Snipers: No Nuts In Iraq
by Mickey Z.

January 5, 2004

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An article by Eric Schmitt, in the January 2, 2004 edition of the New York Times ("In Iraq's Murky Battle, Snipers Offer U.S. a Precision Weapon") offered a fine illustration of how heavily conditioned a society we live in. Consider the opening lines: "The intimate horror of the guerrilla war here in Iraq seems most vivid when seen through the sights of a sniper's rifle. In an age of satellite-guided bombs dropped at featureless targets from 30,000 feet, Army snipers can see the expression on a man's face when the bullet hits."

Schmitt goes on to quote an American sniper boasting: "I shot one guy in the head, and his head exploded. Usually, though, you just see a dust cloud pop up off their clothes, and see a little blood splatter come out the front." Schmitt also crows about a sniper's ability "to fell guerrilla gunmen and their leaders with a single shot from as far as half a mile away" all in the name of protecting "infantry patrols sweeping through urban streets and alleyways." Schmitt explains: "Soldiering is a violent business, and emotions in combat run high. But commanders say snipers are a different breed of warrior - quiet, unflappable marksmen who bring a dispassionate intensity to their deadly task."

Let's pause for a minute here to re-cap. The alleged liberal media ignores any mention of an illegal invasion and occupation while turning U.S. snipers into rifle-toting gods: "calm, methodical, and disciplined" men, we're told, who undergo psychological screening "to make sure they're not training a nut."

A nut? Schmitt quotes a Specialist Wilson who tries not to see his Iraqi victims "as men with families and children" and a Sergeant Davis who has this to say about the eight confirmed kills to his credit: "As soon as they picked up a weapon and tried to engage U.S. soldiers, they forfeited all their rights to life, is how I look at it."

These men, I guess, are no more nuts than those who dropped the firebombs on Dresden and Tokyo or those who piloted the Enola Gay or blew up Korean dams or napalmed Southeast Asia or used sand plows to cover Iraqi soldiers or fired depleted uranium shells in Yugoslavia and so on and so on. The Times reassure us that "our" snipers are well-trained and have "honed the art of killing to a fine edge." They always hit the right target, the newspaper of record promises us, soothingly.

"We don't have civilian casualties," a sniper explained when asked how he avoided hitting the Iraqi schoolchildren. "Everything you hit, you know exactly what it is. You know where every round is going."

We can all sleep better tonight.

After fetishing their weapons of choice and informing us that U.S. snipers often wrap condoms on the gun muzzle "to keep the sand out," Schmitt explains that, "Most snipers are familiar with firearms even before joining the armed forces. Sergeant Davis and Specialist Wilson grew up on farms, and both owned their first rifles before they were 10. They fondly remember hunting deer as youngsters." I love the use of the word fondly to soften the image.

Still, Sergeant Davis affirm that he and his men "try to get away from stereotypes that you're a psychotic gun nut running around, like the guy in D.C., or like in the movies, a cool-guy assassin." Ah, another night of sound slumber for us back home.

In the classic liberal media tradition of asking the tough questions, Schmitt concludes with this one: "Would they ever shoot a child who aimed at them?"

Specialist Wilson, a father of five, hesitated: "I couldn't imagine that," he said. Davis, well, he saw things differently: "I'd shoot him, otherwise he'd shoot me."

However, before you lose any sleep over any potential nuts running around spending our tax dollars exploding the heads of Iraqi children, Davis did offer this caveat (which Schmitt used for his closer): "But I wouldn't feel good about it."

Sweet dreams.

Mickey Z. is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet (www.murderingofmyyears.com) and an editor at Wide Angle (www.wideangleny.com).  He can be reached at: mzx2@earthlink.net.


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