Red Platoon: Clinton Romesha’s combat memoir will floor you. Buy it — now


One of the rarest things on earth is the perfect blending between a warrior and a scholar. To meet such a man or to read his wisdom on the written page is truly a blessing, which is why I search … and search … and search for those moments. It is safe to say that Clinton Romesha, Medal of Honor recipient and author of Red Platoon, unequivocally belongs in that elite group. His memoir is exquisitely written, which feels somewhat odd to say given the subject matter.

For those who are unfamiliar with Mr. Romesha’s story — or, rather, the story of the men deployed to Combat Outpost (COP) Keating in Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2009 — it is the stuff of legend. The former Staff Sergeant and his comrades were told to man an outpost that was in every way imaginable a death trap, and then when all their worst fears came true the majority of them found a way to survive.

Here is an excerpt that in many ways sums up what the book is about:

In 1958, a soldier named J. Glenn Gray wrote a book about soldiers in combat called The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle. Gray, who was drafted into the army as a private in May 1941, was discharged as a second lieutenant in October 1945 after having seen fighting in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany. His book, which is both obscure and revered, touches on something that would later strike me as relevant to what was now unfolding at Keating as our counterassault came in danger of unraveling.

Gray wrote with elegance and precision about how the essence of combat basically boils down to an exchange of trust between two men — or two groups of men — each of whom are providing support by fire for the other. This simple agreement — you move while I shoot at the guys who are trying to kill you, then I will move while you shoot at the guys who are trying to kill me — depends on a willingness to place one’s life into the hands of someone else while in turn taking responsibility for that person’s life in your own hands. When this pact is executed well, it is not only extraordinarily effective but also tends to create a bond between men who enter into it that may stand as the most powerful connection they will ever experience to another human being.

There is, however, one thing that Gray doesn’t explore in his book, which is what can happen when one of the two parties who are supposed to be working in tandem fails — for whatever reason, legitimate or not — to keep his end of the deal. That was what appeared to be taking place right then with Hill’s machine-gun team.” — Clinton Romesha, Red Platoon (New York, Penguin Random House LLC, 2016), 243-244.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It seems awkward to call a wartime memoir “flawless” (How does one give glowing reviews to true story where men died gruesome deaths without seeming inconsiderate or detached?), but that seems to be the best adjective to use.

Red Platoon is powerful, organized, thrilling, poignant, inspirational and educational all at the same time. It is intelligent, but relatable to a wide audience. It is honest, but respectful to all Americans involved — regardless of how they handled themselves on the battlefield.

In short, buy the book. It is awesome, and probably something I will come back to for many years to come.

RELATED: ‘Black Hawk Down’: Read the book because the movie can never do the men who died justice


‘Black Hawk Down’: Read the book because the movie can never do the men who died justice


If you ask most people what they think of Black Hawk Down, then the vast majority of the time the response you’ll get will probably be something along the lines of, “Good movie.” That is understandable, given that it was a blockbuster film in 2001 produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Ridley Scott.

If you are like me, then perhaps you’ve always had an itch regarding the movie and, more importantly, the event — the downing of two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and the subsequent deaths of 18 American soldiers Oct. 3-4, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Sure, it made for a night out at the theater, but perhaps you’ve felt that it was somehow insulting to only know the tale through its Bruckheimerization.

As regular readers of this blog know, I have been working on a book in my spare time that will eventually see the light of day (we’re at the artwork stage now, so hang tight!). There are parts of the novel that required knowledge of Task Force Ranger, and at some point I admitted to myself that it would be literary heresy to not read Mark Bowden’s masterpiece to assist with authenticity. It is safe to say that there probably is not a more comprehensive retelling of the ill-fated attempt to capture two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

And if you do not think any of this is still relevant, then I suggest you start reading The New York Times. The paper reported Sunday in a piece titled In Somalia, U.S. Escalates a Shadow War:

The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.

Hundreds of American troops now rotate through makeshift bases in Somalia, the largest military presence since the United States pulled out of the country after the “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993. …

In March, an American airstrike killed more than 150 Shabab fighters at what military officials called a “graduation ceremony,” one of the single deadliest American airstrikes in any country in recent years. But an airstrike last month killed more than a dozen Somali government soldiers, who were American allies against the Shabab.

Outraged Somali officials said the Americans had been duped by clan rivals and fed bad intelligence, laying bare the complexities of waging a shadow war in Somalia. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the Pentagon was investigating the strike.

Who, exactly, are we fighting? Why are we there? Should we be there?

Mr. Bowden’s book provides many of the answers, which unfortunately raise more questions:

“In books and movies when a soldier shot a man for the first time he went through a moment of soul searching. Waddell didn’t give it a second thought. He just reacted. he thought the man was dead. He had just folded. Startled by Waddell’s shot, Nelson hadn’t seen the man drop. Waddell pointed to where he had fallen and the machine gunner stood up, lifted his big gun, and pumped a few more rounds into the man’s body to make sure. Then they both ran for better cover.

They found it behind a burned out-car. Peering out from underneath toward the north now, Nelson saw a Somali with a gun lying prone on the street between two kneeling women. The shooter had the barrel of this weapon between the women’s legs, and there were four children actually sitting on him. He was completely shielded in noncombatants, taking full cynical advantage of the Americans’ decency.

“Check it out, John,” he told Waddell, who scooted over for a look.

“What do you want to do?” Waddell asked.

“I can’t get that guy through those people.”

So Nelson threw a flashbang, and the group fled so fast the man left his gun in the dirt.” — Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down (New York: Grove Press, 1999), 46.

If you want to know what it’s like to have an entire city honed in on killing you and those you hold dear, then I suggest reading Black Hawk Down. The book can be a bit arduous at times — it’s like trying to eat a steak the size of your head — but there is no escaping it because a.) Mr. Bowden leaves no stone unturned, and b.) the experience for the men on the ground was grueling.

Perhaps the best endorsement of the book that I can give is this: I did not know much about the author before picking up the book, and was surprised to find out he is not a veteran. He’s just a reporter who did a damn good job telling a story.

Black Hawk Down is a book about courage and fear, the nature of war, success and failure on the battlefield, and most importantly the experiences of the men who fought valiantly to save one another in situation that was so surreal that it seem like “a movie.”

 It was not a movie — it happened — which is why those who care about national defense issues should read it sooner rather than later.

Kudos to Mr. Bowden for writing a book that will be read by military men and women for generations to come.

‘The White Donkey’: Iraq War veteran’s graphic novel a powerful read

White Donkey

For  years this blog has tried to make the case that a comic book can be much more than “just” a comic book. For years this blog has tried to make the case that the industry would benefit if it employed, say, men like Terminal Lance creator Maximilian Uriarte. His New York Times bestseller, “The White Donkey,” should officially put that debate to rest.

“The White Donkey” is the story about Abe, a young man who left his small Oregon town in search of … something. He wasn’t quiet sure what he was looking for, but he thought he might find it in the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman. Abe, his best buddy Jesus Garcia, and the rest of their battalion are eventually deployed to Iraq. There is not much more I can say without spoiling the book other than to note its honesty rivals National Book Award Winner Redeployment,” by Phil Klay.

White Donkey Garcia

Every so often a critic comes to this blog and says something along the lines of, “You write about popular culture because you wanted to make it in Hollywood and never did.”

Yes, I did go to USC upon exiting the Army as a mechanized infantryman, but nothing could be further from the truth regarding professional regrets. In fact, a better personal attack would be that I exited the military prior to 9/11, didn’t have the courage to re-enlist after the Twin Towers fell, and that it still haunts me to this day.

There actually is some truth to that — I carried a ton of guilt with me for years after 9/11, which was exacerbated after a friend of mine, Hector Leija, had his head blown off in Iraq by a sniper. I disclose these details because readers need to know that everything that happens to “Abe” prior to his deployment is eerily close to what I experienced as a peace time soldier (i.e., it’s authentic). The characters, situations, and confrontations Abe navigates in many ways mirror my own.

I see myself in Abe (except the atheist part), and cannot help but wonder what I would be like had I stayed in military.

White Donkey leave

If you’re looking for a book with intelligence and emotional weight, then check out “The White Donkey.” If you’re looking for a book that can help civilians better understand returning war veterans, PTSD, and the other burdens they might be carrying, then Uriarte’s work is a must-read. One can only hope that he continues telling tales for many years to come.

Heidi Czerwiec, PC professor, vows 9-1-1 calls for all ROTC training

Heidi Czerwiec UND ROTC

Sane Americans read the news on their laptops this week and wondered how it was possible that college students were left “afraid” and shaken by pro-Donald Trump chalk scribbles at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The answer can be found by looking at those in charge of so-called “higher education.” Take, for instance, University of North Dakota college professor Heidi Czerwiec, who made national news for vowing to call 9-1-1 every time she saw ROTC training in the quad outside her window.

Anyone who has been to a university with an ROTC program knows that cadets are unmistakable. One would have to be an idiot — or a poetry professor at UND — to not know the difference between ROTC cadets who are getting ready to train and, say, Jim-Bob McCooter wandering around campus with an AR-15 after he’s had one too many to drink.

US Army ROTC cadet command

Does Professor Czerwiec call 9-1-1 when she sees a cop on campus? Readers should not put it past her since the university had already informed faculty and staff via email that ROTC training would happen.

Regardless, in addition to a disgusting voicemail she sent to the ROTC program ( “You’ve created terror. You’ve achieved it.”), she wrote a letter to the Grand Forks Herald that said:

“I look up from my office computer to see two figures in camo with guns outside my window. My first thought is for my students’ and my safety: I grab my phone, crawl under my desk and call 911. The dispatcher keeps me on the line until someone can see if ROTC is doing maneuvers.

I can barely talk—first, with fear, and then with rage when the dispatcher reports back that yes, in fact, I’ve probably just seen ROTC cadets, though they’re going to send an officer to check because no one has cleared it with them. They thank me for reporting it.

A few minutes later, a university officer calls me back—not to reassure me, but to scold me for calling 911. He says ROTC has permission to do this exercise. When I tell him that this was news to 911 and that they encouraged me to call whenever I see a gun on campus, he seems surprised.

He also tells me that ROTC will be doing these exercises for the next couple weeks. So I reply that I guess I’ll be calling 911 for the next couple weeks—and I will. Every time.

So I reply that I guess I’ll be calling 9-1-1 for the next couple weeks and I will. Every time,” Czerwiec wrote. “It’s not my job to decide whether people carrying guns at school are an actual threat. It’s my job to teach and to get home to my family. It’s already highly inappropriate to conduct unnecessary military maneuvers in the middle of the quad. But with school shootings on the increase and tensions at UND running high, it’s especially irresponsible. We’re already under financial and emotional attack. We don’t need to feel under physical attack, too.”

There’s only one problem with Czerwiec’s letter — it’s wrong. The University told WDAZ-8 that it did go through all the proper channels to clear its training. An email saying, “ROTC cadets will train in and around the quad, and may carry military equipment, including dummy weapons” was sent to staff one week before the training took place.

Do you know who misses emails on ROTC training? Answer: The kind of woman who would call an ROTC training center and say “You’ve created terror. You’ve achieved it,” because she was the only dunce on campus who didn’t read her email or have the common sense to know what ROTC cadets look like.

Perhaps Rob Port over at Say Anything Blog said best:

“Her angry voicemail left for the ROTC seems downright unhinged, as was her threat in the letter to the Grand Forks Herald to call 911 every time she sees the ROTC. She [now says] … that she only meant that she would call when she sees something ‘suspicious that is not obviously part of a drill,’ but that wasn’t at all clear from her letter. Words mean things. You’d think someone working in a university English department would understand this.”

You are sadly mistaken, Mr. Port. Professors like Ms. Czerwiec are more interested in creating “Safe Space America” than preparing students for the real world.

Christopher Marquez, war hero, attacked in D.C. — Obama silent


George Orwell’s Animal Farm is famous for the quote “Some animals are more equal than others.” Someone should write an update called American Farm that includes the line “Some hate crimes are more equal than others” after the Washington, D.C., attack of war hero Christopher Marquez.

Most media outlets have not covered the Feb. 12 attack of Marquez, who served eight years on active duty between 2003 and 2011. In short, the Bronze Star recipient sat down to eat in a McDonald’s in the nation’s capital and was accosted by a group of teens demanding to know if he thought “black lives matter.”

Like most sane people, he tried to ignore them and just eat his burger. He was promptly ambushed and robbed upon exiting the restaurant.

“I believe this was a hate crime and I was targeted because of my skin color,” Marquez told the Daily Caller Feb. 15. “Too many of these types of attacks have been happening against white people by members of the black community and the majority of the mainstream media refuses to report on it.”

Suspects arrested in connection with Christopher Marquez’s assault and robbery will not be charged with a hate crime, despite harassing him with racial questions prior to their attack. (Photo: D.C. Metropolitan Police Department)

There are two very interesting facts about Marquez’s case:

  1. Cops finally arrested and charge two individuals in connection with the incident, but they will not be charged with a hate crime — even though they were explicitly harassing him about race and calling him “racist” before the attack.
  2. President Obama, who always seems eager to weigh in on race-related crimes, somehow can’t find his voice when it comes to Black Lives Matter supporters who beat a Marine veteran unconscious and stole $400, a VA medical card, and three credit cards from his back pocket just miles from the White House. What did his assailants spend the stolen cash on, you ask? Answer: liquor, a Five Guys burgers, and products from Walmart.

Regular readers of this blog may remember the case of Allen Haywood, who was attacked by a similar group of kids on the DC Metro Green Line in 2011. They may also remember my own tale on the Green Line from September 17, 2011.

I wrote then:

As I came home late from work on the D.C. Metro Green line, an inebriated older man approached me. I stood towards the back of the Metro minding my own business. The stranger crept up beside me, but just enough to my rear to obscure his actions. There was almost no one else on the train. I angled slightly towards him and he whispered in my ear,  “Why don’t you sit down? Don’t you like black people?” I ignored him. He raised his voice: “Why don’t you sit down? Don’t you like black people?” Again, I ignored him. Since the third time around is a charm I finally answered, “I’ve been sitting all day.”

He didn’t believe me.

The man continued to ask me the question, and when I ignored him some more (all the while paying close attention to his position and body language) he turned his question into a statement. Then, he squared up, stated that I didn’t like black people and pushed his palm into my shoulder, which I immediately swiped down with a force that surprised him. He approached again, reaching out his hand to push my shoulder and I swiped it hard enough to make him stutter-step backwards.

On his third attempt to escalate the situation he came at me from the side and bumped me. I responded by shoving him to the other side of the Metro car with enough force so that, should I have chosen to pounce, the backward momentum with which he was stumbling would have put him at a distinct disadvantage.

At this time the Metro stopped, the man gave me a few hard glares and left the train car.

This is an ongoing problem in Washington, D.C., whether the mainstream media wants to admit it or not.

I used to take the Green Line home from work on a regular basis, and groups of kids would act like psychopaths — almost daring someone to speak up. They would also look for women who possessed zero situational awareness and then steal their cell phones right before the Metro doors closed at any given stop.

In my case I was just singled out by a drunk man who, like the teenagers, has convinced himself that any white person who doesn’t greet him with giant smiles after a long day of work is somehow racist and worthy of a physical confrontation.

Incidents like this regularly get swept under the rug, yet the media cannot get enough of the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida; the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; or the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland.

Meanwhile, a Marine veteran who literally helped inspire the iconic war memorial “No Man Left Behind” at Camp Pendleton, California, is ambushed — on American soil — and there is deafening silence.


For those who do not remember, Marquez was in Fallujah’s “Hell House” in 2004 when he helped aide Marine Sgt. Maj. Brad Kasal with lance corporal Dane Shaffer. The image of the three men, which went viral, was sculpted into the memorial by Vietnam veteran John Phelps in November 2015.


The moral of the story here is that no group naturally has a monopoly on hate, but for whatever reason American media outlets are obsessed with filling certain subsets of the population with it.

Christopher Marquez, who now attends American University, will be fine in the long-run. Your friendly neighborhood blogger, who also attended American University, has fared rather well since 2011.

My guess is that the drunken man on the Green Line and the McDonald’s attackers — all filled with racial animosity towards guys like us — will have a slew of needlessly rough days ahead. Perhaps they should have enlisted in the Army like me or the Marines like Mr. Marquez.

At a minimum, minorities in Washington, D.C., would be wise to stop listening to race activists, whose careers are dependent upon keeping as many people as possible in a perpetual state of anger and confusion.

‘Relentless Strike’: Sean Naylor tells the breathtaking history of Joint Special Operations Command

Relentless Strike

I heard about a book called “Relentless Strike: The Secret History of Joint Special Operations Command” in early September. Pentagon officials were not thrilled that author Sean Naylor wanted to shed light on the Herculean efforts required to keep Americans safe. Given that special operators tend to work in the shadows, the Pentagon’s position makes sense — but I bought the book anyway — and found myself relentlessly reading it until the finish.

It is incredibly hard to review a book that spans the entire history of JSOC. Perhaps the best way to approach the book is to say how painful it was to read of all the many successes these elite operators had since Sept. 11, 2001, only to see much of their work squandered since 2008.

Towards the end of the book, Naylor discusses the rise of the Islamic State group and what its gains in Iraq meant to JSOC.

The list of Iraqi cities the Islamic State had taken by the end of the summer was a roll call of places where the JSOC task force had engaged in hard, vicious fights to dislodge Saddam Hussein’s forces and then to eviscerate Al Qaeda in Iraq: Haditha, where the Rangers withstood a fearsome artillery barrage to take a vital dam during the 2003 invasion; Tikrit, where Task Force Wolverine and Team Tank fought it out with the Fedayeen; Fallujah, where Don Hollenbaugh had earned his Distinguished Service Cross by holding off an insurgent assault single-handedly in April 2004; Rawa, where Doug Taylor’s Delta troop had impersonated farmhands to snare Ghassan Amin in April 2005; Al Qaim, where Delta operators Steven Langmack, Bob Horrigan, and Michael McNulty had died in the bloody spring of 2005; and Mosul, where the Rangers killed Abu Khalaf in a perfectly executed assault in 2008. (Sean Naylor. Relentless Strike. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2015, 437)

By the time this summery occurs, the reader has been familiarized with details of every one of the hard-fought battles mentioned. It is tough to read without wincing.

The vast majority of Americans will never comprehend the amount blood, sweat, and tears shed by special operators. Naylor’s work, as prolific as it is, scratches the surface in terms of heroic tales known only to a select few.

Regardless, if nothing else, “Relentless Strike” makes it obvious that while millions of Americans are watching cat videos on YouTube or mindlessly uploading selfies to their social media page, shadow wars are raging all around them.

There is a thin veil of peace and tranquility over most Americans’ eyes, and it is only kept in place by the rough hands of those who are willing to fight and die on the other side of the globe.

I highly suggest “Relentless Strike” for anyone who wants to know what, exactly, it takes to provide national security to 350 million Americans on a daily basis.

Army race termite shows unauthorized ‘white privilege’ slide during diversity training

Medal of HonorA 637-page Pentagon training manual created by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) includes a section on “white privilege.” Officers are taught that “white males represent the haves as compared to the have-notes.” The manual was revealed in 2013 due to solid reporting by Fox’s Todd Starnes. It should come as no surprise then that the Army now has an infestation of race termites in its ranks.

USA Today reported Friday:

WASHINGTON — Army officials are investigating a diversity training briefing at Fort Gordon, Ga., in which a slide about “white privilege” was inappropriately shown to soldiers, according to an Army spokeswoman

The Equal Opportunity briefing took place Thursday for about 400 soldiers of the 67th Signal Battalion, Capt. Lindsay Roman, an Army spokeswoman, said Friday. The slide titled “The Luxury of Obliviousness” has bullet-point items about “white privilege.”

One item reads, “Race privilege gives whites little reason to pay a lot of attention to African Americans or to how white privilege affects them. ‘To be white in America means not having to think about it.'”

The presentation was not authorized, nor was it part of the standard slides shown to soldiers, Roman said.

“The unit (Equal Opportunity) instructor deviated from the authorized topic and content which was provided,” Roman said. “To prevent further instances, all unit instructors will receive additional training on the importance of following Army EO training requirements.”

First of all, following lawful orders is a “biggie” in the Army. I hope the EO instructor pays dearly for his or her offense, but I digress.

One of the beautiful things about the Army, which I sadly didn’t appreciate until after I left, was just devoid it was of all the inescapable political correctness found in the civilian world. Race is first stripped of all infantrymen in basic training — your are just a number. I was “Roster Number 144.” After graduation, race wasn’t an issue at my unit because no one really cares about race. They care about performance.

Do you follow orders? Can you be trusted to do what is right even when no one is looking? Are you loyal? Are you a “fat body” or are you a “PT stud”? Can you march 25 miles with 65 pounds on your back without lagging behind? None of those questions have anything to do with race. I can honestly say that I never had any race problems during my time in Charlie Company, 1/18 Infantry Battalion. It was only when I got out of the Army that I realized there was an entire industry of people dedicated to using race to divide the population.

The civilian world is full of people who make excuses — for everything. It’s filled with quitters. It’s filled with people who sit around feeling sorry for themselves instead of getting up off their butt and making the impossible possible. Yes, it’s also filled with millions of men and women with grit in their spit who work hard to and make the world a better place, but it can not be denied that the proportion of professional whiners in its ranks is astounding.

Mitt Romney was rightfully thumped in the polls for the delivery of his “47 percent” comment in 2012, but his core argument was sound: there is a cancerous mass of Americans who do not see work as a virtue and try to avoid it at all costs. One way to avoid work is to blame “white privilege” on any number of life’s unfortunate circumstances and then use it as a cudgel on those who dare to speak painful truths. It is an incredibly frightening realization that race termites have finished hollowing out American culture and found a way to burrow into a world that was previously out of their reach: the military.

Certain occupational specialties will always be resistant to politically correct psychobabble. The problem is that “race-baiter resistant” is not the same as “race-baiter proof.” Will the man to your right trust you when he’s been indoctrinated with Pentagon manuals and EO diversity training courses that say to “assume racism is everywhere, every day”? Answer: Not likely.

If the Army is smart, then they’ll put a boot up this EO instructor’s butt and make sure that “white privilege” slides are only used when they’re printed out and taped to pop-up targets.

Nicholas Irving’s ‘The Reaper’: Sniper’s book gives readers a raw look at the realities of war

Nicholas Irving FacebookMichael Moore’s now-infamous tweet, in which he called snipers “cowards” while moviegoers raved about Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” showed that he never read Chris Kyle’s book. Likewise, Mr. Moore’s ignorant tweet also demonstrated that he was unfamiliar with Nicholas Irving, 3rd Ranger Battalion’s deadliest sniper, with 33 confirmed kills. Mr. Irving’s autobiography, “The Reaper,” is available now, and it is certainly worth checking out for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of the profession.

What separates Mr. Irving’s autobiography from others of a similar vein is that he details quite graphically just how close he came to death on multiple occasions. Many of the other first-person accounts of America’s elite war fighters never really recreate the sense of fear that can sweep over them when death closes in. The man known as “The Reaper” doesn’t shy away from acknowledging that real deal was hovering just over his head in many battles. Contrary to what Michael Moore thinks, snipers often put themselves in great danger — and when they’re spotted there is often nowhere to hide.

It takes brains, guts, and grace under pressure to survive on the battlefield when the best laid plans fall to pieces, and Mr. Irving does an impressive job articulating that reality for readers who are unlikely to ever take one step on foreign soil.

One of the other charges of men like Bill Maher is that American war fighters tell their stories in ways that make them come across as “psychopath patriots.” This once again proves that modern American liberals either do not read books like “The Reaper” or they only read them to the extent that they can find quotes to take completely out of context for their own political gain.

Nicholas Irving is certainly not glorifying war when he says of his experience shortly after a brutal firefight:

“Finally, though, when we were waiting for transport via Chinooks, I drifted off, though I heard a loud crack go past my ear. I immediately jumped up, put on my rucksack and stood there looking around, surveying the scene. All I saw was the rest of the guys just sitting there as calm as could be. In my head, bullets were still flying; in reality they weren’t.” (Nicholas Irving, The Reaper. Saint Martin’s Press, 2015. Page 182)

There are certainly passages in “The Reaper” that, taken out of context by partisan hacks, could be used to frame the Mr. Irving as a “psychopath patriot.” The reality is something else entirely: American snipers train for years to perform at the highest level of excellence. They take pride in their work (i.e., saving the lives of their fellow brothers-in-arms and killing enemies when necessary), just as cops or FBI agents take pride in what they do for a living.

If there are disagreements about foreign policy, then late-night talk show hosts and partisan filmmakers should criticize elected officials — not the men on the front lines who are literally diving into streams of raw sewage to avoid being torn to shreds by Toyota Hilux-mounted DShK machine guns.

The charge that books like “American Sniper” or “The Reaper” serve as “propaganda” (as Hollywood actor Seth Rogen might say) is laughable. Mr. Irving highlights this quite nicely when he describes a brief meeting with a young soldier who just recently completed Ranger School:

Just before we got to the car, our CQ, our company quartermaster, a really good guy named Lyons, came up to me.

“Just wanted to make sure you have everything squared away,” he said, shaking my hand.

“Yeah. Thanks for your help with all the gear and stuff.”

“No problem, Irv.”

Behind him, I could see another Ranger standing there. He was an E4 and I could see that he was a cherry guy, freshly shaved, quiet, standing there at parade rest.

Lyons introduced us. “Sergeant,” he said, “I wanted to meet you. All due respect but I heard you killed a bunch of guys. You set some record. I want to break it. I want my deployment to be just like yours was.”

I couldn’t believe what he was saying. Nobody says that. Nobody says that in front of a man’s wife.

Jessica stood there starting at me, looking like she was trying to figure something out, remember a phone number or something that someone had asked her for, something from her past she wanted to bring back up.

I looked at the cherry new guy, held his gaze until he backed his eyes off me, and said, very quietly but very firmly, “No. You don’t.” (Nicholas Irving, The Reaper. Saint Martin’s Press, 2015. Page 306)

If you’re looking for a compelling autobiography to read, pick up “The Reaper,” by Nicholas Irving. It may not be turned into a blockbuster movie anytime soon, but it’s still worth your time.

Related: American Sniper: Chris Kyle, Guardian Angel who doesn’t know it
Related: ‘American Sniper’ success prompts Michael Moore to take pot shots at deceased hero Chris Kyle

Bill Maher claps for Islam as ‘mother lode of bad ideas,’ blasts Chris Kyle for calling enemies ‘savages’

Bill Maher APWhenever someone tells me that liberalism is a mental disorder I get slightly uncomfortable, but occasionally it’s hard not to think that when a guy like Bill Maher demonstrates that moral relativism has done something incredibly weird to his mind. The HBO host turned into a giddy schoolgirl when atheist guest Sam Harris called Islam the “mother lode of bad ideas,” but on Friday night he labeled the late Navy SEAL war hero Chris Kyle as a “psychopath patriot” for calling al Qaeda-inspired Sunni terrorists, those who use children as suicide bombers, and future-members of the Islamic State group (the men currently chopping off heads in Iraq and Syria) “savages.”

Mediaite reported Mr. Maher’s opinion on “American Sniper” and Chris Kyle Jan. 23:

Hurt Locker made $17 million because it was a little ambiguous and thoughtful. And this one is just ‘American hero. He’s a psychopath patriot and we love him.’ You know, I read some of the quotes from the real Chris Kyle. He said: “I hate the damn savages.” Talking about the Iraqis: “And I’ve been fighting and I always will. I love killing bad guys. Even with the pain, I loved what I was doing. Maybe war isn’t really fun, but I certainly was enjoying it.’ I don’t know. Eisenhower once said, “I hate wars. Only a soldier who has lived it, can.” I just don’t see this guy in the same league as Eisenhower. I’m sorry. And, if you’re a Christian — I now this is a Christian country — ‘I hate the damn savages,’ […] it doesn’t seem like a Christian thing to say. […] The idea that Americans cannot see an ambiguity — that someone has to be pure hero or pure traitor — is ridiculous.”

It wouldn’t be an installment of HBO Real Time without taking a cheap shot at Christians, would it? In October, however, Bill Maher was loving every minute of atheist Sam Harris’ conclusion that Islam is the “mother lode of bad ideas.”

CNN reported Oct. 16:

Ben Affleck’s appearance on Bill Maher’s “Real Time” on Friday turned into a somewhat heated discussion when Maher and author Sam Harris voiced their opinions on Islam.

“Gone Girl” star Affleck took umbrage at the pair’s contention that Islam is, in Harris’ words, a “mother lode of bad ideas” and that liberals are squeamish about criticizing Islam for stances on women and LGBT issues because people “have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where every criticism gets confused with bigotry toward Muslims as people.”

Bill Maher’s rants on Islam are prolific — and many of them do not contain the kind of “ambiguous and thoughtful” commentary he praises The Hurt Locker for. Most of them are not very ambiguous at all, and yet he bashes a guy who was deployed to Iraq four times for calling Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s henchmen and like-minded Iraqis “savages.” Telling.

In Bill Maher’s world, American snipers must be held to the General Eisenhower standard for articulating their world view or be deemed a “psychopath patriot.” If you’re a Christian, then you must utter each word and phrase with the tact and grace of a saint — even if you watched your buddy’s face get blown off while deployed to a war zone. If you’re an atheist, then you can make blanket statements about how Islam is inherently bad, and it’s considered nuanced. Is that a sign of a mental disorder on Bill Maher’s part, or are viewers just watching what happens when a man gets lost inside the maze of moral relativism he’s created in his own mind? It’s a tough question.

On Friday’s episode or “Real Time,” comedian Bill Burr tried to tell Mr. Maher that it isn’t right to “sum up a man by one quote taken out of context.” The host was having none of it, because doing that has served his bank account quite well for many years now. One might say that twisting a man’s words to further a political agenda is not a “Christian” thing to do, but since Bill Maher is an atheist — and right and wrong is simply dictated by whatever he decides on a moment-to-moment basis — then it’s no big deal.

Keep finding ways to slime veterans who served their country to the best of their ability, Bill Maher. Most Americans are willing to cut an Iraq War veteran with four tours under his belt some slack for not describing the experience as if he were a five-star general (yes, that’s right — five-star) who would go on to become the 34th President of the United States. With every petty insult hurled at Chris Kyle by men like Michael Moore and Seth Rogen, modern liberalism’s true colors are revealed. For that, I thank them.

Related: ‘American Sniper’: Clint Eastwood does Chris Kyle’s memory proud

Related: ‘American Sniper’ success prompts Michael Moore to take pot shots at deceased hero Chris Kyle

‘American Sniper’ success prompts Michael Moore to take pot shots at deceased hero Chris Kyle

“American Sniper” is a box office hit. In four days of wide-release, it has pulled in $105 million. Audiences across the country have been moved by the Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Director Clint Eastwood did a marvelous job showing the kind of selfless service displayed by American war fighters while also not shying away from the psychological toll that combat takes on them and their loved ones. It’s a stellar film about an American hero, which is why Michael Moore and Seth Rogen responded just as the world expects Hollywood liberals to act: like pathetic men who deep down resent the fact that for all their fame and fortune they are still glorified clowns.

Chris Kyle was a real hero, and instead of just dealing with their envy and jealousy in the privacy of their own home, Michael Moore and Seth Rogen lashed out on Twitter so the world could see how truly petty they are.

Michael Moore American SniperUsing Michael Moore’s logic, anyone who uses cover and concealment during the course of battle is a “coward.” Perhaps we should do away with camouflage and just wear bright red jackets with white pants in the middle of open fields, but I digress.
Michael Moore Twitter American SniperOnce negative feedback came rolling in, Michael Moore decided to just make it abundantly clear that whenever he talks about cowards, he is really just projecting his own inner demons.

Michael Moore Chris Kyle

Translation: “What are you so upset about? I wasn’t disparaging Chris Kyle with my sniper comments, even though I made them on the very day millions of Americans were talking about him. Where would you get that idea?”

And then there is Seth Rogen, whose main achievement in life is that he made a dumb movie about North Korea (we all know why he didn’t target Iranian mullahs), which forced millions of Americans to confirm: yes, we will defend Hollywood actors’ right to the freedom of expression, even if they are classless imbeciles.

Seth Rogen American SniperSeth Rogen’s tweet proves that he did not see “American Sniper,” or that he is a hate-filled buffoon (perhaps both?). The movie wasn’t a celebration of war or a piece of propaganda similar to faux-Nazi films created by Quentin Tarantino; if anything it was a clarion call to policy makers to think long and hard before sending men like Chris Kyle into war zones. Only a miserable person as defined by John Stuart Mill could watch Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” and think “coward.”

“The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” — John Stuart Mill.

C.S. Lewis, who fought and almost died during World War I, puts it another way in his famous essay, “Why I am not a pacifist”:

“For let us make no mistake. All that we fear from all the kinds of adversity, severally, is collected together in the life of a soldier on active service. Like sickness, it threatens pain and death. Like poverty, it threatens ill lodging, cold, heat, thirst, and hunger. Like slavery, it threatens toil, humiliation, injustice, and arbitrary rule. Like exile, it separates you from all you love. Like the gallies, it imprisons you at close quarters with uncongenial companions. It threatens every temporal evil — every evil except dishonor and final perdition, and those who bear it like it no better than you would like it. On the other side, though it may not be your fault, it is certainly a fact that Pacifism threatens you with almost nothing. Some public opprobrium, yes, from people whose opinion you discount and whose society you do not frequent, soon recompensed by the warm mutual approval which exists, inevitably, in any minority group. For the rest it offers you a continuance of the life you know and love, among the people and in the surroundings you know and love.” — C.S. Lewis

Michael Moore and Seth Rogen are very much like the “miserable creatures” referenced in Mill’s “On Liberty.” On many levels they are not worth writing about; they run in social circles with like-minded fools who would never point out that maybe — just maybe — the dough-like man-boys disparaging Navy SEALs might have a few insecurities hiding in those rolls of skin. However, because of their Hollywood connections, men like Michael Moore and Seth Rogen do affect American culture. The bully pulpit they have access to almost demands that those who can push back against their attempts at character assassination, should.

Congratulations, Michael Moore and Seth Rogen: you’re the type of guys who take shots at deceased Navy SEALs and the creative works that respectfully honor their sacrifice. Try doing that outside Hollywood circles and see how much it endears you to the crowd.

Update: Seth Rogen is now backtracking with the incredibly lame “Apples remind me of oranges,” excuse. Next he’ll say that every once-in-awhile he sits down, bites into a banana, and thinks, “Zucchini.”

Seth Rogen American Sniper Twitter
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