Gun control? Start with the Navy SEALS


Death of mass murderer Chris Kyle exposes media hypocrisy

Chris Kyle: racist mass murderer
The New York Times and Washington Post, the establishment papers of record, have generated a great deal of goodwill in liberal circles in recent months with their vocal support for new gun control measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. It is time to stand up to dogmatists like the NRA, these paragons of our democracy argue, and enact common sense measures to regulate the availability of particularly deadly weapons and keep firearms out of the hands of maniacs. Except, of course, in circumstances where the people dying are targets of U.S. imperialism.
On Feb. 2, Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper is U.S. history, was killed by fellow veteran Eddie Ray Routh at a shooting range in Texas. Routh was dealing with emotional trauma from his deployments in Iraq and Haiti, and Kyle was providing informal counseling to the troubled Marine.
This was an abrupt end to a life spent assassinating opponents of imperialism. The “author” of the bestselling book “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” Kyle had 255 confirmed kills over his 10-year career in the elite Navy SEALs. He served primarily in Iraq, where he was nicknamed by anti-occupation resistance fighters “The Devil of Ramadi.”
Both the New York Times and Washington Post published glowing obituaries, praising his modesty and commitment to helping veterans in addition to his military prowess. The Washington Post fawned over “Mr. Kyle’s steady nerve, his patience for stalking and his pinpoint marksmanship through his rifle scope [that] earned him two awards of the Silver Star and five awards of the Bronze Star” (Feb. 3). The New York Times quoted Kyle’s friend and fellow sniper Travis Cox approvingly when he gushed, “He [Chris Kyle] served this country with extreme honor, but came home and was a servant leader in helping his brothers and sisters dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder” (Feb. 3).
This contrasts sharply with the two papers’ editorial stance in the wake of Sandy Hook and the ensuing debate on gun control. In a Dec. 14, 2012 editorial, the Washington Post asserted “the country would be safer with fewer guns, that mass killings are more difficult with knives, that it is not the Second Amendment but political cowardice that precludes sensible regulation”. On Feb. 2, the New York Times added: “in states that required a background check for every handgun sale, women were killed by intimate partners at a much lower rate … The idea that guns are essential to home defense and women’s safety is a myth. It should not be allowed to block the new gun controls that the country so obviously needs”. In the wake of the tragic elementary school massacre in Newtown, these world-renowned publications postured as voices of reason above the fray of partisan hyperbole.
But the carnage inflicted by Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza pales in comparison with Chris Kyle’s gruesome record. As a sniper, Kyle served as judge, jury and executioner with free range to kill with impunity. His first victim was an Iraqi woman walking with her child. According to Kyle, the woman pulled out a hand grenade and was about to attack a group of Marines. Of course the accuracy of this account relies solely on the honesty of this zealous patriot—who was participating in an occupation where the massacre of civilians was a common practice.
And the rest is history. “After the first kill, the others come easy,” Kyle wrote in his autobiography. Perhaps Adam Lanza or Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine infamy shared the same initial hesitation. But because Kyle killed in the service of imperialism, this parallel is lost on the New York Times and Washington Post—that his victims were not white also likely helped the editors of these papers of record reconcile this contradiction.
The Times and The Post are firm advocates of mandatory background checks on people attempting purchase firearms, a precaution they hope will keep guns out of the hands of “dangerous” people. Shouldn’t such a measure be used to bar delusional racists from acquiring weapons?
Kyle was explicit about his belief in the inferiority of his victims, who he referred to as “savages.” He reflected on his first kill years later when he wrote that “My shots saved several Americans, whose lives were clearly worth more than that woman’s twisted soul.”
Chris Kyle’s most famous kill was made from an astonishing distance of 2,100 yards. A Christian zealot, he would later tell the New York Post that “God blew that bullet and hit him [the resistance fighter].” Kyle was entitled to his personal spiritual beliefs, but by claiming that God helped him kill people he clearly crossed the threshold into dangerous religious fanaticism.
Kyle was also prone to violent outbreaks against those who he considered to be not sufficiently jingoistic. Even right-wing populist Jesse Ventura did not measure up. Kyle assaulted Ventura in 2006 in a bar because he “was bad-mouthing the war, bad-mouthing Bush, bad-mouthing America”.
The New York Times and Washington Post’s background checks would deprive countless Black and Latino youths caught up in the prison-industrial complex of their right to bear arms, but certainly would not have affected Chris Kyle.
Gun violence is a serious issue that many poor and working people are rightly concerned with, but the big-business media imposes strict limitations on this important discussion. Even the crimes of individual homicidal maniacs like Chris Kyle are eclipsed by the death and suffering caused by institutions like the Pentagon or racist police forces. These are essential elements of the gun control debate that the Washington Post and New York Times are unlikely to ever mention. In the heartland of world imperialism, the question of violence must be viewed in its totality.

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