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Phyllis Chesler

Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the author of 14 books and an emerita professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies. She once lived in Kabul, Afghanistan. She may be reached through her website www.phyllis-chesler.com.
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I Am A Navy SEAL

Friday, February 24th, 2012 - by Phyllis Chesler

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I parachuted out of a plane onto the back of a submarine. Then we silently submerged into the sea. I waded under water loaded down with gear in order to “extract” a “package”:  a female CIA agent captured and undergoing torture. I trained in California and Virginia and put my skills to use in South America, the Philippines, Somalia, Chechnya, and the border between Mexico and the United States.

Was I dreaming or was I watching a new kind of action movie that made me feel as if I was actually ”embedded” with Navy SEALs, those valiant and elite commando warriors? It was no dream. I sat fully awake, riveted to my seat for 101 thrilling minutes watching a preview of the new movie Act of Valor.

Yes, Navy SEAL heroes ”got” Osama bin Laden in his posh Pakistani abode. These warriors undertake the most dangerous missions to defend America from enemy combatants and non-state terrorists. And yet, even I, a non-athletic civilian of a certain age, felt as if I were almost ”in their boots and on the ground.”

And so will you.

Psychologically, the movie is in 3-D. It may even constitute a new genre — the scripted reality show in which the real warriors play themselves but in a fictionalized version of what they do. The (unnamed or falsely named ) eight SEALs are the “actors” but they are not exactly acting. With the Navy’s full approval, we see how the SEALs operate, relate and talk to each other — and to their families; we watch them interrogate a suspected terrorist-related smuggler. The  SEALs advised the producer-directors, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh, and the scriptwriter, Kurt Johnstad, as to how their team would actually strategize a given mission — and they then proceeded to do so on camera. 

Remember Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 anti-Vietnam war film Apocalypse Now with the helicopter gunships moving into Vietnam accompanied by Wagner’s massive music for the Ride of The Valkyries, those fabulously fierce female Amazon divinity-warriors on  flying horses? Da-da-da-DA-dum, da-da-da-DA-dum.   

That extraordinary scene now pales in comparison to many of the sequences in Act of Valor – definitely not an anti-war or anti-American film. On the contrary, it emphasizes America’s need for special combat forces to defeat the global Islamist terrorist threats we face both here and abroad. It is a film which valorizes without glamorizing our commandos .

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