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Manfull: In defense of snipers

BY ERIN MANFULL | JANUARY 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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Everybody has a hero. As little kids, heroes jumped out of comic books and chased away the bad guys. As we grew up, our heroes began to morph from spandex-clad men and women fighting street crime to more tangible people.

For me, my heroes took a drastic path change from Lisa Leslie (when I wanted nothing more than to be the next WNBA star) to the Spice Girls to, finally and most logically, my parents. They come in all shapes and sizes, and no one can tell you who to idolize or emulate. However, there are some people who universally deserve the title of hero — those who put their own lives in the line of fire to keep people they’ve never met, safe.

War is controversial; there’s nothing easy or likeable in the act of nations erupting in violence. But, there’s something to say about those who defend the nation they come from.

This past weekend, American Sniper owned the box office and brought thousands of people to the brink of emotional heartbreak. In a quick synopsis, this biographical drama captures the life of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who became widely known as the most lethal sniper in American history.

The role of Kyle, taken by Bradley Cooper, took years of mental and physical preparation as well as guidance and direction from Kyle’s widow, Taya.

American Sniper had critics raving and has received numerous Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. However, not all the buzz was good. Outspoken and controversial director Michael Moore boldly tweeted that “snipers were cowards.” Although he didn’t directly mention American Sniper by name in the tweet, it’s hard not to see the connection and timing during opening weekend for the movie.

Moore took to Facebook to clarify his heated tweet and claimed that, “Most Americans don’t think snipers are heroes. Hopefully, not on this weekend when we remember [Martin Luther King, Jr.] in Memphis, Tennessee, who was killed by a sniper's bullet.”

I get it, and I agree that these types of snipers outside the military are anything but heroes. But Moore’s tweet categorized all snipers as cowards. As the daughter of a Marine, it’s very hard for me to even remotely agree or respect Moore’s decision to group all snipers together. There are thousands of men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect me. Those people are a completely different breed than those who hide and prey on innocent pedestrians to satisfy some twisted need. The people who attack the innocent or unknown are the cowards, not the ones who risk their lives to protect a nation.

A sniper is a complicated and controversial role in the military, but to call them “cowards”? That seems not only low, but disrespectful, even for Moore. We’re at a point in our society’s discourse where it’s OK that we don’t necessarily support the war or the intentions of our leaders, but I was brought up to always respect those who serve, because they are the real-life super heroes that jumped from the pages of my childhood comic books.


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