Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh met with Muslim students Wednesday who were offended over his defense of the film “American Sniper.”
Campus officials cancelled a scheduled showing of American Sniper there in April after protests from Muslims, who claimed the film promoted hatred and false stereotypes of Muslims. In the short period before the school backtracked and rescheduled the showing, Harbaugh, a Michigan alumnus who became the school’s coach just a few months ago, decided to hold his own screening of the film for the football team. When announcing the decision on Twitter, Harbaugh was dismissive towards those complaining about the movie:
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 decision, however, appears to have further upset campus Muslims, and they successfully scheduled a meeting with the coach to air their grievances.
The meeting was held behind closed doors, so it can only be speculated what may have happened between the students and the famously fiery coach. Initially, according to an email obtained by The College Fix, Harbaugh was expected to offer a private apology for his actions.
“Vice President Royster has met this request and scheduled a meeting in which Coach Jim Harbaugh will be issuing a private apology,” the email to several campus Muslim and Middle-Eastern student groups said.
However, a few hours later, another email went out retracting this claim, and instead saying that Harbaugh was simply having a private meeting with concerned students.
Afterwards, Robby Soave of Reason, who was blocked from attending the meeting, sought comment from attendees but had no luck, other than a bland quip from Harbaugh that the meeting “went great.” Barring a change of heart from somebody in the room, what was said will remain a secret.
While Soave sat outside the classroom in which the meeting was held, a Michigan official approached and urged him not to take any more pictures (as he had a few of Harbaugh) because he was making the students in attendance feel “unsafe.”
Whether the meeting will help smooth over relations between Harbaugh and campus Muslims is unclear. One Muslim at the school told The College Fix that “Muslim students have almost categorically lost respect for Harbaugh after that tweet.” The student also said he believed Harbaugh was being compelled to attend the meeting by school administrators, who wanted to keep the football program from creating controversy.
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