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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

American Sniper movie review: a pawn in the game, misplayed

American Sniper yellow light

A banal, bland tribute to things no one questions as laudable (though it has to misrepresent its subject to do so). But Bradley Cooper is very good.
I’m “biast” (pro): love Bradley Cooper

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

My first thought was: “This isn’t a movie. It’s a eulogy.” I meant it, in my head, metaphorically: American Sniper felt like sitting through a story told at a funeral during which the poor sap of a cousin who got roped into the job is trying to dance around the fact that the deceased was kind of jerk by deploying a bunch of clichéd claptrap about warm cozy mundane things that no one could possibly be crass enough to object to, not at a funeral, fer cripes’ sake. “He liked a good beer.” “His pickup truck was his pride and joy.” “Umm, wife and babies!” (Not actual quotes from the movie, but certainly symbolic ones.)

I didn’t know, as I sat there with the credits rolling, just what kind-of-a-jerk things American Sniper was avoiding in its depiction of real-life Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. But the feeling that it dare not delve too deeply into the psyche of its subject is all over this tepid and surprisingly anticlimactic flick, and it left me wondering what sort of story director Clint Eastwood (Jersey Boys, J. Edgar) and screenwriter Jason Hall (Paranoia) and star and producer Bradley Cooper (Serena, Guardians of the Galaxy) thought they were telling. Or why they chose to tell Kyle’s story in the first place if the key bits of it were to be ignored.

In many literal ways, Sniper is a eulogy, for Kyle — supposedly the “deadliest sniper in U.S. military history” — is dead, far before his time, though he was not killed in post 9/11 Iraq, where he served for many years. If there is a noble part to Kyle’s story, it comes in how, after his four tours of duty, he decided to work with veterans coping with PTSD, perhaps as a way to deny that he himself was suffering from it (or to subconsciously cope with it himself). Kyle was murdered in early 2013 back home in Texas by one of the veterans he was trying to help. This — and pretty much the whole PTSD issue — is treated as a minor footnote inSniper’s tale.

Which is a shame. Because stories about how the fucked-up quagmire of post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan has left too many American (and British and other coalition) soldiers — who only thought they were serving their countries, the poor bastards — with long-term psychological (and physical) problems might be the best and fairest ones we Westerners can tell about our side of this idiotic war. And I suspect that maybe that’s what American Sniper is trying to do. Okay, see, the kind-of-a-jerk-shit about the real-life Kyle appears to be that he was basically a psychopath in a uniform, a guy who thought it was “fun” to kill “savages” in Iraq. (I only discovered this after I saw the film.) He appears not to be a guy who thought deeply — or, indeed, at all — about the job he was sent to do in a country his nation invaded on a trumped-up pretext because Yay! We have the biggest guns, and they have oil that should rightfully be ours.

In this movie, though, we get Cooper’s Kyle being awfully worried about whether he is going to have to shoot and kill the little Iraqi kid in his sights, the one who just picked up a rocket launcher. This would not, it seems, have actually bothered the real Kyle for a single instant.

Bradley Cooper’s take on Kyle is more nuanced than the man himself appears to have been. Or, perhaps, Cooper is trying to show us a man who doesn’t realize why he is so badly impacted by his experiences, precisely because he does not think about them, or does not know how to think about them. He is, after all, just a good ol’ boy from Texas whose father commended him, at age eight, for having a talent for putting a bullet into living things from far away. (This is a scene in the movie. And it will mess with a kid. Probably. Right?) Cooper is very good here, with vast oceans of confusing conflict playing across his face at the unlikeliest of times; his quiet despair when a veteran he doesn’t even know calls him a “hero” is heartbreaking.

Alas that Cooper is bringing more to the onscreen character of Kyle than is in the script, which is blithely unconcerned with exploring almost everything it is attempting to be about, no matter how Cooper tries to drag it back toward something substantial with his rooted, raw performance. Cooper brings more than Eastwood does, too: We have to wait till almost the very end for anything approaching a moment that is cinematically suspenseful; c’mon, we’re supposed to believe that Kyle is so addicted to battle that he re-ups four times but Eastwood can’t make us feel this until the final battle sequence? Finally, here, Eastwood give us something we haven’t seen before on film, urban combat that is already tense threatened by an approaching sandstorm that will obliterate any application of strategy. And we at last gain a visceral appreciation for both Kyle’s love of his work — it’s a terrifying love all about taunting danger and cheating death — and his anguish.

A movie like American Sniper is a challenge to me. It clearly blatantly misrepresents its subject, at least as far as how he saw himself, and makes him far more heroic than he deserves to be (but probably less than he would have liked). Yet I think it’s also trying — if also subsequently failing — to explain why he saw himself the way he did, if in a way that he probably wouldn’t even be able to acknowledge or approve of.

I could be wrong. Maybe, American Sniper really is just all Hey, sure, maybe Kyle was a little too suspicious of foreigners, and maybe he was a little too enamored of his guns, but the guy is dead now, right? So we can just let it slide, can’t we? America!

I don’t think we can let it slide, though. I wish this was a smarter analysis of just how bad a disservice we do to our soldiers when we take advantage of their patriotism and send them to do things no one should have to do. I wish it wasn’t such a banal, bland tribute to things no one questions as laudable — family, friendship, country — but only when Americans engage in them.

I think I see a movie not wanting to be so simplistic trying to bust out here, and simply not sure how to do it.

I could be wrong.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of American Sniper for its representation of girls and women.

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American Sniper (2014)
US/Can release: Dec 25 2014
UK/Ire release: Jan 16 2014

MPAA: rated R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references
BBFC: rated 15 (strong language, violence, threat)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • Aaron Jones

    I have to agree with you, and I wonder why you’re the first reviewer I’ve read who cites Kyle’s actual bio. Like you, I did not learn about him until after I’d seen the movie. Now I wonder why Eastwood picked this particular fellow and his story. Something disingenuous is going on, and I don’t like feeling that way about a movie which, as you’ve stated, is more nuanced than it’s subject, and presents us with laudable and almost inarguable questions and concepts.

  • JT

    It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. From this article I can easily deduce the type of person that wrote it.

  • If the review allows you to deduce what kind of person the reviewer is, and what they thought of the movie being the kind of person they are, then I reckon it’s done its job.

  • Meaning what?

  • Marine

    This is not a review of a movie. It’s a rant by an anti-American pedant who buys into such nonsense as the war-for-oil meme spawned by MSNBC. Stop the pretense of reviewing. Just write for moveon.org.

  • Danielm80

    When U.S. soldiers fight a war with no political purpose behind it, that causes no controversy of any kind, then someone can make a completely apolitical movie about it. If that happens, then reviewers can talk about nothing but the aesthetics of watching bullets fly into a human being. But even then, they’ll comment on how accurately the movie represents the events it’s supposed to be depicting. And they may even talk about their opinions, rather than pretending to be entirely free of bias or personal history, because every review is a personal opinion, and because they’re real people who live in the real world.

  • Matt Clayton

    The way you saw American Sniper, and the way it avoids hitting the gray areas of Kyle’s life (the more painful ones glossed over)… it reminds me of one episode from “The Street” where it tackles similar subject matter (a UK soldier returns home after being disfigured by an Afghanistan suicide bomber). But in “The Street” they show the ugly side and how it affects the soldier and his family psychologically and mentally.

    I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it’s episode 3.3 if you’re interested in checking it out.

  • out there

    Wow, great review. A thinking person’s review.

  • David

    Two things: one, most of the people Kyle killed probably were savages. Once the insurgency kicked into high gear most of them were foreign born Jihadists trying to establish a state ruled by Sharia. They succeeded in the summer of 2014 (largely because of the Syrian civil war) and we saw what that produced. A state-let which ruthlessly enforces the worst aspects of Shariah law and uses non-muslim women as sex slaves. Chris Kyle may seem unsophisticated to you but people like him were the ones trying to prevent the nightmare that came after the US pullout. Now, most people do agree that we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq in the first place but that doesn’t make what our troops tried to do there meaningless.

    Two, enough with this war for oil nonsense. History has clearly debunked the idea that we invaded Iraq for their oil. Allowing American companies to drill in Iraq was never a high priority and today most of the oil goes to China.

  • LOL.

  • Thanks. I’ll see if I can make time for it.

  • This movie is apolitical. So you’re first question doesn’t even make sense. But I cannot comment on how I would respond to a hypothetical movie.

    No, I did not support the invasion of Afghanistan. I figured America didn’t need another Vietnam. And, as it turns out, it did not.

    9/11 was not an act of war. It was a crime. It should have been investigated and prosecuted as such.

  • David

    Well you did like some right wing movies like the dark knight, Team America, and Serenity/Firefly; so there’s that.

    Your second comment is just silly. How does one investigate and prosecute people hiding in Afghanistan without going into Afghanistan?

  • Tonio Kruger

    With all due respect to MaryAnn and her excellent review, she’s not exactly the first reviewer to take that approach.


  • Tonio Kruger

    And some right-wingers liked left-wing movies like Wild, Snowpiercer and Edge of Tomorrow. Funny how that works out.

    Next up: People on both sides of the Second World War liked Beethoven. Will wonders never cease?

  • David

    What about you? You think Afghanistan was the “good” war or should we have just taken a defensive posture after 9/11?

  • David

    Also some guy named “guest” keeps upvoting me on my many disqus comments. I think he might be stalking me. What is upvoting anyway? Do I get some kind of prize if enough people do it?

  • LaSargenta

    Bragging rights, I think.

  • *Firefly* is right-wing? News to me.

    I am not debating Afghanistan.

  • Matt Clayton

    The episode is available for streaming at IMDB via Hulu. I don’t know if it’s on Netflix or Amazon Prime though.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Ten years ago, I have argued that Afghanistan was the “good” war. However, today I am not so sure. Among other things, we seem to be doing the same thing for Afghan Christians that we did for Iraqi Christians; i.e., we made their lives worse even though they’re the closest thing to potential allies we’re likely to have in that part of the world. Moreover, we are going more and more into debt to the Chinese — our former enemies — in order to pay for both Mideast wars.

    I have a hard time believing that these are good things and I have a harder time believing things will improve the longer we keep our troops over there. I would love to be proven wrong but since I’ve already getting most of my news of that war from conservative sources, that’s not likely.

    Anyway, the war in Afghanistan is hardly the most important issue in regard to this movie. After all, it was directed by a guy whose most famous movie — Unforgiven — was about a fictional Western gunslinger whose reality was shown to be much more complicated than his legend. Ironically, this current movie seems to be taking the opposite approach: taking a real-life character and distorting his life in order to turn him into a more acceptable fictional character. In short, it sounds a lot like a modern-day Bizarro version of Unforgiven.

    Of course, I could be wrong. But it would be nice to hear an argument to the contrary that involves the actual movie and not the politics surrounding it.

  • Tonio Kruger

    In John Moe’s book Conservatize Me, he argued that Serenity — and by extention, Firefly — were right-wing because both were very popular with conservatives. Of course, it is difficult to think of few sci-fi movies and shows that aren’t popular on both sides of the political aisle — for example, a lot of conservatives and liberals liked the recent reboot of Battlestar: Galactica and John Nolte of the Big Hollywood site gave a rave review to Edge of Tomorrow, a movie that got considerable praise on this site. Moreover, John Moe made a similar argument in regard to the “conservatism” of the 1985 movie Brazil, an argument which seems funny if you’re old enough to remember when that movie’s most positive review was written by that notorious right-winger Harlan Ellison.

    Oh, well. The more things change…

  • Bluejay

    Luke: “What’s in there?”

    Yoda: “Only what you take with you.”

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Upvoteses are my precioussssssssssss

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    RE: the conservatism of Brazil: that argument would seem funny to anyone who’s seen Brazil

  • S.M. Stirling

    War is any act of organized violence with the intent of political coercion. Hence, it was war.

  • I figure war is between nations, not one nation and one gang.

  • Beowulf

    I was disturbed by the trailer and haven’t seen the movie.
    So, I need to ask a huge SPOILER QUESTION
    He doesn’t shoot the little boy…or does he?


    No, but he shoots and kills another one who is about to throw a grenade at US troops.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    “War” is a nebulous enough concept that it can be defined and redefined to fit the needs of anyone’s philosophical position. For instance, the restriction to states is legit, but you can also expand to include non-state actors like Al Queda or ISIS (and then assert that such entities are influential enough for them to rise to the level of NSAs capable of waging war). Mr. Stirling’s requirement of “political coercion” is also optional. (And kind of non sequitar; it’s easy to see how the U.S. wanted in to politically influence Afghanistan and Iraq, but what policy changes were we looking for from Al Queda?)

  • Radek Piskorski

    Is Eastwood turning out to be an American Riefenstahl?

  • Radek Piskorski

    Definitely LOL.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Psh, hardly.

  • RobertP

    Moreover, we are going more and more into debt to the Chinese — our former enemies — in order to pay for both Mideast wars.

    I’ve heard it postulated that this is the true purpose of the Mideast wars – to bankrupt the US, as part of the One World Order plan.

  • RobertP

    Curious what you see as the true purpose of the Mideast wars?

  • David

    I find this movie interesting because while it doesn’t defend the Iraq war itself it does present our troops in a positive light and it has made a great deal of money. I think that Americans are tired of all the leftwing movies presenting American soldiers as either heartless psychopaths or poor souls duped into giving their lives for no good reason just because they were too poor or stupid to know better. This movie has been very successful while movies like Lions for Lambs, Grace is Gone, Redacted, Green Zone, Stop-Loss, Home of the Brave, In the Valley of Elah,

    Harsh Times, Battle for Haditha, etc. have all bombed and yet we kept getting them. Clearly strongly anti-Iraq War films were a losing proposition at the box office but they still kept coming which seems to be clear evidence for Hollywood’s ideological agenda.

  • David

    As it happens Republicans love Firefly. It’s the story of an independent businessman trying to make a living in a universe dominated by an evil authoritarian government that over regulates and taxes everything to the point that the hero is able to make money smuggling cattle. The Alliance is perfect distillation of what’s wrong with big government: They oppress the people, take away their rights at will, strangle small business, cover-up large scale murders, and tightly regulate people on a personal level, but they can’t end poverty, fight organized crime, or bring basic healthcare to most of the people on the rim. In Serenity Mal fights a man who’s willing to kill in the name of bringing a perfect order to the lives of everyone. Not to mention the whole Miranda situation which could be easily seen as an allegory for Mao’s great leap forward.

  • David

    Haven’t seen wild or snowpiercer. How’s Edge of Tomorrow left wing? I did like V for Vendetta even though I think it’s politics are total bullshit

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I don’t see how people could be “tired” of movies that, by your reckoning, they didn’t actually see.

  • A big opening weekend is not a sign of approval. It’s a sign that the marketing worked well. If the movie plays well for many weeks, that’s more likely to be a sign of approval.

    If you *are correct, it does not reflect well on the American people that we appear to approve so heartily of invading another sovereign nation under false pretenses. And would Americans approve of a depiction of Chris Kyle — as a man who thought it was “fun” to kill Iraqi “savages” — as he really was, which is *not* what this film does?

  • Bluejay

    Suuure, Republicans are all about limited government and maximum individual liberty — that is, except for when they’re prosecuting two wars, creating the Department of Homeland Security, enacting the Patriot Act, supporting Bush-era policies on torture and domestic surveillance, imposing No Child Left Behind, supporting Obamacare-style health reform as long as it’s not called “Obamacare,” enacting new voter ID laws, and trying to regulate what women can do with their pregnancies and which people shouldn’t be allowed to marry. (Not to mention when they’re creating the Environmental Protection Agency, building the interstate highway system, setting aside commerce-free land for the first national parks, and “interfering” with how the South ran its Peculiar Institution.)

    Let’s not kid ourselves: People of ALL political stripes have no problem with big government as long as that government abides by THEIR vision and principles.

    But more to the point: Firefly and Serenity were both released during the heyday of a Republican Administration. It could just as easily have appealed to liberals as an allegory about resisting an authoritarian government run by people they didn’t like. :-)

  • Danielm80

    Joss Whedon is about as non-Republican as a human being gets. But very few of the films mentioned on this thread can be reduced to a simple political message, for either party, and I would like them less if they could.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    So, apparently Seth Rogan finds the film to be propagandist (which is a bit much, but he’s not know for subtlety). Meanwhile, a bunch of country music stars are using that as an opportunity to beef up their Real Amurican™ cred by getting their undies in a bunch over Rogan. And all this is happening over Twitter, that great communication tool. *sigh*

  • RogerBW

    Modern Country Music: it’s not quite Modern Christian Music, but it’s still a small pond where it’s easy to be a big fish by saying the right things.
    Twitterstorms are much easier than thinking.

  • David

    Individualism, limited government, and free trade are conservative ideals. Sometimes Republican politicians don’t live up to those ideals.

  • David

    Two things: one, Most of the people Kyle killed probably were savages. Once the insurgency kicked into high gear most of them were foreign born Jihadists trying to establish a state ruled by Sharia. They succeeded in the summer of 2014 (largely because of the Syrian civil war) and
    we saw what that produced. A state-let which ruthlessly enforces the worst aspects of Shariah law and uses non-muslim women as sex slaves. Chris Kyle may seem unsophisticated to you but people like him were the ones trying to prevent the nightmare that came after the US pullout. Now, most people do agree that we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq in the first place but that doesn’t make what our troops tried to do there meaningless.

  • David

    Because they had already seen 3 Kings, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Casualties of War, etc. People can be tired of films of any genre that is over saturated. Some people are tired of superhero movies even though they haven’t seen most of them.

  • Danielm80

    You think it’s just politicians who contradict themselves? It extends through the entire party, and not only on the right.

    From The West Wing:

    Sam: You know, you insist that government is depraved for not legislating against what we can see on the newsstands, or what we can see in an art exhibit, or what we can burn in protest, or which sex we’re allowed to have sex with, or a woman’s right to choose. But don’t you dare try to regulate this deadly weapon I have concealed on me, for that would encroach against my freedom.

    Ainsley: Yeah, and Democrats believe in free speech as long as it isn’t prayer while you’re standing in school. You believe in the Freedom of Information Act, except if you want to find out if your 14-year-old daughter has had an abortion.

    A movie is hardly ever a political treatise (even when it’s written by Aaron Sorkin). Firefly and Serenity are about resisting authority, and just about everyone hates somebody in authority. As Bluejay pointed out, people watching the movie can picture whichever authority they happen to oppose.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    FFS, do you have any concept of the passage of time? The most recent film on your first list was Green Zone from 2010, 5 years ago. You new list starts in 1999, and has 10 year gaps between them. Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter are war movies from a generation ago. Casualties of War was one of the last Vietnam War films (and at the time, people wondered why DePalma going back to that well), while Three Kings was about the first Gulf War, and told nearly a decade after the fact. And neither Casualties nor Kings was any more successful than than you list of anti-Iraq/Afghanistan war films (though Three Kings better received critically than just about any of the more recent films). In short, you’ve yet to even name an anti-war movie from less than 35 years ago that anyone has seen, let alone to bolster your “tired of” claim. Seriously, this reactionary “Hollywood vs ‘Real’ America” bullshit is just tiresome.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Y’know, just ’cause the Islamic State calls itself a “state” doesn’t make it so. The Syrian civil war was not the result of US draw downs in Iraq (and if we’d not drawn down, ISIS would just be killing Americans, too). Chris Kyle was many things, but a long-term political analyst is not one of them. The search for meaning in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars will be ongoing, and never really settled. And you, sir, are a racist turd, and I’m sorry I ever even deigned to engage with you.

  • LaSargenta

    Uh, I saw all the ones that are on the list and <35 y.o.

    On the other hand, I suppose I should be happy he didn't bring up Kelly's Heroes or Cold Mountain…reaching back to even older conflicts!

  • David

    You know there’s this thing called “TV” right? I had seen most of those movies on TBS and TNT as a kid.

  • David

    Does anybody actually take the accusation of “racism” seriously anymore? LOL. At this point the only thing that being accused of racism means is that you said something a liberal disagreed with.

  • Danielm80

    It’s interesting to watch all the contortions people go through to prove they’re not bigots:

    “I’m not anti-Muslim. All the savages in Iraq and Afghanistan just happen to be Muslim.”

    “I’m not anti-Islam. I just don’t think there should be a mosque at Ground Zero.”

    “The police aren’t racist. There are just a lot of African-American thugs in Ferguson.”

    And I’m guessing you will now prove my point by using the same sort of logic to attack my argument. That’s why I take accusations of racism seriously: because there’s so much of it, and because people find it so easy to dismiss.

  • Bluejay

    “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I *do*, that defines me.” — Batman

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Dear David,
    Life’s too short.
    Go cry to your friends about how mean the mean ol’ liberals are being to you.

  • Danielm80

    It’s a clever strategy. He can dismiss everything liberals say by claiming that liberals dismiss everything conservatives say.

    “Clever” may be the wrong word. I think I mean “martyr complex.”

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Well, by “anyone” I meant “everyone”. And by that I meant, “movie that was a financial success”.

    I’m starting to suspect David is messing up his Big Hollywood cue cards (or he just doesn’t understand them).

  • David

    Why would I cry? This is fun! :)

  • David

    I don’t have to prove I’m not a bigot. The burden of proof is on the accuser not the accused.

    The reason people dismiss claims of racism is because liberals love to use that word with people they disagree with.

    You oppose Obama’s policies? You’re a racist! (Remember when dissent was patriotic? Now it’s racist)

    You oppose affirmative action? You’re a racist!

    You want America to actually control it’s borders? You’re a racist!

    You think Radical Islam poses a grave threat to humanity? You’re a racist! What’s that, Islam isn’t a race? You’re a racist for saying that!

    At this point it’s kind of a big joke.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I can think of lots of reasons why Edge of Tomorrow can be considered left-wing ranging from its downbeat opening setting to its unconventional female lead character. (Plus there was the fact that MaryAnn liked it.) But the most obvious reason would be its decision to make its male protagonist a professional patriot who was not only a phony but initially a coward to boot — a move which was especially interesting, given what it implied about certain real-life professional patriots.

    Of course, there was a lot for conservatives to like in that movie as well, which is why I was surprised to hear about how poorly it did at the box office. It wasn’t like any of the people I saw this movie with appeared to be having a bad time watching it so I suspect that the movie’s downbeat premise and the fact that Tom Cruise wasn’t playing a conventional hero scared off a lot of movie-goers.

    As for V for Vendetta, I was not happy with that film either. I liked the original graphic novel much better than the movie and while I was a bit amused to see how much the movie cribbed from a certain Sally Field movie toward the end, I did not care for the movie itself all that much.

  • Liam Joyce

    I needed to read a female perspective on this film as when it comes to war films, I tire of patriotism and machismo colouring the review. I haven’t seen the film, but imagined it to be as this review sadly highlights. Think I’ll sit this one out.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Hearing Seth Rogan complaining about propaganda in the wake of The Interview is a lot like hearing John Nolte complain about the racism of Amy Pascal in the wake of all the minority-baiting he tolerates in the comments section of his own site. I know I should try to take it seriously but for some reason, I seem to be doing well just refraining from the otherwise inevitable Captain Renault references.

  • Tonio Kruger

    As the son of a Reagan Democrat, I’m no big fan of the conservative = racist meme myself.

    But it does seem a bit disingenuous to ignore the fact that a lot of minority-baiting occurs on certain conservative sites like TakiMag and Big Hollywood and quoting Peter Brimelow over and over again is not going to make that fact go away.

    It seems especially disingenuous to do so at the same time certain conservatives like John Nolte have chosen to draw attention to the racism of an Amy Pascal.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Them’s some inside baseball references there, my friend. I applaud you!

    I would consider that Rogan might be trolling, as he does seem to be the satirical brains of the Franco-Rogan partnership, but then again, the Franco-Rogan partnership.

  • Bluejay

    Straw-man much? As if liberals never disagree with Obama, or don’t think border security is at all important, or dismiss the threat of Islamist extremism. Hogwash. But there’s a way of talking about these issues without making sweeping negative generalizations about whole groups of people — not to mention without calling the president “Odumbo” or “Obola” or “the affirmative action president” — and a large number of conservative pundits and online commenters don’t seem to know where to draw that line.

    Are some liberals being kneejerk when they accuse conservatives of racism? Maybe. But a lot of conservatives are making it reeeeally easy.

    Remember when dissent was patriotic?

    Would this have been around the time conservatives were calling liberal dissenters disloyal and un-American? Yeah, I remember.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    “Remember when dissent was patriotic?”

    I have our new friend blocked (and I’m ignoring the snippets on the Recent Posts page). Did he really ask that??

    Then again, I suspect that he may be less than 25 years old, maybe even a teenager, so he might literally not remember when his “side” decided it wasn’t.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    V for Vendetta isn’t really on the left-right political spectrum. Rather it should be viewed on the orthogonal authoritarian-libertarian axis. It’s still a simplistic model, since most people and organizations tend not to sit in a particular quadrant but rather have views on various subjects scattershot the field.

  • 82ATW


  • David

    First, it’s not strawman I’ve actually heard variations on those statements. For example, I was called a racist for referring to men who like to kidnap women and use them as sex slaves as “savages”. Second, “dissent is patriotic” was a slogan frequently used by people who refer to Obama’s opponents as racists. Third, broad generalizations are a necessity when talking about the political situations involving millions of people. For example, the following statement, “generally speaking, whenever you put a large group of Muslims next to a large group of non-muslims, the Muslims usually end up making war on the non-Muslims,” is correct because it is backed up by historical evidence.

  • David

    You are correct, there is a thread of racism that goes through the conservative movement. There is also racism that goes through the liberal/leftwing movement. Conservatives who are racist tend to be very direct. Racists on the left tend to engage in the more indirect “racism of low expectations.”

  • David

    Most conservatives don’t have problems with female leads. As for the whole idea of a brash talking army major being a coward, maybe some conservatives who have an overly idealized vision of the military would be offended but those of us who are veterans are well aware that their are shitbags in the army. What was the Sally Field movie?

  • Bluejay

    broad generalizations are a necessity when talking about the political situations involving millions of people.

    No. Broad generalizations oversimplify the situation, and only foster misunderstanding.

    For example, the following statement, “generally speaking, whenever you put a large group of Muslims next to a large group of non-muslims, the Muslims usually end up making war on the non-Muslims,” is correct because it is backed up by historical evidence.

    That statement places the blame entirely on Muslims, because of their Muslim identity (ignoring any other historical and socio-political reasons for violence), and holds the entire Muslim community responsible (ignoring the many Muslim voices advocating for peace and the billions of Muslims living IN peace). It is not useful to any discussion of the situation. And it is indeed racist. If you can’t recognize that, I can’t help you.

  • David

    You can’t speak about politics in any coherent way without generalizing.

  • Bluejay

    Interesting how you support generalizations now, but just a few comments ago you were totally against the generalization that conservatives tend to be racist. Perhaps it’s easier to generalize about others, but when it comes to others generalizing about YOUR “side,” then nuance and complexity become important?

    It may be necessary to generalize, but it’s equally necessary to examine the assumptions inherent in your generalizations.

  • Tonio Kruger

    The Sally Field movie was Places in the Heart.

  • David

    I oppose that generalization about conservatives because it is WRONG.

  • Bluejay

    And so is your generalization about Muslims.

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