|PHOTO by "CAMPUS REFORM"
The Union Program and Activities Committee at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute postponed a Friday showing of “American Sniper” because of complaints from the college’s Muslim Student Association.
The blockbuster movie – based on the life of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and directed by Clint Eastwood – was replaced by “The Theory of Everything.” Rather than part of the regular Friday night movie schedule, “American Sniper” will be shown at a later date as part of an “educational forum” according to the UPAC Cinema Facebook page.
“RPI has long upheld the values of respect and coexistence, thus it is only our highest concern that this screening would not create any tensions or hatred among students at RPI,” according to the UPAC Cinema’s Facebook post. “It is our hopes that the educational forum, which will include representatives from the portrayal of multiple identities in the movie, would create a better environment of dialogue and understanding on campus.”
UPAC is a student run movie theater sponsored by the Student Union. The Facebook post says the "education forum" will be held later this semester or early next semester. There is no firm date mentioned.
One person, Andy Thrift, a former Fire Support Sergeant in the U.S. Army, responded to the decision to postpone the filming on the UPAC Facebook page.
“I wonder if you would do the same thing if students of German descent or Japanese descent would have requested to cancel Saving Private Ryan or Letters from Iwo Jima?” Swift wrote. “I'm guessing not.”
UPAC said it has received “numerous emails and even a petition suggesting that the cancellation is censorship, however this is not the case.”
“Censorship is an attempt to bring a subject out of focus; our action is an attempt to bring strong issues into greater focus,” according to the UPAC Facebook post. “We want to hold an educational event that invites members from MSA, the Student Veterans of America, and any other organizations that could take interest in this film to lead a discussion open to all RPI students and faculty members.”
Kyle was made famous by the autobiography: “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the most lethal sniper in U.S. Military History.” The movie was released in November, 2014 and has grossed $540 million, the highest grossing war movie to date. It received six nominations at the last Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Kyle is credited with 255 kills in four tours in Iraq, 160 of those are officially confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense.
According to the “Campus Reform” the University of Michigan also tried to pull the movie after the school’s Middle Eastern and North Africa Association and the Muslim Students’ Association “condemned the movie as offensive and asked it not be shown.” The Campus Reform website said the college has since decided to show the film along with a discussion.