The Cultural Impact of the American Sniper Program
Weber State University
Read at the 2011 Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference
Published in Historia: the Alpha Rho Papers, Vol I.
The U.S.military sniper program is a highly valued asset that has existed since the Civil War. Public perception since the implementation of these mysterious warriors has been ambivalent due to the nature of the battle they were engaged in. Sniper history has been well documented but a question that has yet gone unanswered is the impact of this program on the public imagination. In other words, how has the image of the sniper changed over time in American popular culture? Driven by many factors, these perceptions can be traced to ideals of masculine honor, principles of self-defense, moral self-restraint, and American ideas of “just” warfare. The historical attitude toward snipers in both war and culture reveals a deep ambivalence about the use of these soldiers who, unseen and from great distances, kill adversaries who present no immediate personal threat. Once criticized for remaining too distant from bodily harm, snipers in an age of smart bombs and Predator drones are considered today to be held as morally suspect for being too close to the tragedies of war