One man’s combat mission is another’s killing spree. That is one of the takeaways from NBC Foreign Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin’s on-air assessment of the life and times of late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.
Mohyeldin, who formerly worked for Al Jazeera, was on Thursday’s “Morning Joe” on sister network MSNBC to discuss “American Sniper,” the wildly successful film that chronicles Kyle’s remarkable exploits on the battlefield. Kyle, who is widely considered the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills, served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. For his valor, he received two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. Iraqi insurgents gave him the nickname “Devil of Ramadi” and placed a bounty on his head that reportedly reached six figures.
Mohyeldin presented what might optimistically be called the “opposing view,” besmirching Kyle’s missions in Iraq a nothing more than “killing sprees” and noting that some people have imputed to his actions “racist tendencies towards Iraqis and Muslims.”
A transcript courtesy of NewsBusters follows the video.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN: It is a very compelling, very thought-provoking, very emotional movie.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: B-u-u-u-u-t?
MOHYELDIN: When you juxtapose it with the real Chris Kyle and what has emerged about what kind of personality he was, in his own words —
WILLIE GEIST: You’re talking about the stories when he was back home in Texas which may have not been true? Is that what you’re talking about?
MOHYELDIN: A lot of his stories when he was back home in Texas, a lot of his own personal opinions about what he was doing in Iraq, how he viewed Iraqis. Some of what people have described as his racist tendencies towards Iraqis and Muslims when he was going on some of these, you know, killing sprees in Iraq on assignment. So I think there are issues —
SCARBOROUGH: Wait, wait. Killing sprees? Chris Kyle was going on killing sprees?
MOHYELDIN: When he was involved in his — on assignments in terms of what he was doing. A lot of the description that has come out from his book and some of the terminology that he has used, people have described as racist.
GEIST: It wasn’t a commentary about the war. It wasn’t about the politics of the war. It was a character study of what this guy went through. And you don’t have to like him and all the comments about him calling Iraqis savages. He was calling the people he was shooting savages. He was calling people who he thought had IEDs, who he thought were going to kill his buddies savages. He didn’t — some people have seized on that term that he thought all Iraqis or everyone in the Middle East is a savage. That’s just not what he said. It’s not what he said. He was talking about the people he was fighting in the theater, calling them savages.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, when we come back, Ayman is going to kick around Santa Claus.
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