Killing people does not make you a hero. nor does it necessarily make you a defender of freedom
America has a cult obsession with the military. Specifically, there is a cult-like hero worship of American soldiers, which I find rather disturbing. Many people will find this statement controversial, but not all Americans who serve in the military are heroes. In fact, most of them are not “heroes,” they are flawed people like myself who do not deserve special respect simply because they wear a uniform.
The Chris Kyle/American Sniper issue has been circulating on my news feeds lately. Whenever I read an article about those who disagree with Chris Kyle’s message or the new film American Sniper, they are littered with comments from Americans who foam at the mouth over any criticism of the military or any perceived lack of respect. Seth Rogen has been blasted with comments I wouldn’t want to read here, as has Michael Moore.
The attitude and responses I have read are just outright ridiculous and it always boils down to two general arguments. It is either, “You’ve never served before, so you have no right to say anything” or “Those troops died so you could have the freedom to be the ass-hat you are, show some respect.” American militarism never ceases to be so cartoonish.
I will state outright that my problem with American military culture is the inherent infallibility it is granted. This is especially true of the soldiers. You can never be “against” the troops (whatever the hell that means). I’ve heard it all before;
“You have to support the troops! You can be against the wars, but you have to support the troops!”
Well, no. I don’t have to support the troops, at least not in the military’s current state of operation. I can’t drive this point enough: America’s military is an arm of imperial adventure. The American Army has done nothing but wage wars in foreign countries, in order to preserve or advance American power.
Sure, the Army and Service Branches have taken part in humanitarian aid before. As true as this is, remember that the American military also acts as a tool for American power and more often or not this has bad repercussions for the countries we target.
Iraq (perhaps the strongest example) is by-far not the only issue. Obviously the American Army hasn’t done much for Afghanistan in over a decade. The US has sent troops into sovereign nations for many generations, and today this still rings true.
Essentially, I am told I have to respect the military and its servicemen because “they fight for your freedom,” yet I am never allowed to exercise this freedom in any fashion. I don’t have to respect the military, or the soldiers in it.
For one, the military isn’t fighting for “my freedom” any more than Rush Limbaugh advocates against OxyContin. The Army has been used as a tool to fight in two disastrous wars within the last decade alone, wasting trillions, hundreds of thousands of lives, and has spread chaos and devastation across where it intervenes. This doesn’t sound like the actions of heroes.
Now, specifically about Chris “American Sniper” Kyle, it is just crazy that I would encounter people who scream from the rooftop, “He’s a hero! An American Legend!” I am serious. American Legend? Hero, okay whatever. But, a Legend? Really?
Apparently what makes Kyle the hero and legend is that he killed over 160 “enemy combatants”, won many service medals and honors, and gave cover for “his buddies” in the field. The field of course being Iraq, a country we illegally invaded.
So, let me get this straight: We invade a country by the use of our Army. I am told I don’t have to support the illegal war, just the soldiers who are propagating this illegal war. In essence, you have to support the troops despite the war, which ultimately means you wind up supporting the war effort.
Let me be clear: I do not think Kyle was a hero. Not even close. I don’t think the majority of American soldiers today are heroes. Of course this depends on the individual cases, and in no way will I say that no soldier or ex-soldier can be a hero for the country. I just don’t think fighting an illegal war, and bragging about killing the “enemy” in the illegal war makes you a hero. So he saved his fellow soldiers, which was his obligation. You don’t become a hero by doing your job.
You don’t by definition become a hero in America just because you enlist, or even if you fought in combat. I can’t call veterans of Iraq heroes, because I don’t believe fighting an illegal and disastrous war is respectable. I know this will offend many currently serving, but I am not proud of America’s empire building. I can’t respect an institution that is used to build empire, or those who choose to help build it.
I understand this will not be totally popular, but it is how I feel. I do not think servicemen are by definition heroes, nor do I respect the institution they serve. Yes, I am not a service member past or present. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to state what I feel, especially when the people I am criticizing fight for my right to say it.
If you want to support the troops, increase their salaries, VA care, and most importantly: Bring them home. You know how I support the troops? By not wanting them to die and kill in senseless wars.
I can’t tell you what a hero is, because I’m not a hero. All I know is that gaining a career by killing people in a foreign land over wars that have no impact on your freedom or life whatsoever, does not make you a hero.