Chris Kyle of “American Sniper” not a hero, murder of innocent life still morally wrong regardless of war

Seth Weber and Seth Weber

Although the film “American Sniper” was released some time ago, it’s enjoyed more time in the spotlight with its presence at the Academy Awards, which has caused more discussion of it to bubble up on the Internet.

Because of this, I think it’s an appropriate time to put my two cents in.

While talk of Chris Kyle’s character and treatment of other people has been beaten into the ground, I would like to touch upon something broader that I haven’t seen too much of when the subject of Kyle arises.

That is, the moral obligations of soldiers in times of war.

There are those who concede that Kyle may have done some morally questionable things during his service, but defend him because he was “just doing his job” or was “just following orders.”

Not only does this reasoning not justify a soldier’s actions, it is a dangerous way of thinking.

At the risk of falling into reductio ad Hitlerum, this is exactly the type of defense used at the Nuremburg Trials. This defense assumes a soldier has no moral agency and is at the mercy of their superiors in all matters.

It is not enough to defend heinous acts. Every soldier has a moral duty to consider their actions and their orders and how they may be immoral.

It seems to me that a soldier’s duty is to defeat their enemy and protect their fellow soldiers. This does not include killing innocent people.

I understand there are those that say collateral damage is unavoidable, but that does not protect those who kill innocents, even by accident, from a moral pitfall.

The act of killing an innocent person is what matters, not the intent or causes for doing so.

Even killing those who can be considered enemy combatants is not morally right. Killing is not always wrong, but it can never be the right thing to do.

It can certainly be morally permissible, but it’s never something someone is obligated to do. I certainly will not fault someone for killing in self-defense or because it may help someone else.

At the same time, it is not wrong to abstain from killing for those reasons.

It’s odd that some treat war as if it exists outside the realm of moral duty, because it does not. Being at war with another group of people, however justified, does not exempt one from moral obligations.

Chris Kyle was not a hero, because killing is never a heroic act. One who kills may do it out of necessity for self-defense or for the protection of others, but that does not make the act itself right.

Kyle’s self-proclaimed hatred for Iraqis and admittance that he wished had killed more means his killing was not only for what he thought was a necessity, but for the pure act of ending another being’s life, which is certainly morally indefensible.

He enjoyed killing and nobody should enjoy such an awful act.

This is not an attack on soldiers, but on those who use war as an excuse to kill as they please and use nationalism to make themselves seem honorable.

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