University of Michigan Football Coach Helps Resolve “American Sniper” Controversy

University of Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh weighed in on the controversy surrounding American Sniper

University of Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh weighed in on the controversy surrounding American Sniper

The ongoing conflict between students’ freedom of expression and their perceived right not to be offended made its presence felt at the University of Michigan this week, as a planned screening of the hit film American Sniper generated a storm of controversy. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film stars Bradley Cooper as former Chief Petty Officer and Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who became the most lethal sniper in American military history after 160 confirmed kills during four tours in Iraq.

The planned showing of the film quickly attracted controversy through a student backlash from the U of M’s Muslim Student Association, including a letter with 300 signatories and claims that the film “tolerates and promotes anti-Muslim rhetoric and sympathizes with a mass killer” and that “Chris Kyle was a racist who took a disturbing stance on murdering Iraqi civilians”.

As a result of this backlash, the University canceled the screening of American Sniper and instead planned to show Paddington, an animated comedy about a stuffed bear. However, the cancelation generated another backlash from students who supported the showing of the Eastwood film, and even drew the following Twitter commentary from Michigan football’s head coach Jim Harbaugh: “ Michigan Football will watch “American Sniper”! Proud of Chris Kyle & Proud to be an American & if that offends anybody then so be it!”

In the face of this renewed criticism, the Michigan administration backtracked and decided to show the film, stating: “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.” In this current climate of hypersensitive political correctness, it is extremely heartening to see that some prestigious academic institutions like Michigan remain willing to fulfill their true missions and prioritize a free exchange of ideas rather than limit such discourse in the name of emotional sensitivity. Go Wolverines.