Noam Chomsky discusses terrifying "American Sniper" mentality

Chomsky compares the mentality of Chris Kyle to America's drone operation

Published January 26, 2015 6:15PM (EST)


Noam Chomsky discussed the film "American Sniper" at an event held by the Baffler, last week in Cambridge, Mass. The noted linguist, philosopher and political commentator discussed the film, and drew comparisons with the mentality of Chris Kyle (the American sniper whose memoirs are the basis of the film), that of drone operators, and the American public for ignoring the drone war.

"In the memoirs he describes what the experience was like, so I’ll quote him," Chomsky said. "His first kill was a woman, who walked into the street with a grenade in her hand as the Marines attacked her village. Chris Kyle killed her with a single shot, and he explains how he felt about it."

"'I hated the damn savages I’d been fighting,'" Chomsky stated, quoting a passage from Kyle's memoir. "'Savage, despicable, evil — that’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy savages. There was really no other way to describe what we encountered there.""

Chomsky admits he has not seen the movie, but read many reviews -- including laudatory reviews in the New Yorker and New York Times, along with a scathing review of the memoir in BookForum by Newsweek's Jeff Stein.*

"Getting back to Chris Kyle, he regarded his first kill as a terrorist — this woman who walked in the street," Chomsky stated after discussing Stein's review. "But we can’t really attribute that to the mentality of a psychopathic killer, because we’re all tarred by the same brush, insofar as we tolerate or keep silent about official policy."

"Now, that mentality helps explain why it’s so easy to ignore what is most clearly the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern history -- if not ever. Obama’s global assassination campaign, the drone campaign, which officially is aimed at murdering people who are suspected of maybe someday planning to harm us."

"I’d advise you to read some of the transcripts with drone operators," Chomsky continued. "They’re harrowing — the guys who are sitting in front of computers in Las Vegas."

*Previously the article stated that the review appeared in Newsweek. It appeared in BookForum and can be read here.

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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American Sniper Chris Kyle Drones Middle East Noam Chomsky Snipers Video War