One of the ways in which humans wrestle with the existence of evil is by hoping that the evil doer gets his or her just desserts.
This hope is expressed with expressions such as “what goes around comes around” or “you reap what you sow.”
Despite all of this wishful thinking, it is rare for cosmic justice to be served as completely as it was in the case of the late Chris Kyle. Kyle was a Navy SEAL sniper in Iraq who served five tours of duty and by his own estimate killed 150 people. This week Kyle was himself shot to death and by another veteran no less.
Kyle should have lived in ignominy for taking so many lives, but instead he was decorated with medals and became a celebrity as a result of what should have been prosecuted crimes. Kyle wrote a best selling book, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in American History. He had a starring role in a NBC reality show, Stars Earn Stripes, a disgraceful ode to militarism and empire. He and another veteran met their end in an ill-advised effort to treat a former marine suffering from PTSD. Kyle was good at killing but he wasn’t much of a mental health professional. He used a shooting range as a venue to treat other vets having difficulty adjusting to civilian life. Let’s just say it didn’t work out very well.
The United States government committed a terrible crime when it invaded Iraq nearly ten years ago. Estimates of the number of Iraqis killed range from 150,000 to over 1 million. Like human beings throughout human history, Iraqis didn’t take kindly to being occupied and they fought back as best they could. The media may call them terrorists or insurgents, but Iraqis have as much right to defend themselves and their country as anyone else in the world and Kyle had no right to kill any of them.
Obviously he didn’t see it that way. He felt justified and quite moral in killing so many people and he did it in typical American fashion. In a Fox news interview, Kyle declared that Iraqis were not really human beings and thus had lost any right to stay alive.
“I considered the people I was killing to be savages because of the violence they committed against American troops, the beheadings, the rapes of innocent villagers. They lived by putting fear into other people’s hearts and civilized people don’t act that way. I wasn’t so much committed to killing them as I was committed to making sure that every service member over there, whether American or allied, came home – I was killing them to protect my fellow Americans. You have to get into the mentality and you can not think of them as human beings.”
Don’t think of them as human beings. That is the long standing clarion call of white supremacy, manifest destiny and imperial delusion. America has long accepted decidedly uncivilized behavior as being morally superior, even when it obviously isn’t.
American troops were guilty of raping their fellow soldiers and Iraqi prisoners and other civilians too. As for beheadings it should be pointed out that humans are decapitated by bombs and bullets. All of the allegations Kyle made against Iraqis can be laid at America’s door step too. Civilization is definitely in the eye of the beholder.
The people who plan the wars don’t suffer.
George W. Bush and Tony Blair went on to make millions of dollars giving corporate speeches and Blair even has the gall to present himself as a religious leader of sorts.
The Iraqi victims and the soldiers maimed or killed or suffering from PTSD pay the real price for the wrong doing planned from on high.
Kyle is survived by a wife and young children who are no doubt grieving, but the same is surely true of his 150 victims. They left family behind. Children are fatherless or motherless or homeless because of the “civilized” United States. It is tragic for all of these people to have suffered so much but until they can be seen as civilized human beings, there will be no end to American slaughter.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com