American Sniper describes “the true nature of the enemy” for the first time

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By David French,

from National Review Online,

This movie [is] striking a chord in America beyond any post 9/11 movie — beyond even the best of movies about the War on Terror, including Lone Survivor. I think I know why.

First — and most important — it’s a phenomenal movie. America is awash in “message movies,” left and (recently) on the right. While there are some people who’ll attend movies just to make a statement, most of us want to see good movies, with the right statement merely an optional bonus. American Sniper is better than good. It’s one of the best war movies I’ve ever seen.

Second, it tells a story that America isn’t told. I’ve beaten this drum for a while now, but one of my core criticisms of movies about the War on Terror is that they flinch — not when telling of the horrors of war for American soldiers — but when describing the true nature of the enemy. American Sniper goes where no movie has gone before in showing how the enemy uses children, kills children, and savagely tortures its enemies (Kyle discovers a torture room in Fallujah, and its portrayal is very close to reality). … When Kyle describes the enemy as “savages,” you know exactly why, and you agree with him.

But it’s not just telling the story of the enemy, but also of a key reality about our soldiers that many Americans don’t get. Of course war is horrifying. There are real consequences in PTSD and survivor guilt, and for tens of thousands there are real consequences in enduring physical wounds. … But here’s the thing: The vast majority of soldiers get through that trauma and emerge on the other side, often better men.

This is an important story. Yes, there is grief that endures. And, yes, there are often wounds that won’t fully heal. But there is also fierce pride in service, new insights on life and our world, new appreciation for the blessings of liberty and the love of family, and many other perspectives and experiences that enrich the lives of veterans and veterans’ families. It was just as critical to see Chris Kyle heal as it was to see him suffer.

Finally, the movie gives America something it’s lacked since the start of the war — a war hero on a truly national, cultural scale. Yes, we’ve learned the stories of Marcus Luttrell and others who’ve achieved great and heroic things, but with the success of this movie, Chris Kyle has entered the pantheon of American warriors — along with Alvin C. York and Audie Murphy — giving a new generation of young boys a warrior-hero to look up to, to emulate. After all, our kids’ heroes can’t be — must not be — exclusively quarterbacks, rappers, or point guards.

No one is claiming that Chris Kyle is Jesus. Every human being has flaws … but he undeniably did his job better than any man who came before him

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