhaps there might be a reason the Iraqi woman and child find it necessary to arm themselves with bombs. We are meant to overlook the fact that perhaps they are arming themselves in defense against the ubiquitous presence of American white guys strapped with sniper rifles who have invaded their homeland and are pointing guns at them.
We are not provided any context of the years of military carnage wrought by the United States against the Iraqi people, murdering hundreds of thousands of babies, children, women and men, pulverizing entire communities, stoking sectarian mayhem and wiping out the culture and history of a people.
Instead, as the white killer aims his gun at a child and woman, we see images of HIS family, not images of the Iraqi child smiling as his mother holds him in her arms. we don’t hear the sounds of her ebullient laughter as she teaches her child how to read. No, because they are not human, they are “the other,” they are the “terrorists.”
It is a textbook case of imperialist dehumanization of the colonial subject. Only in the movies, however, does the colonizer still control the narrative. In the real world, the Iraqi woman and her child are the ones shaping and defining the future. Africa is shaping the future. Ferguson is shaping the future. Indigenous people are shaping the future.
These hideous cinematic projections of the imperialist imagination are evidence of a desperate and dying beast scrambling to justify and defend itself as its foundation crumbles beneath its torpid weight.