Rep. Ryan Zinke: Rogen and Moore ‘Have No Understanding of Real Sacrifice’

Ryan Zinke /
Ryan Zinke /

In the wake of the record-breaking commercial and critical success of Clint Eastwood’s latest film, American Sniper, liberal Hollywood figures took to Twitter to excoriate the film and its protagonist, the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

In a since walked-back tweet, liberal documentarian Michael Moore called military snipers “cowards,” while actor Seth Rogen likened Eastwood’s film to a Nazi propaganda film. Rogen also tried to distance himself from his comments.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), official portrait

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), official portrait

The New Republic added fuel; columnist Dennis Jett penned a piece bashing the film, titled, “The Real ‘American Sniper’ Had No Remorse about the Iraqis He Killed,” despite admitting he had not yet seen the film.

Breitbart News reached out to Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT), a former SEAL Team Six commander who served in the military for 23 years, to get his take on the film, the reaction of the Hollywood left, and his own experiences both in battle and at home post-war.

Congressman Zinke served as a deputy and commander of Special Forces in Fallujah in 2004, the same year Chris Kyle was stationed there. He also served as a member of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group for two separate three-year periods, and was awarded two Bronze Stars for combat.

Breitbart News: Have you see the film yet?

Congressman Zinke: I did, I saw it two nights ago. The showing I saw was sold out the day in advance. The theater was packed. No one moved the entire time. Even when the film ended, everyone sat and watched through the credits, until the lights came on.

BN: As a former Navy SEAL yourself, do you think the film was accurate in its depiction of both the actual war and the effects of war on family and home life?

CZ: The fighting scenes were accurate to a point, but to me, the movie wasn’t about accurate tactics or procedures. It’s not a military documentary. It went deeper into the emotions and Kyle’s experience back home, what the causes and effects were, and I think that portion was very accurate.

I was the deputy and acting commander of Special Forces in Iraq, and I served in Fallujah in 2004, the same year Chris was over there, in similar circumstances.

For me, a lot of times when I was home, I wasn’t really home. I was always thinking, “What could I do to better prepare the troops for battle?” or “What could I do to bring everyone home?” or “Am I overlooking something?” There’s enormous responsibility, and I shared with Chris that feeling that it was my job to bring everyone home.

To me, it’s a story about wounds: physical wounds, emotional wounds, and the sacrifices of the troops that put themselves in harm’s way.

BN: What do you think the movie communicated best? Were there any significant differences between the film and the book?

CZ: I think the film was a little different in its emphasis than the book. Obviously, the book is much longer than the 2-hour movie. But I think the film really emphasized the sacrifices of not only Chris, but the sacrifices of his family. It accurately addressed the wounds, both mental and physical, of multiple deployments, the anguish of seeing comrades, good people, perish. And I thought it was also an interesting takeaway that Chris felt that he could have done more to save others. He felt that it was his duty. The movie highlighted that well.

I think it’s also a reminder of what happens. War is not pretty. From the perspective of not only a former SEAL commander but a father of children serving in the military, I can understand sacrifice. War is always the last option, but when we go to war, we go to win.

BN: What do you think of the Hollywood left’s criticism of not just the film, but Chris Kyle’s character?

CZ: Overall, I find it absolutely despicable. I think Clint Eastwood did a great job of articulating Chris’ story. The tweets [by Seth Rogen and Michael Moore] are equally despicable. They have no understanding of what real sacrifice is, they’ve never spent a day in their lives engaged in sacrifice.

Not all of Hollywood believes this, though. There are a number of people in Hollywood who have made movies about American heroes and American exceptionalism. This is just liberal, red-carpet Hollywood. It’s amazing what people will stoop to to gain publicity. And I would take Clint Eastwood into battle over Michael Moore any time.

BN: By all accounts, the film was massively successful. It made over $100 million at the box office in its first four days of release. Why do you think the film was so successful? What made people connect to it?

CZ: I think it was successful because it was an emotional experience. It had this feeling of actually being there at the funeral at the end, reflecting on a person’s life, even though the viewers didn’t know him. I think Eastwood did a magnificent job telling the story of Chris’ life, not just as a SEAL, but as a man.