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Kyle’s Kampf

Stuart White
THE WORLD IN BLACK-N-WHITE

"Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side…” Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf.

There is nothing like a bit of controversy to get people talking and drumming up some publicity so I thought I’d cash in with a quote from Adolf Hitler, the Antichrist himself, in line with the comparable furore surrounding a newly-released big Hollywood blockbuster,   ‘American Sniper’.  This is the Clint Eastwood-directed movie about the most lethal sniper in American history, Chris Kyle which has achieved a record box office haul as being the highest opening January movie ever ($105 million for the first weekend).

I am not sure if its early success is due to the support of the conservative, pro-war faction of American society and patriotic sentiment resulting from US action against Islamic militancy in the Middle East, the six Oscar nominations it has received or just the polemical publicity surrounding it which makes it a ‘must see’ or maybe taking all 3 factors together makes it the perfect storm.  


The film's subject, Chris Kyle, the real-life sniper with 160 kills to his credit, retired from the military in 2009, finding ways to help veterans back home with his family in Texas. However, the former Navy SEAL was killed in 2013, allegedly by a mentally disturbed veteran he was trying to help.

In West Los Angeles, a billboard for the film was vandalised over the weekend with the word “Murder!” written in red spray paint. The New Republic’s Dennis Jett wrote that “treating Kyle as a patriot and ignoring any other possibility allows Americans to ignore the consequences of invading a country that had no weapons of mass destruction, had nothing to do with 9/11, and had no meaningful ties to Al Qaeda.”

Actor Seth Rogen tweeted that “American Sniper” reminded him of the Nazi propaganda film shown in “Inglorious Bastards”. If you didn’t see this movie segment (Stolz der nation) it is an authentic propaganda film of a German sniper who during the battle for Stalingrad kills hundreds of allied soldiers, one by one whilst the brainwashed German audience screams with joy at every life lost. I can definitely relate to the comparison.

As the WashingtonPost describes; the movie is decried as propaganda by some and praised as veterans’ paean by others. As with everything I guess it supposes which side of the fence that you sit on and what your views are.

I saw the movie and thought it felt like propaganda to me – some of the content was really hard to believe.  True, I have never been at war nor visited Iraq but I thought it had a far-fetched feel to it, made more so by the ridiculous use of a fake baby used in one of the scenes – it was laughable and made me wonder how such shoddy work can be worthy of a best picture nomination –   Google fake baby American Sniper to see what I mean.  But it will not be the first time that the Academy has rewarded politics over art. As one person tweeted “fake baby stars in fake story about a fake hero who fought in a fake war started for fake reasons.” But of course that is just one person’s opinion.

And never underestimate the old stage maxim of ‘all publicity is good publicity’ because seriously you couldn’t buy this amount of mass and social media coverage and even if you did it would never have the same divisive hot-topic impact. The main criticism appears to be the pro war message that the movie has although one might argue the opposite as the protagonist struggles to regain the semblance of a normal life after his 4 tours of Iraq – and this is the real likely truth about soldiers returning to civilian life after being at war.

In the face of extreme difficulty and stress like those experienced in war, human beings find ways to cope and survive in those moments but can they easily escape the trauma of the experience? You may call it shell-shock, post-traumatic stress disorder or whatever but you eventually have to confront and deal with your demons and somehow move on as was the case in Chris Kyle’s story.

Many analysts and experts believe that the movie is popular because it’s a time in the US to celebrate military, gung-ho or have-a-go heroes. Watching a news clip of people commenting upon seeing the movie, many were lording and admiring Kyle but how do you elevate a sniper to such a status? After actor’s Seth Rogens suggestion of propaganda Sarah Palin, posted on Facebook “Hollywood leftists: while caressing shiny plastic trophies you exchange among one another while spitting on the graves of freedom fighters who allow you to do what you do, just realize the rest of America knows you’re not fit to shine Chris Kyle’s combat boots.” Go Sarah!

Perhaps everyone, except the sniper, is missing the point. Whilst it is a brutal bloodthirsty movie it has every right to exist as we should be free to tell whatever story we wish, fact or fiction. It is neither here nor there if it is propaganda that is up to the audience to decide. All we can wish for is to understand that it is a story worthy of debate and discussion and there is plenty of that.

But it is just a story – the fake doll reminds us of that!  On the other hand there was a real-life Kyle played by a real life Bradley Cooper pretending to be the real-life Kyle in a mocked-up set with a factional script and fictional dialogue, so pick the bones out of that.  And if you still think there’s enough truth beneath all the make-believe for a sniper to hit, take your best shot.

‏STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at www.hrmc.co.bw

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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