The University of Michigan nixed a screening of American Sniper after some 300 students protested the film as “anti-Muslim” and celebratory of a “mass killer.”
A letter of protest was circulated via GoogleDocs to collect signatures from “Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) and Muslim Students on Campus.”
“By showing this movie,” the letter reads, “we feel that our university is tolerating dangerous anti-Muslim and anti-MENA propaganda… Watching this movie is provocative and unsafe to MENA and Muslim students who are too often reminded of how little the media and world values their lives.”
Citing the Chapel Hill shooting as evidence of “increasingly common” hate crimes that “create an unsafe space” and “does not allow for positive dialogue,” the letter calls the American Sniper hero Chris Kyle a “mass killer,” and a “racist who took a disturbing stance on murdering Iraqi civilians.”
University of Michigan’s student newspaper The Michigan Daily reports:
[Lamees] Mekkaoui, who is a member of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality and the Middle Eastern and Arab Network on campus, said she found the choice of film disconcerting because of its depictions of the Iraq War and residents of the Middle Eastern and North African region.
“As a student who identifies as an Arab and Middle Eastern student, I feel that ‘American Sniper’ condones a lot of anti-Middle Eastern and North African propaganda,” Mekkaoui said.
She added that she felt the film was released at a time when negative attitudes toward Middle Eastern and Northern African groups were at a peak.
“It was released at a time when these anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Middle Eastern (and) North African hate crimes were already skyrocketing and this movie only contributed to that,” he [sic] said.
The campus event where the film was to be shown, called “Best of UMix” will feature Build-A-Bear, massages, bingo, karaoke, an Asian food buffet, inflatable laser tag, and now, instead, a showing of 'Paddington' -- a movie chronicling the adventures of a stuffed bear.
The University’s Center for Campus Involvement tweeted earlier today:
@Mashon45 Paddington will be shown instead.— Campus Involvement (@UMInvolvement) April 7, 2015
We're planning to show American Sniper in a separate forum that provides an appropriate space for dialogue & reflection. More info to come.— Campus Involvement (@UMInvolvement) April 8, 2015
The College Fix reports that not all students were pleased with Campus Involvement’s decision:
“It would be nice to see the university … take a stand against outrageous claims of ‘student exclusion,'” University of Michigan sophomore Jason Weaver told The College Fix. “The film American Sniper in no way creates student exclusion any more than Saving Private Ryan. Both show American soldiers at war, the atrocities of war, and the costs of war, yet I’m sure Saving Private Ryan would not illicit the same response. Just because the enemy in American Sniper shares ethnicity with students on campus does not mean they are conflated as the enemy any more than a German student should be conflated with Nazism.”
The school’s Young America’s Foundation chapter is partnering with Breitbart to show the film.
UPDATE: Breitbart News & YAF are working together to host a screening of American Sniper at the Univ. of Michigan http://t.co/NmFJ72j5CD— yaf (@yaf) April 8, 2015
UPDATE: Looks like the university finally caved: