Famed linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky took some time during a Cambridge, Massachusetts event hosted by The Baffler to discuss the film American Sniper and what its popularity says about the American people.
He began by reading a glowing review of the film in The New York Times that began by insulting “America’s coastal intelligentsia, which has busied itself with chatter over little-seen art dramas while everyday Americans showed up en masse for a patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days.”
“What was the patriotic, pro-family film that so entranced everyday Americans?” Chomsky asked by way of response. “It’s about the most deadly sniper in American history, a guy named Chris Kyle, who claims to have used his skills to have killed several hundred people in Iraq.”
“In [American Sniper], he describes what the experience was like, so I’ll quote him. His first kill was a woman, who walked into the street with a grenade in her hand as the Marines attacked her village. Chris Kyle killed her with a single shot, and he explains how he felt about it.”
“‘I hated the damn savages I’d been fighting,'” Chomsky said, quoting Kyle. “‘Savage, despicable, evil — that’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy savages. There was really no other way to describe what we encountered there.'”
After admitting that he had not seen the film, only read numerous reviews, Chomsky noted that The New Yorker “said it was great, kept to the cinematic values, said it was well done — but there were others who found it appalling, including [Newsweek‘s] Jeff Stein, a former US intelligence officer who wrote a very critical review, keeping to the content.”
Stein recalled a visit he had made to a “clubhouse for snipers, where to quote him, ‘the barroom walls featured white-on-black Nazi SS insignia, and other Wehrmacht regalia. The Marine shooters clearly identified with the marksmen of the world’s most infamous killing machine, rather than regular troops.”
“Getting back to Chris Kyle,” Chomsky continued, “he regarded his first kill as a terrorist — this woman who walked in the street — but we can’t really attribute that to the mentality of a psychopathic killer, because we’re all tarred by the same brush insofar as we tolerate or keep silent about official policy.”
“Now, that [sniper] mentality helps explain why it’s so easy to ignore what is most clearly the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern history, if not ever — Obama’s global assassination campaign, the drone campaign, which officially is aimed at murdering people who are suspected of maybe someday planning to harm us.”
“I’d advise you to read some of the transcripts with drone operators,” Chomsky said. “They’re harrowing — the guys who are sitting in front of computers in Las Vegas,” drawing a comparison to the manner in which Kyle dehumanized his targets.
Watch Noam Chomsky discuss American Sniper via WGBH below.
Trump told NRA’s Wayne LaPierre he’s not ‘waffling’ anymore — background checks are off the table
President Donald Trump made a congratulatory phone call to National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre to let the far-right organization know that the White House was reversing itself and would not be supporting universal background checks for firearms sales.
Following shooting massacres in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, Trump had argued the time was now for background checks.
"Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks," Trump argued. "Perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!"
‘He’s getting more panicked’: Editor lays out how Trump’s self-destruction could set the world on fire
On Tuesday's edition of MSNBC's "Deadline: White House," Bloomberg Opinion executive editor Tim O'Brien said that President Donald Trump is losing what little control he had — and getting all the more dangerous for it.
"I think he’s getting more panicked," said O'Brien. "I think — I suspect that Trump, when the Mueller investigation ended, thought that sort of existential threats to his presidency had been put to rest, and in very short order I think 'Trump the racist' became a very appropriate and damning moniker that got attached to him after Elijah Cummings, 'Trump the racist' will be part of his historical legacy. And now you have the economy starting to deteriorate a bit around the edges. Whether or not that’s going to be a recession or not, I don’t know, but there’s enough alarm bells on there for a president who has routinely attached his reputation, to a strong economy that’s a job creating economy, and markets are going bananas."
Trump: ‘Any Jewish people’ who vote for Democrats have ‘a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty’
President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused the majority of Jewish American voters of having "a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty" because they support Democrats.
While discussing Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) during a talk with reporters, the president said he couldn't imagine any Jewish American voting for the Democrats due to the congresswomen's comments about Israel.
"I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty," Trump said.