The Corner

Snipers and Ignorance

Saving Private Ryan fits perfectly Michael Moore’s critique of American snipers — making it a movie that should have outraged Michael Moore. 

In the movie, Private Daniel Jackson (cf. Moore’s “snipers were cowards”) was both a sniper and an invader (“And invaders r worse”), and like Chris Kyle seemed to blend biblical scripture in with the job. 

But then a chastised Moore clarified his incoherence with, “But if you’re on the roof of your home defending it from invaders who’ve come 7K miles, you are not a sniper, u are brave, u are a neighbor.”

So I suppose what Moore really meant to write was that his earlier critique did not extend to soldiers like the thousands of German snipers who picked off GIs who had come from thousands of miles away to invade Europe in efforts to reach the German fatherland. 

Or maybe Moore was implying that the Japanese sniper who, according to Moore, shot and killed his uncle was actually a brave neighbor defending an Asian community in the Co-prosperity Sphere from American invaders like Moore’s uncle who had travelled thousands of miles to invade it.

In truth, the modern American sniper like Kyle is somewhat different from those portrayed in films like Enemy at the Gates or their predecessors in earlier wars. They usually do not shoot so-called enemies bathing or eating who are in non-combatant activities, largely because they are increasingly used against non-uniformed enemies who must be judged about to harm U.S. forces (i.e., not necessarily someone sitting distant from the fighting in a cafe with an AK-47 nearby on the ground). 

Much closer to the looser rules of engagement of the traditional sniper is the U.S. drone, which blows up targets regardless of their current activity (e.g., sleeping in their homes when the missile arrives) — on the premise that they are likely enemy terrorists who at some future date may harm U.S. interests. If Moore were really worried that popular culture too lightly accepts such targeting, perhaps he would do better to post instead his outrage that the president of the United States once joked — to laughs from the media corps — about using such predator drones against any would-be suitors of his daughters.

Moore’s ignorance hit bottom when he then again tried to clarify his ignorance by de facto comparing military snipers to the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr., confusing a tool such as a scoped rifle with the status and objectives of its user. 

Snipers are warriors in combat zones who are used to protect their fellow soldiers by hitting enemies that only they can see before they strike; assassins are civilian murderers who use the sniper’s tools to kill at a distance — not to protect their own from an armed foe, but to ensure that they can flee the scene once their murdering of an unarmed civilian victim is completed.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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