Column: Screening of ‘American Sniper’ will make students uncomfortable

Instead of dismissing someone’s point of view, we need to start listening and understanding the experiences of the marginalized.

A letter to the editor published by The Maneater petitioning to cancel the showing of “American Sniper” sparked conversation and debate on campus last week. A student voiced her opinion on why the film should not be shown through the MSA/GPC Film Committee’s Weekend Movie program. Her argument was that the film glorifies the killing of Iraqis and dehumanizes people in the film who appear to be of a specific religion.

Some people did not agree with her argument and claimed that the film did nothing bad and was not meant to be what she made of it. Some agreed with the student and even started a petition that went around by email, which said it would be presented to the Department of Student Activities to have the screening stopped. The petition said it wanted Arab and Muslim students to feel like their identities were celebrated on campus.

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and not everyone is going to agree on issues. It is important that we take the requests of a student seriously and pay attention to things that we do as a campus that may disturb or offend one another’s culture.

If the student who wrote is a member of a religion that she feels is attacked in a film, we should be ready to hear her side of things and understand why she feels that way. It is easy for people outside of a religion or race to downplay disturbances and not take seriously the effects certain actions have on that outside group.

Being on Twitter when the movie first came out was a personal experience for me and made me not want to see the film. It is more than just this one lone argument that this movie is not productive to society and Muslims all around the world. Many people have said the film was “Islamophobic.”

In general terms, Islamophobia, which came to my attention recently on social media, is prejudice or fear of Islam and Muslims.

I’d like to think that on a college campus we all could watch a film and not let the underlying messages negatively affect us. But too many times people watch a movie or hear a song and think that what they just saw or heard is acceptable to re-enact.

With that being said, I understand and support the student writing the letter to try to stop the screening. Religion, much like race, is a sensitive part of your life that you will protect and defend. If you are not a member of that religion or race, you will never truly understand what is offensive and what is not for the betterment of that group.

I understand the point that MU is an educational institution and nothing should be off-limits because we can learn from anything. But I also think being sensitive to people and their culture is imperative.

If the movie is going to be shown on campus, there needs to be some kind of educational forum or discussion on what Islamophobia is. Many people don’t even know what the term means and how prevalent it is in our society today and this is a problem in itself.

If you’re in an airport and get nervous to see someone who appears to be Muslim on your flight, that is Islamophobia and should be addressed. If a film is going to heighten fears of this group of people, it should be combated with educational lessons on the topic or just not shown.

As someone who belongs to a group that is continuously dominated in America, I am sympathetic to the cries of the oppressed. We can’t ignore problems that groups of our campus deal with on a daily basis, especially at a place that prides itself on diversity and inclusivity.

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