Univ of Michigan reverses decision to block ‘American Sniper’ … coach weighs in

By Lynn R. Mitchell

On Wednesday, the University of Michigan allowed the protest of 300 students to cancel a showing of “American Sniper, ” the movie about decorated U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle who served four tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was killed two years ago by a disturbed former soldier he was trying to help (see Univ. of Michigan cancels ‘American Sniper’ screening: ‘Made students feel unsafe’):

A scheduled movie screening of “American Sniper” at the University of Michigan was abruptly cancelled Tuesday after nearly 300 students and others complained the film perpetuates “negative and misleading stereotypes” against Muslims.

“The movie American Sniper not only tolerates but promotes anti-Muslim … rhetoric and sympathizes with a mass killer,” according to an online letter circulated among the campus community via Google Docs that garnered the signatures.

The signers were mostly students, but also some staff, as well as the Muslim Students’ Association and the president of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, a Palestinian solidarity group at UMich.

Three hundred students is a tiny percentage of the 43,710 students who attend the university.

By late Wednesday, the University reversed its decision (see TOTAL RECALL: UMich will show ‘American Sniper,’ calls decision to ax it ‘a mistake’):

In the wake of national uproar over the decision by the University of Michigan to cancel a screening of “American Sniper,” campus leaders late Wednesday completely reversed that call, announcing the film will be shown at its originally scheduled time and location.

“It was a mistake to cancel the showing of the movie ‘American Sniper’ on campus as part of a social event for students,” University of Michigan vice president for student life E. Royster Harper stated. “The initial decision to cancel the movie was not consistent with the high value the University of Michigan places on freedom of expression and our respect for the right of students to make their own choices in such matters.”

The tide seemed to turn when University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh weighed in, tweeting that the football team would be watching the movie. Added to that was a petition by conservative students collected 550 signatures calling for the movie to be reinstated and a national backlash of public opinion as word spread. Some suggested the reason for the reversal could go deeper:

Some on campus have speculated the decision to go ahead and show “American Sniper” was an attempt to appease students, faculty, donors and others who expressed dismay over its cancellation.

“If the university prevents a movie like this from being shown, it promotes intolerance and stifles dialogue and debate on the subject and goes directly against the atmosphere UMix purports to provide,” the conservative students’ petition stated. “As adults at a public university, we should have the option to view this movie if we so choose and have the opportunity to engage on the topics it presents to come to our own conclusions on the subjects.”

“American Sniper was not political,” Samuel Fuchs, a student who signed the petition, told The College Fix. “There was no mention of whether Chris Kyle supported the war or opposed it. … I hope that common sense prevails and that people open their eyes to honor an American hero who suffered from PTSD but did everything he could to return to combat for his family, friends and country.”

All of this on the same campus that in February suggested banning the words crazy, insane, gay, and illegal alien, along with others, citing they were insensitive and not part of “inclusive language.”

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