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By Aaron Bady
Anyone claiming to be an expert is selling something. I brandish my ignorance like a crucifix at vampires.
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You are totally unreliable Twitter


Your brain is good at making you overconfident about what you see and hear, and it works hard to hide your own unreliability from you.

You think you hear “words” when someone talks to you, for example, but what you actually “hear” is an over-superabundance of noise—waves and waves of messy sensory data splashing through your ears—which parts of your brain that you have no conscious awareness of quietly and efficiently process and transform all that noise into something that your conscious mind can understand. That quiet intermediation is incredibly important, and quite thorough. Your brain eliminates sounds that it decides are not relevant and where there are gaps in what you hear, it deduces what should fill them, and adds them in. It’s startling to realize and take seriously, but much of what you “hear” has already been heavily edited for your consumption, by a part of your brain you aren’t even aware of.

The same is broadly true with vision and memory. You see things, and then a moment later, your brain declares that the memory that you have of what you saw is reliable, a perfect copy. It really isn’t, though. As we’ve learned over and over again, eyewitness testimony is notreliable: we are fully capable of remembering that we saw all sorts of things that weren’t quite there (or of overlooking things that were). The quiet, silent little sub-editor in our heads has not only transcribed your notes from the meeting, but has extensively edited them, cleaned them up, converted the font, and even re-written them with more consistent grammar.

In short, we are always playing a game of telephone with the universe. Our unconscious minds are always taking down garbled transmissions as neat typescripts, or turning impossibly complex slices of visual reality into the kinds of rough line drawings that we could use as a street map. On some level, we know this. We know that sometimes our lying eyes and ears deceive us, or mislead us; to get by, we must be aware of our limitations.

On another level, however, we don’t and can’t. To get by, we must also pretend that we are much more reliable than we are. We must take ourselves on faith, suspend our disbelief in what we see and hear and know. It’s all we have to go on. If we sometimes check the transcript against the original recording, we’ve gotten good at suspending our disbelief, in practice.

Memory, listening, and reading are creative. The most passive-seeming activities can often be quite labor intensive, precisely because it’s a kind of labor that we don’t tend to think very much about. Our brain does that for us. When we are watching the thing we are watching, our brains are processing that visual data into pictures; when we are listening, our brains are processing noise into sounds and signals; when we are sleeping, our brains are processing short term memories into long term memories. And so on. Our unconscious minds are busy.

I’m not any kind of expert on any of this, and I’m not trying to present myself as such. But knowing your own lack of knowledge is a kind of knowledge, too, and these are examples of it: some kinds of knowledge can be relied upon, others cannot, and figuring out how to manage the difference—how to know, or how to estimate, where and how you know what you know is true, and where and how it might not be—is an important skill. It is a certainty that you will make mistakes, constantly and continuously; the question is whether you will be open to that possibility in ways that allow you to correct them. Can you accept that fact that you think you know things that you have actually created? Can you engage with that problem in ways that allow you to mitigate the problems created by it?

As readers—both as readers of texts, and as daily interpreters of things we hear people say—we misread constantly, so much that we might as well regard it as the norm. We misread so much and so often and so invisibly that misreading is the dark matter of our social universe. We must necessarily remain more or less unconscious of the fact that a lot of what we take to be the world we share with each other is, more or less, radically variable from person to person. If I say something, every listener hears it a bit differently; if I do something, every witness remembers it differently; if I write something, every reader interprets it differently. We are the blind man and the elephant, arguing about what this beast is that we’ve found.

We can try to control for this problem—if we don’t pretend it doesn’t exist—but we don’t have many resources in doing so. You can repeat yourself; you can anticipate misreadings and try to correct them; you can even ask your audience to repeat back to you what you’ve said, so that you can clarify and correct. Misreaders are going to misread, and we are all misreaders. Which is why, ultimately, we are always relying on the social contexts and communicative frameworks that govern and clarify where and how we are to listen and understand. In the classroom, students know to listen and hear in particular ways—or they should, if the class is going to work—whereas moviegoers listen and watch in other and very different ways. If you read a non-fiction book, you understand what you are reading in different ways than if you reading what you are told is a novel, or a poem. You will listen to your significant other differently than you will listen to your parents, or children; you will listen differently to someone you’ve just met than to someone you’ve known all your life. And they will speak to you knowing and anticipating that this will be the case, always; we are constantly negotiating the contexts in which we are speaking, and the relationships through which those contexts are construed. Words don’t mean what you want them to mean; they mean lots of things, simultaneously, because of the ways they circulate, are heard, are remembered, and are transformatively interpreted.

Fundamentalist preachers and literary critics, police officers, and Clarence Thomas tend to want to live in a world where we can simply blame the badness of bad readers for this swirling and confusing indeterminacy. If you insist that the words mean what they mean vigorously enough—and if you call upon power to enforce your interpretation—you can maintain the polite fiction that words are self-sufficient. But there’s as much ambiguity in the things we say as there is empty space in the universe. To be a literalist interpreter of texts requires a torturous amount of carefully studied ignorance. But while we are all, of necessity, literalists in how we read—as there is no other way to read—we become dangerous readers when we stop trying to correct for our own failings, when we insist that any misreading is the fault of other people, and narcissistically insist that what we have creatively produced is the real text.

This is why we need more generous readers, and more of them. If you aren’t trying to understand what I think I’m saying—if you’re not trying to reconstruct the patchwork of words and thoughts and references in a sympathetic collaboration with the organic set of ideas that I was trying to stitch together—then you and I are not on the same team, we are working at cross-purposes, and our collaboration is not going to work out. If you don’t presume a base-level of good faith, competence, and insight on my part—and try to correct for your own narcissism, incompetence, and mistakes by also forgiving me for mine—then we are not going to understand each other in any meaningful way. Unless you want to hear what I want to say—and unless we both put in the work—then nothing I can do will change the fact that you will creatively reconstruct my words in ways that will suit you. You may not even know you’re doing it, but your transcription service does it job so efficiently that it gives you what you want even if you don’t ask for it.

For this reason, I try to aspire to read other people with a generosity that I don’t necessarily expect them to deserve. Not because I’m exceptionally selfless—this is why I say that I’d try to aspire to it—but to correct for the fact that I’m extremely selfish in the same familiar and banal way that we all are selfish. It’s because I tend to hear in your words what I want to hear that I need to make an extra effort to hear what you want me to hear. And vice versa.

But this is also why I’ve mostly given up on twitter as a place where it is possible to have meaningful, heated arguments with strangers. I think it’s possible to talk to strangers when you’re not having an argument, or to argue when the person you’re talking to is not really a stranger. But if you don’t know and respect the person you’re talking to (and to some extent, understand where they’re coming from, and want to), and especially if you build up a head of aggressive steam as you set out to crush their arguments, both of you are likely to come away from the exchange pleased and unsatisfied. After pleasantly proving to yourself that you are correct, you will be unsatisfied by the failure of your new mortal enemy to admit it. I describe this experience as a person who has experienced it many times, and who is so very tired of it. But it’s left me thinking that “changing minds” is something that twitter is all but engineered to do poorly. If you think it can be done, more power to you; I hope you are right. For me, it seems like a machine designed for creating mutual enraged incomprehension, an alchemy by which anger plus misunderstanding creates the self-righteous confirmation that I am right and everyone else is wrong. The friction between these divergent confirmations can burn extremely hot.

One reason why this is so, I think, is that “twitter” feels like a public space, but it’s neither public nor a space, and in practice, will always frustrate our expectation that it be those things. After all, when we curate “our” timelines, we do so as if we can control what’s in them and what isn’t, as if our timelines were spaces we have the personal power to regulate (and thus, are semi-private). We often expect to have control over what information enters our feed, and then it turns out that we don’t (and not only over our mentions). If we think and act as if we have control over what we see—as if we are choosing and selecting what sorts of people and voices will appear—we will find that choosing the former does not determine the latter. This is mainly because people are large and eccentric and contain multitudes. If you follow me because I have radical politics, you might be irritated by the fact that I’m obsessed with literature; if you follow me because I tweet about African novels, you might be irritated that I tweet about rape culture; if you follow me because we went to school together, all sorts of things I tweet about may surprise you. In other words, you will find that in inviting me into your timeline, I will probably abuse your hospitality. Yet, to me, you’re the one who followed me; what you might experience as a response to something I said, I can easily experience as an out-of-the-blue invasion of my conversational space.

This produces the sealion problem: we both feel like the other person has intruded on our space. We both feel like we’re just sitting here, in our own homes, and who is this asshole acting like he has a right to be all up in my business? I’ve got things to do; what makes you think you have some god-given right to my time and attention, etc.

Again, part of the problem is that social media can feel like a space, but isn’t. In our embodied social interactions, we’re either in one place or we’re in another, because that’s how bodies in space work: if I’m in your house, we both know it; if you’re in my house, we both know it. If we meet on the street, too, we both know that that is where we are, and what that means (or doesn’t), and so we know to act accordingly. Everywhere and anywhere two people meet, in their bodies, is likely to be a place framed and understood by reference to the social norms that obtain there. But how do you have a conversation with someone where both of you think that you are both in your own house, and both of you act accordingly? Both of you are going to turn out to be assholes. What if I think we are in the street, so I step on my soapbox, but you think you’re in your bedroom, getting ready to go to bed?

What makes twitter a potential perfect storm is that there is no more totally de-contextualized piece of text than a tweet: it’s almost the smallest piece of comprehensible speech it is possible to produce that also feels like a complete thought (or fels like it should be), but there’s nothing more to it than that, that and a name and persona. It has to be self-sufficient, because it has little or no context from which we can deduce what we do not know about it. And yet what text is ever self-sufficient? What piece of data or sensory information is enough, on its own?

In the 1970’s H.P. Grice formulated what has come to be known as the cooperation principle. That latter link is a good introduction to it, but what he articulates in careful academic reasoning is more easily described as, simply, the fact that speakers and listeners have to work with each other to make sense of a conversation. What is actually said is only the tip of an iceberg of assumptions, and without the two speakers more or less sharing a sense of the ground rules for the conversation—and more or less adhering to them, or trying to—the conversation breaks down.

Cooperation doesn’t reliably happen on twitter, I think. We all see the same text, but how often do we each assume a slightly or dramatically different iceberg beneath it? Quite often, I suspect. Yet we have to do this. Nothing we find on twitter would make any sense at all if we didn’t place it in some social context, construe it by reference to assumptions about what it is or what it is doing, and treat those projections as if they were basically valid. We have to assume that we are contextualizing the text correctly. Yet proximity is often misleading, particularly if we presume to know what a subtweet is subtweeting, why, or how; our assumptions about who people are, behind the tweet, are extremely tenuous (and often based in almost no solid information); and our sense of familiarity with people on twitter is illusionary. Like the first audio illusion in this video, the text stays the same while we each place it, mentally, in a different context.

All of which is to say, simply, that I think twitter is particularly well-suited for exacerbating and eliding the basic contradiction I started this piece with: we need to pretend more confidence in our own comprehension than is justified—in order to get by and make meaning—even as we also need to check ourselves, constantly, in order to make up for the moments when our confidence is misplaced. But since we are already divided against ourselves, what happens when you meet someone divided against themselves, and you, also, are divided against yourself, and the two of you start arguing—because you are divided against each other—and you have to tell the difference between a misjudgment of context and a Fundamental misjudgment of The Moral Law of the Universe? One of the most important contextual frames we sometimes apply to twitter, after all, is the notion that we are DOING POLITICS. But if some of us are, some of us aren’t. Sometimes I’m making a joke, because it amuses me; when someone takes that joke as the expression of Political Critique, we are unlikely to find ourselves having a useful communication. Jokes are performative speech; “Critique” is usually understood to be constative. If we don’t observe the difference and allow for it, we can find ourselves taking a joke way too seriously (and thus, misunderstanding what it’s trying to do), or vice versa: a deeply felt assertion of a very serious point can be made fun of, as a humorless person who doesn’t get it.

It occurred to me, yesterday, that you don’t hear the term “flame war” all that often anymore. It occurs to me now that this might be because the old new media (bulletin boards, listservs, blog comments) was structured in such a way that you could talk about one person flaming another person—I was flamed; he flamed me; we flamed each other, etc—and that this transitive verb could have an object because there was a sense of a space being crossed by the abuse being hurled. There could be a thrust and counter-thrust dynamic, a reply and counter-reply.

“Twitter” is an oversimplification. There are many twitters, which is also part of the problem: my twitter and yours are different, but they can come into contact with each other and overlap, and do. We can each think the other person is a holographic projection into our living room, and the rooms are similar enough that we can overlook the ways they are different (and then blame the other person for coming into our house and acting like an asshole). But this also means that talking about what “twitter” is or isn’t, or does, or doesn’t, is a similar exercise in polemic misunderstanding. If the underlying structure of the program is a constant, the conversational norms and practical methods we bring to it will vary, radically and dramatically. Some of the problem is the latter thing: people not only use twitter differently, but they sometimes regard other people’s use of it as illegitimate or wrong. Policing other people on twitter can become particularly heated and vicious, if a police from one jurisdiction comes into another, without knowing it, and attempts to apply one set of laws to someone who thinks they’re operating in another. It rarely ends well. And yet if we keep pretending that there is one twitter (ours), we’ll keep crashing into each other and insisting that it’s the other car that came into my lane. Twitter road rage.

One generalization I’d advance about “twitter,” however, is that it’s so space-less, and also so rapid, that instead of flame wars, we now have nuclear conflagrations, chain reactions that explode fast and hot and with such all-encompassing bitterness that it happens in time, not space. We know when it began, and we can tell when it starts to cool, but it can be almost impossible to tell who and why people are fighting (even as we decide that we do know, but disagree about it, making the arguments all the more intractable). That it happened is the only thing you and I both know, but who, what, why, where, and how get lost in the blast, leaving each of us disagreeing as much about what we disagree about as the disagreement itself.

* * *

Reading You are Unreliable Twitter

The Souls of Drone Folk

Chris Kyle lived by the sword and died by it. If I were religious, I might pray for his soul. I imagine that his soul could use the prayers. He was a serial killer, seemed quite viciously racist, and he said a great many things about himself that appear not to be true, but which would be really horrifying if they were true. He once bragged about killing thirty “looters” in New Orleans after Katrina, to pick just one example, and it’s a good thing he was making that up. Imagine if, in the middle of one of the worst disasters in recent American memory, Chris Kyle set out to execute people who took much-needed food and supplies from the shelves where they had been left. Imagine if he went to New Orleans not to bring supplies and relief, but to finish the job started by the hurricane. The monstrousness of this desire staggers the imagination, but it apparently did not stagger his: he was apparently happy to imagine that this is what he had done. It is a good thing he was a liar. But what kind of person would pretend that he had done such a thing, would invent that fantasy and brag about it to his fellow SEALS, later? Is such a human being still human? If we have souls, then spare some prayers for his.

Chris Kyle was a drone. The metaphor is apt on so many levels that it isn’t even a metaphor. It’s just a simple description. He was a drone, a machine for killing without conscience. You might even describe him as “un-manned.”

Over at the Atlantic, Megan Garber doesn’t use that word, but she made the analogy quite plainly without it, calling a sniper “an almost mythical union of man and gun, a modern-day mixture of centaur and centurion” and “the closest the military has come to creating a human killing machine”:

The sniper may, like other soldiers, be subject to the cold anonymities of bombs and bullets. But his mission is specialized, and personalized. He finds his target, moving and warm. He aims. He “eliminates” and “neutralizes” and every other euphemism we use to separate the logic of war from the logic of murder.

I haven’t seen American Sniper, but I’ve seen the trailer, and that was plenty. A trailer is a movie’s tl;dr, the essential kernel of a movie’s case for itself. This trailer does a lot of work:

The trailer shows a drone operator, seeing all and making the call. A man on a phone; he chooses not to shoot. A woman and child; he chooses not to shoot. The woman gives the child an explosive; he agonizes. The child begins to trot towards some troops; he hesitates. He suffers. He makes a decision. The trailer ends.

We don’t see him shoot, of course, though we know that he has done so. The information presented in the trailer has been sufficient to know exactly what the right thing to do is. We have literally seen the child carrying an explosive—which Kyle precisely identifies as an RKG-3 Russian grenade—and we see the child running towards a group of vulnerable and unsuspecting American Troops. If he shoots the child, he will Save American Lives; if he doesn’t, American Lives Will Be Lost. It is his job to save American lives by killing non-Americans, and we know that he is good at his job. Obviously he pulls the trigger.


Does he regret it? Do we?

A drone, a real drone, would be a soulless killing machine, a terminator. And this is what Chris Kyle apparently was: remorseless, lacking in empathy, able to thoroughly dehumanize the people he killed. He was a good sniper, and those are qualities that make a good sniper.

The story told in that trailer is a version of the anecdote with which Chris Kyle begins his book, a prologue entitled “Evil in the Crosshairs.” But Eastwood has told it very differently. His trailer shows us an empathic, tortured soldier forced to make a decision—indeed, he has to make that decision on his own, because only he can see what’s happening. His spotter reminds him that “they’ll burn you if you’re wrong,” implying that the safe choice would be to be cautious, not to shoot. Then we see a soldier in a hospital bed, reminding us the cost in American Lives of too much caution. To add another level of pressure onto our hero, the camera has been cutting back and forth between Kyle-as-sniper and Kyle-as-paterfamilias, doing so with the same jarring and unsettling ease that a drone operator in Northern Virginia might feel, hovering over the Pakistan by day—an all-seeing God of War—and driving home to the suburbs after work, there to pretend to be a normal all-American patriarch of an all American family. In my favorite image of the trailer, we see the father as drone, threatening child:


This forced parallel—between the Kyle-as-sniper, killing a child, and Kyle-as-father, hovering above his own child—is Clint Eastwood ratcheting up the tension between white protector and white killer. Eastwood makes us see that a child is a child is a child: in killing a child, the camera agonizes, Kyle was killing a child like his own. More importantly, Eastwood makes us see Kyle seeing that. The emphasis is not on the lives that are extinguished, but on the killer who does so. We are forced to feel—through Bradley Cooper’s soulful eyes and haunted memory—an ambivalence about killing that Chris Kyle shows no sign of having felt.


In the prologue to his book, Chris Kyle tells the story quite differently. The scene is set in “Late March 2003. In the area of Nasiriya, Iraq,” and begins with these words:

“I looked through the scope of the sniper rifle, scanning down the road of the tiny Iraqi town. Fifty yards away, a woman opened the door of a small house and stepped outside with her child.”

A moment later, he shoots her, saving lives.

Several things strike you, if you read this scene expecting to find Bradley Cooper’s ambivalence, the courage to make a hard or impossible choice (and the suffering that follows). For one thing, there is no individual agency. Kyle doesn’t make the decision (none of this “they’ll take your badge if you’re wrong” stuff); he sees something yellow, is told that it’s a grenade, is told to shoot, and he does shoot. He’s not a cowboy; he’s an executioner, just one piece of a complex machine. He does his job, does what he is told to do:

“Marines are coming,” said my chief as the building began to shake. “Keep watching.”

I looked through the scope. The only people who were moving were the woman and maybe a child or two nearby.

I watched our troops pull up. Ten young, proud Marines in uniform got out of their vehicles and gathered for a foot patrol. As the Americans organized, the woman took something from beneath her clothes, and yanked at it.

She’d set a grenade. I didn’t realize it at first.

“Looks yellow,” I told the chief, describing what I saw as he watched himself. “It’s yellow, the body–”

“She’s got a grenade,” said the chief. “That’s a Chinese grenade.”


“Take a shot.”


“Shoot. Get the grenade. The Marines–”

I hesitated. Someone was trying to get the Marines on the radio, but we couldn’t reach them. They were coming down the street, heading toward the woman.

“Shoot!” said the chief.

I pushed my finger against the trigger. The bullet leapt out. I shot. The grenade dropped. I fired again as the grenade blew up.

It was the first time I’d killed anyone while I was on the sniper rifle. And the first time in Iraq–and the only time–I killed anyone other than a male combatant.

This scene sets the tone for the entire book. Given the heavy-handed symbolism of Eastwood’s version—cutting back and forth, again and again, between white mother and child and Iraqi mother and child, just to make sure you absolutely get it—I don’t think it’s quite inappropriate to look awry at some of these details. For example, the first time the real Chris Kyle kills—his first time—it’s a woman who hides something threatening under her clothes that he kills with his gun. He does it for his brothers. Eastwood wants to make us feel anguish about children and parents, but the real Chris Kyle was minding those the “Ten young, proud Marines in uniform,” much less a patriarch than a fratriarch. Eastwood gives us the ambivalence of a father killing a child; Kyle gives us bros before hoes: to protect his brothers, he must kill this woman, and does.

Chris Kyle liked to tell stories that suited his worldview more than they matched the actual world, so it’s not surprising that the details of his story support the justice of his actions. In his account, women and children are not collateral damage, but clear and present dangers. While reassuring us that the vast majority of people he kills are men, he also shows us how women and children are legitimate targets. More importantly, despite the “fog of war,” the decision to kill is the right one. Chris Kyle has a little bit of information—he sees something yellow—and it is enough to act on. It is a grenade. It is always a grenade.

He regrets nothing. The apologia that follows this scene is the kind of murderous sociopathology that we would expect to hear at an unrepentant defendant’s sentencing hearing, rather than in the prologue to a bestselling memoir. This is a killer saying he regrets nothing, and would kill again:

It was my duty to shoot, and I don’t regret it. The woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn’t take any Marines with her.

It was clear that not only did she want to kill them, but she didn’t care about anybody else nearby who would have been blown up by the grenade or killed in the firefight. Children on the street, people in the houses, maybe her child . . .

She was too blinded by evil to consider them. She just wanted Americans dead, no matter what.

My shots saved several Americans, whose lives were clearly worth more than that woman’s twisted soul. I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job. But I truly, deeply hated the evil that woman possessed. I hate it to this day.

Savage, despicable evil. That’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy “savages.” There really was no other way to describe what we encountered there.

People ask me all the time, “How many people have you killed?” My standard response is, “Does the answer make me less, or more, of a man?”

The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives. Everyone I shot in Iraq was trying to harm Americans or Iraqis loyal to the new government.

Chris Kyle was a drone if he was a machine that would kill without needing to know why, and which would not regret it afterward. He showed no sign of having a soul. People have asserted that Chris Kyle was a racist, but if we take his book seriously, then he was something much worse. He was a machine for killing. A racist hates a particular kind of person, not only deems them less than human but needs or wants to hate them for some human, broken reason. A racist hates particularly. But Chris Kyle was not that. He didn’t hate the Iraqi people in particular, because he didn’t care enough about them to hate them. It wasn’t about them; it was about him. If necessary, he would kill anyone. Anyone could be a non-person. Anyone could be evil. Anyone could be a savage, and the moment they’re a savage, it becomes necessary to exterminate them.

Drones are a solution to the problem that human beings start off with souls, and need to be taught to kill. Unmanned aircraft, they solve the problem of a human disinclination to kill women and children without mercy. These are problems for the U.S. military, now that—since Vietnam or so—the default mode of military engagement is occupation and counter-insurgency, the U.S. military finds itself killing lots of people who aren’t holding a gun and shooting at you. A person with a soul might hesitate to fire missiles at a wedding party. This is a problem because the way you crush an insurgency is to be maximally bloodthirsty, to kill and kill and kill, without hesitation or reservation, and then to kill some more. This is a lesson that colonial occupying powers learned over and over again, over the course of the long 19th and 20th century imperial era, and it remains true today. There is very little that an invading, occupying power can do to “win” hearts and minds; it can only destroy enough of them that the rest go silent, for a while.

On some level, the US “lost” the Vietnam war because it was politically impossible to be indiscriminately murderous enough to win. It was always possible to “win” these wars: as WWII reminds us, a good way to make an occupation successful is to drop a nuclear bomb on a city. And then drop another one, just to show you can. Obviously, this kind of “victory” needs some incredibly strong scare quotes. But as John Rambo became massively popular in the 1980’s by explaining, “we” could have won the war in Vietnam if they’d let us win, ad this is the kind of fantasy victory we weren’t allowed by reality to have. All “we” would have had to do was treat the entire country as a legitimate military target, and accept the fact that we might have to burn down every village in order to save them, along the model of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After all, if you exterminate all the brutes, then the problem is solved.

There are reasons why this was not done, of course—though the military came a lot closer to killing anything that moves in Vietnam than was or is generally recognized—but one of them is that genocide would have hurt the Democrats electorally. Alas! It was therefore always necessary to distinguish the naked and unrelenting military terrorism that would be required to crush a guerrilla insurgency from the honorable military campaigns that American voters were willing to accept and imagine. Euphemisms kept “our” hands clean, or clean enough, to pretend that moments of clarity, like “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it,” were the exception rather than the rule.

In this nonsense sense, “we” also “lost” in Iraq; we could have won the war, if we had been willing to kill indiscriminately, to murder millions quickly (rather than merely kill hundreds of thousands slowly). The insurgency dragged on because we didn’t simply drop the bomb on Baghdad and destroy the city. There are reasons why we didn’t do that, of course, but it was never unthinkable; as terms like “shock and awe” remind us, we have always known what we had to do to “win” the war: kill basically everybody. Bomb them into the stone age, etc. Make Baghdad into a parking lot. Etcetera. And as Bijal Trivedi observed at the time, the bombing of Baghdad didn’t “trigger” shock and awe because it was too precise:

“Even after several days of bombing the Iraqis showed remarkable resilience. Many continued with their daily lives, working and shopping, as bombs continued to fall around them. According to some analysts, the military’s attack was perhaps too precise. It did not trigger shock and awe in the Iraqis and, in the end, the city was only captured after close combat on the outskirts of Baghdad.”

Note the logic of this paragraph: the desired effect was not achieved because “Many [Iraqis] continued with their daily lives.” Which is to imply without quite saying the underlying fantasy of the shock and awe campaign: the desired effect was that many Iraqis not continue with their daily lives. The US military has the technological capacity to do this. If they were willing to kill, say, half the population of Baghdad, maybe the war would have been over in weeks. If not, they could then kill the other half.

If Chris Kyle didn’t have it within his power to kill 50% of the population of Baghdad, American Sniper shows that he would have done so, if he were told to do so. Iraqi lives are meaningless to him. As he writes:

I didn’t risk my life to bring democracy to Iraq. I risked my life for my buddies, to protect my friends and fellow countrymen. I went to war for my country, not Iraq. My country sent me out there so that bullshit wouldn’t make its way back to our shores. I never once fought for the Iraqis. I could give a flying fuck about them.

If you “could give a flying fuck about them,” and if your paramount objective is to keep “that bullshit” from coming to the USA, then logically, why wouldn’t you simply kill all of them? Why would there be an upper limit to how many people you would kill? The answer is that there wouldn’t be. If you take seriously the things he says—if you believe him when he says things like this—then you cannot escape the logical conclusion of such sentiments, which is that dropping the bomb on Baghdad is probably the best way to proceed. But, failing that, you could settle for just shooting 255 people. If you “believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives,” as he wrote, then there is nothing surprising in the fact that his one real regret was “I only wish I had killed more.”

Eastwood’s film gives Chris Kyle a soul, puts a ghost in the machine. Instead of cog in a killing machine—skillful precisely to the extent that he could give a flying fuck about “them”—Eastwood makes Kyle a killer with a conscience, torn between competing necessities: to be a killer and to be a dad. Bradley Cooper’s character needs to have it both ways—as we do—and so he is torn apart by the contradiction. He agonizes. He is scarred. In the grand tradition of Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, war is hell for the winner. Let’s pray for Chris Kyle’s soul by hoping that Bradley Cooper got it right. Let’s pray he wasn’t the sociopath his own words make him out to be. Because what’s chilling about Chris Kyle’s book is that there is no sign of any such conflict. War is fun. Killing is love:

I loved what I did. I still do. If circumstances were different–if my family didn’t need me–I’d be back in a heartbeat. I’m not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun. I had the time of my life being a SEAL. People try to put me in a category as a bad-ass, a good ol’ boy, asshole, sniper, SEAL, and probably other categories not appropriate for print. All might be true on any given day. In the end, my story, in Iraq and afterward, is about more than just killing people or even fighting for my country. It’s about being a man. And it’s about love as well as hate.

Being a man is killing a woman is love is hate. Support the troops. Give a flying fuck. Be a drone.

A Note To My Readers


I’m probably gonna keep blogging, as long as it works for me. Whenever I feel like doing it, I probably will, you know?


The Things We Do

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is one of my favorite new novelists–see my profile of her “Let’s Tell This Story,” and my interview with her, “Postcoloniality Sells“–and she’s allowed me to post a short excerpt from her second novel, Nnambi, a work in progress. The novel is about a ten year old girl, Kirabo, growing  up under the shadow of an absent mother.

village morning

May 1975

Once a day came?” Kirabo’s ten years old voice cut shrilly through the chatter of the teenagers. Their heads turned. The silence that fell could have brought down trees. Two dozen eyes bore into Kirabo. For some time, because of the silence, Kirabo’s call resonated in the air. Gradually, the teenagers’ ‘how dare’ turned to sullen anger.

Another child might have been intimidated by the umbrage. Not Kirabo. She stared straight, her mouth in a defiant pout. She was the kabejja of her grandparents, all the love in the house belonged to her. Tonight the teenagers, her uncles and aunts, would listen to her story. But Kirabo’s large eyes – the eyes were the first thing you saw on Kirabo’s skinny self – with eyelids darker than shadows and eyelashes as long as brush bristles, betrayed her. They blinked rapidly, a sign that she was not immune to the air in the room. Yet, for her, it had come to this; either she muscled her way through the incessant gossip and giggles of the big boys and girls or she would never tell the story.

No answer to her call.

The teenagers sat up on double-decker beds – some lay, some sat with their legs dangling, all were squeezed, two or three on a bed. They had gathered in the girls’ bedroom, as they normally did after supper, to converse. Though Kirabo was not welcome to these chatters, she always sneaked into the room. Today the teenagers did not notice her until she called out. By then it was too late to throw her out.

Kirabo sat, leg tucked under her bottom, on the floor close to a kerosene candle. It lit the room only partially, throwing her shadow, elongated like a mural and twitchy like a spectre, against the wall. The teenagers’ refusal to respond to her call made her falter. She looked down at the candle’s yellow flame. A slender column of smoke rose and streamed steadily up, up to the beams. The flame was puny and vulnerable. It had flickered when she called out.


Kirabo could not begin her story until she was invited by the listeners. A savage thought occurred to her. She would whistle the candle out and turn the room blind dark. And to annoy them properly she would say, kalyonso, as you do to someone who deserves their aggravation. She would then scamper off to Grandfather’s bedroom taking the matchbox with her, leaving them squirming in the dark. Then they would have reason to be sullen.

Kirabo’s good-self, the sensible one, prevailed. She cradled the candle flame between her palms to protect it from her breath. Her evil-self, which brought on rash and destructive thoughts, retreated. Her breathing slowed, her palms fell away from the flame and she looked up briefly. Whenever an injustice happened to Kirabo, her evil-self reared its head and did horrible things.

Still no response.

It was getting awkward. The surly air felt sticky on the back of her neck. Grandmother and Grandfather had retired to their bedrooms, otherwise they would have replied to her call by now. Kirabo pursed her lips tight. Why were there so many big boys and girls in her home? Sometimes the sheer number of them in the house made her feel like a calf in a kraal. Most of them came on the bus from nowhere, uninvited, and crowded her home as if it was a bus station. They arrived at the beginning of the first school term and the following day Grandfather took them to one of the three secondary schools close by. After that, they became part of the family, calling Grandmother maama and Grandfather taata.

Kirabo tried to blink away her bad thoughts. The teenagers came because her grandfather, Miiro, was good at keeping children in school. He was on the board of governors for all three secondary schools and his house was close by them. Also, they were nieces and nephews of her grandparents. Still she wanted to say, go back wherever you came from if you don’t want to listen to my stories.

“Kin, you were our eyes.”

Grandfather’s invitation, from the room next door, leapt over the wall and Kirabo sat up. He was listening! Her face was a beam of triumph. Grandfather had felt the teenagers’ rejection and intervened. Kirabo was exultant. She had worked hard on her story. She had told it to Giibwa – her best friend when they did not fight – and she was envious, awed. Then she tried it on Grandmother, and everyone knew Grandmother did waste words on empty compliments. She had said, “Your skill is growing.” The day before, when Kirabo took the goats to graze, she stood on top of an anthill and told it to the plain – singing the song, clapping and swaying and gesticulating, her voice carrying far and the story had come out so perfect that the goats stood in silence.

Now she started again,

Once a day came when a man called Luzze married his woman! …

“Mswuu,” a lad close-by sucked his teeth quietly, “would he marry your woman instead?’

Kirabo ignored him.

They had many children, but alas, they were all girls…

“Aaaah!” a girl sighed as if the story was already predictable, not worth listening to.

Luzze became sad as every birth the woman brought forth another girl. At first, Luzze thought it was just bad luck that only girl children kept coming. But then the woman turned it into a habit; every time, girl, girl, girl, girl, eh!

Finally, Luzze decided to do something about it. He summoned the woman inside the house. She came in from the kitchen and knelt before him. Luzze adjusted himself on his stool and started,

You’ve let me down,” Kirabo’s voice was now deep. “Every time you’ve done nothing but bring forth a girl.” He paused and puffed on his pipe thoughtfully, “I’ve been thinking,” Luzze paused again. “I’ve decided to bring someone else to help you.”

Kirabo took a breath. The air in the room had not yet forgiven her.

That year Luzze married another woman. They had many children but once again they were all girls. Luzze despaired, Kirabo dropped her head. “What is wrong with me? Why do I marry girl-bearing women?” Luzze wished that girl-bearing women were labelled so he could avoid them. But still he took his chance and married yet another woman. She bore him many children, but once again, they were all girls.

One day, when he had had enough, Luzze called all his three women into the house and announced,

 “From today onwards,” he had no pipe this time, he jabbed a finger at each woman in turn, “if you or you or you bears me another female, don’t bother bringing her home.”

The women went away frightened. Each knew that unless something was done, she would bring home a daughter the following year.

That year, the women worked harder. Eventually, they all fell pregnant. The first one to deliver had a daughter; one look at the offensive child and she was packing. The second woman too delivered; it was a girl and she left with her daughter. When the third delivered, it was a boy! Oh, she held her breasts with joy. But wait; there was something left in the stomach. She pushed and out came a hefty girl. The woman despaired. She looked first at her son and then at the daughter, at the son again and then the daughter. She made up her mind.

Next to her was an anthill – you know in those days babies were delivered in banana plantations. The anthill had a big hole that opened into the ground. The woman picked up the baby girl and stuffed her inside the hole. She promised to come back later and feed her. Then, with the boy properly swathed in backcloth, she carried him home and presented him to Luzze.

Oh, the celebrations. The jubilation. They went on for weeks and weeks.

Luzze named the boy Mulinde because he had waited a long time for him. Meanwhile, every day, the woman crept back to the plantation and nursed her daughter. Every time as she stuffed her back into the hole, the woman would shhhh her, “Stay quiet: we don’t want to be discovered!” But as the daughter grew older, she devised songs to keep herself company and to make the darkness bearable. Meanwhile, Mulinde played out in the gardens and in the fields and ran up the hills and climbed the trees.

One day, Mulinde walked towards the anthill. When he got closer, he heard a sweet but sad voice singing,

We were born multiple like twins – Wasswa.

But father had dropped a heavy word – Wasswa.

That if you bear a girl, don’t bring her home – Wasswa.

But a boy, a boy, bring the boy home – Wasswa.

I keep my own company with song – Wasswa.

Oh Wasswa you are a lie – Wasswa.

Oh Wasswa you are a lie – Wasswa.”

Even though Mulinde was not a twin, the song tugged at his heart. Even when he went home the song would not leave him alone. The following day he was drawn back to the anthill to hear the song and the day after and every day. At mealtime, he kept some of his food – that was all he could think of – and when he got a chance, he crept to the banana plantation and threw the food down the hole of the anthill. Still the sad song came.

Eventually, Luzze noticed that Mulinde was growing cheerless. When he asked him what was wrong, Mulinde had no words to explain his misery. Luzze was so troubled that he kept a close eye on him. In time, he observed a pattern. Firstly, Mulinde did not eat all his food: he hid some. Then he disappeared into the plantation with the food. For a while, Luzze let it pass: children play all sorts of games.

But then it went on and on until Luzze decided to follow the boy. What he saw almost blinded him. Mulinde walked up to the anthill in the matooke plantation and when he got close, the anthill started to sing. Instead of running away, Mulinde walked right up to the anthill and threw his food down the hole. The song stopped but after a short pause, the anthill sang again – a sad tormenting song.

Luzze ran home and sounded the ‘nation come’ alarm drums – gwanga mujje, gwanga mujje, gwanga mujje.

All men, wherever they were, whatever they were doing, picked up their weapons and converged in Luzze’s courtyard armed with shields and spears, bows and arrows and, e mbukuli!

When they had gathered, Luzze addressed them,

 “Brothers, this is not for shivering cowards. Something beyond words is in my plantation, inside an anthill,” he pointed towards the matooke plantation. Whatever it is, we must approach with caution. I suggest that liquid hearted men stay here with the women.”

The real men, warriors mostly, tightened their girdles and started by surrounding the banana plantation. Slowly, they closed in on the anthill – their tread soft as if the earth would crumble, palms sweating around the spears, muscles strained as they crouched – until the anthill was tightly surrounded. Sure enough it started to sing. The bravest, Luzze – it was his own garden – put his spear down and started to dig the anthill. The others watched.

After a long while of digging deftly, of scratching carefully and of scooping the earth away, a girl child emerged. She was fully-formed only crumpled. The men threw their spears down and wiped their sweat – what else could they do in the face of a singing child?

Even though the sun blinded her and she had to shield her eyes with her hand to look at the huge warriors, even though she was as pale as a queen termite from the lack sunshine, even though she was surrounded by a vast world she did not understand, the girl sang again.

“We were born multiple like twins – Wasswa.

But father had dropped a heavy word – Wasswa.

That if you bear a girl don’t bring her home – Wasswa.

But a boy, a boy, bring him home – Wasswa. …”

Luzze listened to the song and looked at his son. He took a long look at the girl and then at his son again. They were twins! Kdto! His anger mounted. When he was properly swollen, he exploded,

“Where is she,” and lodged his spear into the earth with such force that it quivered.

The misnaming of his family! A Wasswa called Mulinde? And the poor girl denied of sunlight? Then there was himself – Ssalongo, the ultra-virile called mere Luzze like ordinary men!  

“Today she shall see me,” he promised the world. “She should get off my land before I kill her. I should not find her in my house.” 

But apart from Luzze’s anger, nothing else was said; just a long hush that fell over the warriors and over the banana plantation and stretched up to where the women and the cowards stood. From time to time, the warriors shook their heads and sucked their teeth and sighed, but they had no words to say. Their spears lay useless on the ground. You see, in the face of a singing child, the weapons accused the warriors.

“Women,” one of the warriors finally started, “the way they seem so weak and helpless that you look at them kindly. But I am telling you beneath that helplessness they’re deep, a dangerous depth without a bottom!” He nailed the last words into a fist with an invisible hammer. “You live with them, love them and have children with them like they are fellow humans, but wuuubi,” and he whistled, “I am telling you right here, right now, you know nothing – you know nothing about them.”

“Kdto! Even then my brother,” the other man shook his head quietly, “this one,” he pointed to the anthill, “is a woman and a half.”

At that moment I decided to leave. The other men were restraining Luzze lest he did something they would all regret. The women, now having drawn close to the anthill to see the child for themselves, were especially wrathful that a woman who woke up one morning and developed breasts, could bury her own child in an anthill! What about the other women that left with their daughters? Weren’t they women enough?  It was such women that brought disgrace on all womankind. “And you wonder why the world thinks that all women all evil.”

Much as I wanted to stay and see it all, I, Kirabo, could not wait for the woman’s retribution. I hurried back home on these feet, Kirabo pointed to her feet to show that indeed she had just arrived from storyland, to tell the tale.

There was such silence all over the house that Kirabo became uneasy. Her eyes darted here and there. Had her story not regaled them as she had hoped? Then, Miiro broke out,

“Ohhhh: is this a griot or is she something else?” He clapped his hands. “Ah ah! I’ve never seen anything like this before! Ktdo,” he clicked his tongue, “this child is just like my grandmother. When my grandmother raised her voice in a tale, kdto, even the mice fell silent.”

“Dala dala!” Grandmother agreed quietly.

No one else complimented Kirabo. The boys slid off the beds and ambled towards their bedroom. The girls stretched and yawned.

Kirabo’s head dropped and her eyes started to burn. That was when she asked,

“Where is my mother?” It was a whisper. Her lower lip, widening with hurt, quivered. “I want to go to my mother,” she lifted her right hand to her eyes. There was no doubt in Kirabo’s mind that her own mother would have loved that story.

The big boys and girls snapped to attention. Suddenly they marvelled at Kirabo’s skills. If Miiro heard what Kirabo had just said and knew that she had been made to long for her mother, someone was going to cry. Kirabo had to be consoled before she went to bed: Kirabo slept in her grandfather’s bedroom.

“Did you hear her story,” someone asked belatedly, “that child is gifted.”

“Too gifted,” a boy said, “I could not tell stories like that at her age.”

“You must be sleepy Kirabo,” one of the girls, Gayi, caressed her cheek. “I’ll take you outside so you can relieve yourself before you go to bed.” She pulled Kirabo’s hand away from the eyes and held it lovingly. Gayi led her out of the bedroom, into the sitting room, where she picked up a hurricane lamp, and outside the house. But their attention had come too late; Kirabo had already slumped into self-pity.

“I must be a witch,” she whispered to Gayi as she squatted to pass water. But Kirabo did not explain that she was a witch because she had two selves, that one did bad things and flew out of her body, because even Gayi would not understand. She was peeing near the bustani hedge that grew around the toilet and the open bath cubicle. Though she was not allowed to squat there, no one told her off. She did not want to go inside the dark toilet because of the lizards and cockroaches and knew that the teenagers would not dare stop her for fear of making her cry.

“Don’t say things like that, Kirabo.”

“Then where is she?”

“We don’t know: no one knows,” Gayi shook her head sadly. “In God’s truth, the one in heaven, we don’t know!”

Everyone else was silent. Kirabo could feel their anxiety as if she had opened a door they would rather keep closed. She did not believe they did not know who her mother was; had she fallen from the sky?

“Don’t think about her Kirabo,” Gayi brought the hurricane lamp close to Kirabo’s face and looked in her eyes. “Think about your father, Tom, and how he loves you.”

At this there were a lot kyekyo and dala dala from the teenagers as if they had rehearsed a chorus.

“And then you know how Grandmother and Grandfather will give up the world for you,” Gayi added.

“Too true,” a boy agreed, “if you died today, Kirabo, I swear those two would offer to be buried instead of you.”

Kirabo smiled despite her misery. Those three, Tom and her grandparents loved her beyond words. Grandmother loved her quietly but Grandfather’s love was very loud. As for Tom, his love was in a hurry; Kirabo had not yet learnt to call him taata because everyone else called him Tom. Still, Kirabo thought, again they have avoided telling me about my mother. She could not ask her grandparents about her because, if she did, it would be saying to them that their love was not enough.

She waited for the big boys and girls taking turns to use the toilet. She looked up at the sky. The moon was mean and remote, the stars static and scanty. Night was indifferent. A shooting star fell from the sky but before she gasped, kibunomu, it was gone. Where was her mother? What was she doing? Perhaps she rejected her because she knew she had given birth to a child with two selves. A mother would know such things. Perhaps she had known that her child would become a witch and she abandoned her. Did she start to fly out of her body when she was a baby? The thought filled Kirabo with dread. Her skin started to thicken with goose pimples. If only she could stop the flights!

It was then, as she rubbed the goose bumps on her arms, that Kirabo decided to consult Nsuuta, the village witch. One problem stood in the way to Nsuuta, she was Grandmother’s enemy. Visiting her would be not only to indulge in sorcery. It would be to betray Grandmother. Witchery, treachery, committing both atrocities at once. But that night, considering the situation, with the night being so scornful, and none of her family offering to help find her mother, and with the fear that she might be a witch hanging over her, Kirabo decided that Nsuuta was the only option.

American Snipper


American Snipper is so good but holy shit im tired American Snipper is a must watch film Going to see American Snipper with dad tonight. I could really regret this as I hate violent films American snipper was an amazing movie. Chills all throughout. Thank you Chief Kyle for your service. I’ve never been in a theatre that was so quiet after a movie like it just was after American Snipper American Snipper was hands down da best movie I’ve seen in a minute. Leaving American Snipper in tears. Such an amazing movie. Deffs wanna see American Snipper American Snipper is awesome. 1 of the best movies I’ve ever seen. How do we silence the liberals. God Bless Our Soldiers. Saw American Snipper and I am speechless. God Bless our armed forces and all the sacrifices they make. American snipper was a good reminder that freedom is never free 3rd time to go see American Snipper. Still a tear dropper at the end no matter who I go with I slept a lot during american snipper but the parts I saw were great american snipper is such a good movie Finally watched American snipper. It was greaatt! I have not gone to movie for over 15 years but I am now going to see American Snipper after the snow storms American snipper is the best movie I’ve seen in a while American snipper is the saddest movie I’ve ever seen! The things that all went down I couldn’t imagine happening. Really opened my eyes. American Snipper was very good. It makes me wish I was 18 already! American Snipper hit home hard af and I don’t think I’ve cried this hard in a movie If you didn’t at least tear up once during American Snipper you have no heart American Snipper makes you realize what those guys deal with over there, and how much they sacrifice for this country. American snipper was such a good movie omg brb while I dry my tears still American Snipper like changed my point of view on everyone who fights for our country Either wanna see American Snipper or Selma next Friday. After seeing American Snipper, I am truly grateful for everything that the soldiers do for us! AMERICAN SNIPPER GOT ME EMOTIONAL ASF Just watched American Snipper. War is such an abominable thing. It destroys every aspect of humanity. War should be avoided at all costs. American Snipper was legitimately breathtaking American snipper was so good but so sad I’m about to watch American snipper.. It’s so fucking packed in here! This shit better be good! Everyone keeps talking about American snipper!! Someone come see it with me tomorrow!!! It should be mandated that every American citizen sees American Snipper I’m left speechless. American Snipper was incredible! American Snipper was such a captivating movie! Very moved by the American Snipper movie and impressed by the respect in the theater. Proud to be a American. Best wishes to his family. American Snipper really moved me. A man with extra ordinary skill, fighting for his country to protect the people he loved. After seeing american snipper I feel like I need to join the army and do something with my life but I know I could never do that Yay about to watch american snipper American Snipper was by far one of the best movies I’ve seen. Thankful for all the men and women who serve our country American Snipper left me with no words and so much respec American snipper is without a doubt the best movie I’ve ever seen! American snipper is the best movie ever and really makes me proud to be American American Snipper is by far one of the most amazing movies i’ve seen American snipper made me cry We already seen American Snipper & the other good ones. The rest dont seem that good. It’s too cold to be outside , so I’m watching American snipper while babys outside with the guys . American Snipper with Justin, pool with some friends. And now time to have fun! guys I just got done watching American snipper and I’m fucking bawling my eyes out American Snipper depicts how the war can mess you up in the head… people end up goin crazy as hell after that type of stuff Guess I’m not cool enough to be seen with at the movies with either of my kids!! Asked them to go to see American Snipper with me and nope I wanna go watch Selma or American Snipper today, not no one wants to go with me American snipper was vvvv good My dad likes spoiling the movie “American snipper” to everyone hahah American snipper was the worst film I’ve seen in ages, so boring. Seeing American Snipper tonight would make my whole night American snipper and some subway! This is going to be a good night! I wanna see American Snipper so bad holy My principle (a rich, old white man) promoted American Snipper during our pep rally today telling us to go see it bc we’ll appreciate American snipper was a great movie. Very moving. I suggest you see it if you haven’t American snipper a pretty damn good movie, then again anything directed by Clint Eastwood is pretty great I’m watching American Snipper and honestly it kinda sucks so I’m about to go to my room lol American snipper was good but I def like lone survivor bette Just finished American snipper what the actual fuck IF YOU DON LIK AMERICAN SNIPPER YOU ARE NOT A REAL AMERICAN & YOU SUPORT ISSI I would go see american snipper again If someone doesn’t go see American Snipper with me tomorrow I’m going by myself. Ugh it upsets me that American Snipper & Selma came out on the same day yet American Snipper gets all the hype. I saw both, Both were good. Seeing American snipper today with my dad American Snipper: Nice seeing the perspective of a soldier, funny how things parents say to you sticks. Good seeing that side of Bradley… American Snipper has just reached my top 10 fav movies list The ending of American snipper is sad lol

American Snipper or The Boy Next Door? I’m going to the movies alone this weekend I NEED to watch the American snipper might just go watch it tomorrow alone Everybody talking bout that American snipper movie but that some shit you watch alone when it come on DVD incase your eyes start to itch If  doesn’t come see American snipper with me this weekend, I will go alone.  Still got tickets to see american snipper but dont have anyone to go with & i dont wanna go alone ;-( I need to go see American Snipper!! Don’t even care if I go alone. I’m going see american snipper one of these days even if I go alone idc I’m literally about to go see American snipper alone