The long, sad decline of American universities continued when the University of Michigan decided to cancel a screening of the blockbuster film American Sniper, based on protests from students that it promoted “anti-Muslim sentiment” and would make Muslim students “uncomfortable.”
Needless to say, these hopeless neurotics will be of little use when the next pair of Tsarnaev brothers come calling. They also won’t be much use for promoting American’s values of free speech and intellectual courage to the world, and I wouldn’t bet on any of them having an accurate recollection of what happened in the Iraq War.
The sad irony is that their generation will have to deal with the fallout (in every sense of the word) from Barack Obama’s train-wreck Middle East policy. Imagine how many “trigger warnings” you’d have to issue before telling these children about what Obama’s pals in Iran were doing in Iraq during the war, or showing them the latest issue of ISIS’ magazine Dabiq.
The President who won so many young votes routinely insists that terrorist insurgents have absolutely no connection whatsoever to Islam. Why would watching a movie about American soldiers fighting them in Iraq make any Muslim uncomfortable? They ought to be cheering the defeat of these fake Muslims, these vile usurpers of a peaceful religion, as loudly as anyone.
Completing this farce was the choice of replacement film: Paddington, a movie about a talking bear based on books written for toddlers. The laughter from Tehran to the Islamic State must have been deafening.
Clearly not relishing its new role as the preeminent fortress of closed minds and shuddering emotional instability, the university changed its mind and decided to show American Sniper after all, but with “safeguards:”
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
“An appropriate space for dialogue & reflection?” Will they have binkies and woobies there to cry into? Maybe some Paddington Bear dolls for students to hug until the realities of the War on Terror have faded from their fragile minds? Or will that be a room where some crackpot student organization hands out anti-American propaganda?
This was all too much for the university’s football 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!
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) April 9, 2015
Harbaugh’s declaration on Twitter picked up more than 17,000 re-Tweets in less than 24 hours.
The habits of mind incubated by these special-snowflake antics at American universities are poisonous. We’ve had quite enough of the culture that says you can make anything you don’t like go away by throwing a fit, thank you; it’s time for American culture to flourish once again in its place.
The culture I’m referring to doesn’t require that you go see American Sniper, or even approve of the film or its subject. It doesn’t “require” anything in the way of “correct” thought. That is the essence of intellectual freedom.
If you don’t like an idea, argue with it. That’s not the same thing as suppressing it. It’s the difference between critiquing American Sniper, and taking steps to prevent others at the university from seeing it. Cowering in abject fear from ideas you can’t handle is unworthy of college students, and of Americans. Suppressing ideas with whiny petitions is just the weak-kneed version of the “bullying” we’re all supposed to despise.
It’s also the latest in an endless string of backhanded insults at middle-class America, since the implied concern of the student protesters is that watching American Sniper will turn white kids into a mob of flag-waving rednecks who emerge from the theater looking for Arab students to harass.
This is all especially absurd given the enormous success of the film during its theatrical run. It’s not an obscure art-house documentary that most of the audience would be watching for the first time at the University of Michigan, and it’s likely that even students who haven’t already seen it have a pretty good idea of what they’re in for, given the tremendous amount of both criticism and support it received in the media.
I’d worry about the future of the country when a generation acclimated to the idea that intellectual conformity should be imposed by using mob action to crush dissenting ideas takes over, but… we’re already getting plenty of that, aren’t we? Universities (and, for that matter, high schools) should be a place where the journey to adulthood is completed. Instead, they’ve become ridiculously expensive laboratories where adolescence is prolonged indefinitely. Every faculty member and administrator complicit in this should be ashamed. The future does not belong to those who turn to Paddington Bear instead of Chris Kyle.