“American Sniper” encourages Islamophobia

Courtesy of Catholicvote.org

“Nice to see a movie where the Arabs are portrayed for who they really are — vermin scum intent on destroying us,” said a Twitter user, as quoted by The Guardian.

The film “American Sniper,” currently sweeping American box offices, has gained wide critical acclaim since its release on Jan. 16.

The movie has amassed a large number of supporters, including Michelle Obama, as well as six Oscar nominations. But, it also ignores negative aspects of the main character, Chris Kyle, and makes him into an undeserving hero.

Concerns have noticeably arisen from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, who claim that since the release of the film there has been a significant increase in threats towards Muslim and Arab citizens.

“We are in receipt of hundreds of violent messages targeting Arabs and Muslims from moviegoers of the film,” wrote the committee in a letter to both the film’s director, Clint Eastwood, and its star, Bradley Cooper.

The worries of the civil rights group seem justified when you consider the opinion Kyle expressed towards Iraq citizens in his book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.”

“Savage, despicable evil,” said Kyle in his book. “That’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy ‘savages.’

“There really was no other way to describe what we encountered there. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives.”

Kyle’s sentiments towards Iraqi citizens may have been heavily influenced by his war experiences. However, by making a hero out of Kyle, the film has exposed thousands of American moviegoers to Kyle’s opinion of Arab and Muslim citizens. This has encouraged many to post alarming and threatening messages on social media reflecting on their own interpretation of the movie.

“It must be clearly noted that Hollywood glorifies violence,” said Visiting Professor of Religious Studies Betsy Mesard. “That’s what Hollywood does.

“And, the film industry has a long history of producing white male heroes who confront enemies depicted as subhuman, and these enemy figures are all too often Arab and/or Muslim.”

What these moviegoers do not see in “American Sniper” is one of the most prevalent flaws in Kyle’s character.

Kyle had been known to tell tales of his time at home, during which he claims to have sniped armed looters from the roof of the Superdome following Katrina. He also claims to have shot and killed two carjackers at a Texas gas station and that he was released with no charges by police.

Both statements have been discredited by county sheriffs and fellow SEALs.

Sophomore Jeff Brahey said he has only heard great things of the film and hopes to see it soon. This frame of mind is clearly shared by many Americans, as the ticket sales remain impressive.

As to how this will impact Muslim and Arab Americans, only time will tell.