Michigan State apologizes for Hitler image shown before football game, suspends employee


Michigan State University's athletic director issued an apology after an image of Adolf Hitler was shown on the Spartan Stadium video boards last Saturday. He promised greater oversight of future content featured at athletic events. 

The video boards at the Spartan Stadium in East Lansing displayed the image of Hitler before the Saturday football game between MSU and No. 2 Michigan. An unnamed employee involved in the incident has been suspended, and MSU is currently investigating to determine if further action is appropriate.

In response to a Wednesday inquiry from The Christian Post, a spokesperson for MSU directed the outlet to a statement from Alan Haller, vice president and director of athletics at MSU. Haller apologized for what he described as an "offensive image" and for any pain that it has caused. 

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"The image was harmful to our communities, especially our Jewish community, which is currently experiencing a rise in antisemitism, including acts of violence," he stated. 

Haller said the athletics department had not viewed the content displayed on the video boards in its entirety before it was shown during the football game. The employee involved in the incident was identified and suspended with pay, according to the statement.

"The video was not part of a sponsorship and had no affiliation with any of our corporate partners or our community," Haller said.

"Looking forward, Michigan State Athletics will ensure greater oversight and processes surrounding any material displayed in relation to one of our athletics events," the athletics director added. "We are committed to ensuring this never happens again and to better demonstrating the inclusive community that we are." 

The director also promised to reach out to impacted student-led organizations and local groups within the Jewish community to apologize and offer them an opportunity to be heard. 

"Antisemitism must be denounced," he said, stating that the Hitler image displayed Saturday is not representative of the campus and its culture. "Nevertheless, we must own our failures and accept responsibility."

"I understand our response might be met with skepticism," he continued. "That skepticism is warranted, and we will do all that is necessary to earn back your trust." 

The video displayed during the football game came from the YouTube channel The Quiz Channel and featured Hitler's image as one of the questions. As part of the quiz, the video showed a picture of the fuhrer and asked what country he was born in before providing the answer.

"To be clear, I was unaware Michigan State University is using my content for stadium entertainment and this was unsolicited and unauthorised use," the producer of The Quiz Channel wrote Sunday in response to a comment. "A random history trivia question in an inappropriate setting."

Following Hamas' attack against civilians in southern Israel that resulted in more than 1,400 deaths, there have been several pro-Palestinian demonstrations that have occurred on college campuses across the country.

Immediately after the attack, the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups and over 30 student groups released a letter stating that they hold Israel responsible for the Hamas attack, saying the "events did not occur in a vacuum" and stating that the "apartheid regime is the only one to blame."

Harvard President Claudine Gay responded by issuing a statement describing Hamas' actions as "abhorrent," clarifying that the opinions expressed by students and student groups do not reflect the views of Harvard University or its leadership.  

Earlier this year, the Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish advocacy group, released its annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. According to the report, the ADL documented 3,697 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2022, a 36% increase from last year. 

The report found that cases of anti-Semitic harassment increased by 29% (2,298), vandalism increased by 51% (1,288) and anti-Semitic assaults increased by 26% (111). In 107 of the 111 assault cases documented, attacks were conducted without the use of a deadly weapon, although at least one assault resulted in a fatality. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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