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'American Sniper' causes rise in hate speech, says civil rights group




Bradley Cooper as Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle in
Bradley Cooper as Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle in "American Sniper."
Keith Bernstein

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The film “American Sniper” continued its astounding performance at the box office over the weekend. The film grossed another $64 million, bringing its total to $200 million in just two weeks of wide release. 

While debate continues over the depiction of the sniper at the heart of the film, Chris Kyle, there is concern in certain circles about the reaction from some of the film’s fans. The Washington D.C.-based American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC, reports a dramatic increase in violent threats against Arab-Americans and Muslims in the U.S. since the film's release.

The threats prompted the ADC to send a letter to the film's star, Bradley Cooper, and its director, Clint Eastwood, requesting that they publicly denounce the hate speech. A spokesman for Warner Brothers would not say whether Cooper or Eastwood would respond, but the studio did release the following statement:

Warner Bros. denounces any violent, anti-Muslim rhetoric, including that which has been attributed to viewers of "American Sniper."  Hate and bigotry have no place in the important dialogue that this picture has generated about the veteran experience.

ADC president Samer Khalaf spoke to The Frame's Oscar Garza about the groups concerns.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS
 

On the comments the ADC has been seeing:

Most of the comments are coming in on social media and via e-mail. And we've seen two waves of these comments coming through. The first were a direct result of the movie itself. The second wave is sort of a backlash towards our campaign to try and get both Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper to come out and denounce the hateful speech.

On the response the group hopes to elicit from Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper:

Simply put, that this type of speech is unacceptable. I mean, to paraphrase some of the messages ... they generally say, "Just saw the movie, it was great, now I want to go kill some ragheads."

On 'American Sniper' showing in the Middle East:

Hollywood is about the dollar. And these types of movies make tremendous amounts of money. Hollywood is always about picking the one villain, the one bad guy, that's what sells.

From the beginning, from the '60s and '70ss, Hollywood's always made money off of portraying the evil Arab. And you want to know something? There are bad Arabs. There are bad Muslims. There are bad Italians, there are bad Germans, there are bad everybody. But unfortunately, what they don't do is show the good Arab or the good Muslim. And that's problematic.

On the ADC's campaign during awards season:

We're going to disagree about the movie. I'm going to disagree with Clint Eastwood, maybe disagree with Bradley Cooper, I may disagree with other Americans about whether this is a good movie, bad movie, or whatever. But I think the one thing we can all agree on is this type of hate — this type of vitriol, these types of threats — where people say, "I'm going to put a bullet in someone's head," just because they happen to be Arab or they happen to follow a specific faith, I think we can all agree that that is wrong. And that is not the American way of life.



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