Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"I'm not only gonna kill him, but I'm gonna kill his wife, all his friends, and burn his damn house down"

Clint Eastwood, actor, director, sometime crooner of country ballads and most recently, ground zero for the controversy surrounding the life US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.  Unless you've been living under a rock, your pretty much know that "American Sniper" is the highest grossing movie out right now and has caused a furor over the depiction of Kyle's time as a sniper in Iraq.  The movie is based on Kyle's own autobiography and portrays in unflinching realism how the deadliest sniper in the US military was an unapologetic, efficient killer that had no use for the Muslims he hunted.  Conservatives are gushing over his actions, liberals equate his actions tantamount to "coward" (Michael Moore) to "Nazi propaganda" (Seth Rogen).

Should we equate killing of the enemy to heroism (something that has been down since ancient times) or should we be repulsed by a country able to produce such an efficient killer with no remorse for his skills?  I started to write an essay reflecting on this but things have shift as tends to happen when one writes about current events.

Clint Eastwood has no come back into the news for another movie he made back in 1992.  The movie of course was "Unforgiven", the story of agin gunfighter William Muny who is reluctantly draw out of retirement for one last job.  Eastwood wanted "Unforgiven" to be his final Western and to show what life would be like for the characters that had made him famous in the Serigo Leone Westerns as well as his own productions such as "Josey Wales" and "Pale Rider".  Eastwood had felt those movies had glamorized violence without truly showing the consequences, especially to the protagonist.  "Unfogiven" was to be his penance.

But as tends to happen, once an actor of Eastwoods status establishes an archetype, it is difficult to go against type.  Eastwood portrayed Muny with all of his worts, hardly able to mount a horse, and actively avoiding any more killing after having taken so many lives.  Ask anyone though who has seen the movie and they aren't going to wax about the way Eastwood portrayed to aging Muny, no I'm afraid what people remember is this scene.  Muny becomes the killer he once was again to avenge the brutal murder of his partner at the hands of a sadistic sheriff.  After killing the sheriff and his henchman, Muny tries to leave the saloon but knows others are outside waiting for him.  Eastwood then delivers a line which even if you haven't seen the movie, have probably seen in the headlines today.

"All right, I'm coming out. Any man I see out there, I'm gonna shoot him. Any sumbitch takes a shot at me, I'm not only gonna kill him, but I'm gonna kill his wife, all his friends, and burn his damn house down."  (Eastwood as William Muny, Unforgiven)

Now this line and Eastwood have been re-remembered as the battle cry of Jordan's King Abdullah II according to Congressman Duncan Hunter from California (Daily Mail).  King Abdullah's reaction is to the latest horrifying, vile act of violence by Daesh by setting a downed Jordanian pilot on fire and burning him to death on video.  By invoking Eastwood's famous character, Abdullah may be the only world leader that truly gets what its going to take to deal with Daesh.

Daesh has been using beheadings to inflict horror and terror into the minds of Western leaders but when that did not generate the necessary fear, the terrorists have upped the ante by turning to the barbaric custom of burning one's enemy alive.  If this had been an American or even a European pilot, I doubt any of those leaders would have reacted with such raw emotion (much less using a quote from Clint Eastwood).  I take the King at his word and do believe Daesh may have just unleashed hell upon themselves.

Perhaps this will also cause those too quick to criticize and label Chris Kyle as some type of abhorrent, racist monster to see Kyle and those like Kyle are exactly the kind of men you need to send in to deal with Daesh.  Every single one of those blood-thirst pyromaniacs that set fire to that pilot need to be shot, not bombed.  Why?  Because they only thing terrorists understand is terror.  Seeing their colleagues dispatched by a single round will give them many sleepless nights and in turn their fear may give a little comfort to the families of the victims.

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