University of Michigan does about-face, will show 'American Sniper'

When it was announced that the University of Michigan would show the film American Sniper as part of its schoolwide festival UMix, the usual suspects pretended outrage and demanded that the university cancel the screening.

That's what the school originally did.  But an outcry, led by the Daily Michigan, the school's student newspaper, resulted in the university reversing its decision.

Fox News:

"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," Harper said. "The movie will be shown at the originally scheduled time and location."

Harper added that the university will also screen the family-friendly film "Paddington" as an alternative. 

"American Sniper", which stars Bradley Cooper as former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, was originally scheduled to be shown as part of a university-sponsored social event called UMix. However, the screening was canceled after a protest letter garnered more than 300 signatures.

"The movie 'American Sniper’ not only tolerates but promotes anti-Muslim and anti-MENA [Muslim, Middle Eastern and North African] rhetoric and sympathizes with a mass killer," the letter read in part. "Chris Kyle was a racist who took a disturbing stance on murdering Iraqi civilians."

"Watching this movie is provocative and unsafe to MENA and Muslim students who are too often reminded of how little the media and world value their lives," the letter continued. 

The cancelation drew a strong reaction, and The Michigan Daily reported that a third-year Law School student named Rachel Jankowski circulated a petition calling on the university's Center for Campus Involvement to restore "American Sniper" to the UMix schedule. The university's football coach, Jim Harbaugh, weighed in on the controversy by tweeting that he would watch the movie with his team.

Not exactly a profile in courage on the part of UM administrators, but welcome nonetheless.  And don't underestimate Harbaugh's influence in this matter.  The football coach at Michigan is a position of power greater than anyone in an academic leadership role.  His support may not have been decisive, but it made it easier for administrators to change their minds.

Just another example of people's fear of offending anyone taking precedence over free speech.

When it was announced that the University of Michigan would show the film American Sniper as part of its schoolwide festival UMix, the usual suspects pretended outrage and demanded that the university cancel the screening.

That's what the school originally did.  But an outcry, led by the Daily Michigan, the school's student newspaper, resulted in the university reversing its decision.

Fox News:

"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," Harper said. "The movie will be shown at the originally scheduled time and location."

Harper added that the university will also screen the family-friendly film "Paddington" as an alternative. 

"American Sniper", which stars Bradley Cooper as former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, was originally scheduled to be shown as part of a university-sponsored social event called UMix. However, the screening was canceled after a protest letter garnered more than 300 signatures.

"The movie 'American Sniper’ not only tolerates but promotes anti-Muslim and anti-MENA [Muslim, Middle Eastern and North African] rhetoric and sympathizes with a mass killer," the letter read in part. "Chris Kyle was a racist who took a disturbing stance on murdering Iraqi civilians."

"Watching this movie is provocative and unsafe to MENA and Muslim students who are too often reminded of how little the media and world value their lives," the letter continued. 

The cancelation drew a strong reaction, and The Michigan Daily reported that a third-year Law School student named Rachel Jankowski circulated a petition calling on the university's Center for Campus Involvement to restore "American Sniper" to the UMix schedule. The university's football coach, Jim Harbaugh, weighed in on the controversy by tweeting that he would watch the movie with his team.

Not exactly a profile in courage on the part of UM administrators, but welcome nonetheless.  And don't underestimate Harbaugh's influence in this matter.  The football coach at Michigan is a position of power greater than anyone in an academic leadership role.  His support may not have been decisive, but it made it easier for administrators to change their minds.

Just another example of people's fear of offending anyone taking precedence over free speech.