Gibson's 'Passion' is a spark that could well lead the duped into investigating Revisionist research ... and this clown, Rich, knows it.
Believers have met the enemy, it is their own lies.
Have a look. Comments invited.
"This is the classic language of contemporary Holocaust deniers,
from David Irving to Mr. Gibson's own father, Hutton Gibson, a
prominent anti-Semitic author and activist."
-Frank Rich on Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson Forgives Us for His Sins
New York Times | March 7, 2004
Thank God - I think. Mel Gibson has granted me absolution for my sins. As "The Passion of the Christ" approached the $100 million mark, the star appeared on "The Tonight Show," where Jay Leno asked if he would forgive me. "Absolutely," he responded, adding that his dispute with me was "not personal." Then he waxed philosophical: "You try to perform an act of love even for those who persecute you, and I think that's the message of the film."
Thus we see the gospel according to Mel. If you criticize his film and the Jew-baiting by which he promoted it, you are persecuting him - all the way to the bank. If he says that he wants you killed, he wants your intestines "on a stick" and he wants to kill your dog - such was his fatwa against me in September - not only is there nothing personal about it but it's an act of love. And that is indeed the message of his film. "The Passion" is far more in love with putting Jesus' intestines on a stick than with dramatizing his godly teachings, which are relegated to a few brief, cryptic flashbacks. With its laborious build-up to its orgasmic spurtings of blood and other bodily fluids, Mr. Gibson's film is constructed like nothing so much as a porn movie, replete with slo-mo climaxes and pounding music for the money shots. Of all the "Passion" critics, no one has nailed its artistic vision more precisely than Christopher Hitchens, who on "Hardball" called it a homoerotic "exercise in lurid sadomasochism" for those who "like seeing handsome young men stripped and flayed alive over a long period of time."
If "The Passion" is a joy ride for sadomasochists, conveniently cloaked in the plain-brown wrapping of religiosity, does that make it bad for the Jews? Not necessarily. As a director, Mr. Gibson is no Leni Riefenstahl. His movie is just too ponderous to spark a pogrom on its own - in America anyway. The one ugly incident reported on Ash Wednesday, in which the Lovingway United Pentecostal Church posted a marquee reading "Jews Killed the Lord Jesus," occurred in Denver, where the local archbishop, Charles Chaput, had thrown kindling on the fire by promoting the movie for months. Whether "The Passion" will prove quite as benign in Europe and the Arab world is a story yet to be told. It can't be coincidence that France, where Jacques Chirac has of late called for "zero tolerance" of anti-Semitism, was the only country where the film lacked a distributor until this week, when a Tunisian producer declared it was his "duty as a Muslim who believes in Jesus" to remedy that terrible lapse.
But speaking as someone who has never experienced serious bigotry, I must confess that, whatever happens abroad, the fracas over "The Passion" has made me feel less secure as a Jew in America than ever before.
My quarrel is not with most of the millions of Christian believers who are moved to tears by "The Passion." They bring their own deep feelings to the theater with them, and when Mr. Gibson pushes their buttons, however crudely, they generously do his work for him, supplying from their hearts the authentic spirituality that is missing in his jamboree of bloody beefcake. Jews, after all, can overcompensate for mediocre filmmaking in exactly the same way; even the schlockiest movies about the Holocaust (Robin Williams as "Jakob the Liar," anyone?) will move some audiences to tears by simply evoking the story's bare bones in Hollywood kitsch.
What concerns me much more are those with leadership positions in the secular world - including those in the media - who have given Mr. Gibson, "The Passion" and its most incendiary hucksters a free pass for behavior that is unambiguously contrived to vilify Jews. Start with the movie itself. There is no question that it rewrites history by making Caiaphas and the other high priests the prime instigators of Jesus' death while softening Pontius Pilate, an infamous Roman thug, into a reluctant and somewhat conscience-stricken executioner. "The more benign Pilate appears in the movie, the more malignant the Jews are," is how Elaine Pagels describes Mr. Gibson's modus operandi in The New Yorker this week. As if that weren't enough, the Jewish high priests are also depicted as grim sadists with bad noses and teeth - Shylocks and Fagins from 19th-century stock. (The only Jew with a pretty nose in this Judea is Jesus.) Yet in those early screenings that Mr. Gibson famously threw for conservative politicos in Washington last summer and fall, not a person in attendance, from Robert Novak to Peggy Noonan, seems to have recognized these obvious stereotypes, let alone spoken up about them in their profuse encomiums to the film.
Nor do some of these pundits seem to recognize Holocaust denial when it is staring them in the face. In an interview in the current Reader's Digest, Ms. Noonan asks Mr. Gibson: "The Holocaust happened, right?" After saying that some of his best friends "have numbers on their arms," he responds: "Yes, of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps." Yes, mistakes happened, atrocities happened, war happened, some of the victims were Jews. This is the classic language of contemporary Holocaust deniers, from David Irving to Mr. Gibson's own father, Hutton Gibson, a prominent anti-Semitic author and activist. Their rhetorical strategy is to diminish Hitler's extermination of Jews by folding those deaths into the war's overall casualty figures, as if the Holocaust were an idle byproduct of battle instead of a Third Reich master plan for genocide. Rather than challenge Mel Gibson on this, Ms. Noonan merely reinforces his junk history. "So the point is that life is tragic and it is full of fighting and violence, mischief and malice," she replies.
No, that is not the point of the history of the Holocaust. Of course, if a Jew points out such callousness, or reports on how Mr. Gibson exploited a gravely ill Pope as a shill for his movie, he is not practicing journalism or trying to clarify the historical record. He is instead "rabidly anti-Christian," as James Dobson of Focus on the Family is fond of describing Jews who raise questions about Mr. Gibson. The message is clear: Jews who criticize a poor, defenseless multimillionaire movie star and his film are behaving much as Caiaphas and his cronies do in "The Passion" itself. There's a consistency of animus here.
There is also a mighty strange inversion of reality. America is 82 percent Christian, and 60 percent of the population believes the Bible is historical fact. (The Jewish population is 2 percent.) The president of the United States has endorsed Jesus as his favorite philosopher, and Mr. Gibson's movie had almost as large an opening week as "The Lord of the Rings." The star has won his battle. He's hotter than ever in Hollywood, a town whose first commandment is that you never argue with a hit. ("If Hitler did a movie with these numbers, we'd give him his next deal," one Jewish mogul told me in a phone conversation this week.) So by what stretch of the imagination is Mr. Gibson so aggrieved that he can go on "The Tonight Show," purport to be a victim and not be laughed at by Mr. Leno or anyone else? For all his talk of "suffering" for his art, it's hard to see exactly how Mr. Gibson has suffered. His production company is even licensing necklaces ($12.99 or $16.99, take your pick) that feature replicas of the nails used in the film's Crucifixion.
Of late, however, the star has racheted up the volume of his complaints, floating insinuations out of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Speaking of his critics to Diane Sawyer of ABC, Mr. Gibson said: "It's only logical to assume that conspiracies are everywhere, because that's what people do. They conspire. If you can't get the message, get the man." So who is in this dark, fearful conspiracy? The only conspirator mentioned by name in that interview was me. But Ms. Sawyer never identified me as Jewish, thereby sanitizing Mr. Gibson's rant of its truculent meaning. (She did show a picture of me, though, perhaps assuming that my nose might give me away.) Bill O'Reilly was not so circumspect when he returned to this same theme last week, asking an editor from Variety why Mr. Gibson has taken so much heat for his film. After beating around the burning bush for a while, Mr. O'Reilly said: "I'm asking this question respectfully. Is it because that the major media in Hollywood and a lot of the secular press is controlled by Jewish people?" With respect like this, Jews hardly need any disrespect. Besides, the idea that Jews control the media is disproved by Mr. Gibson's own media campaign. Just as he kept most Jewish journalists out of early screenings of "The Passion," so he cherrypicks his interviewers now. No Jewish journalist on network television (and there are some) has been permitted to question him thus far ? a press manipulation by Mr. Gibson's flacks that is worthy of further investigation.
The vilification of Jews by Mr. Gibson, his film and some of his allies, unchallenged by his media enablers, is not happening in a vacuum. We are in the midst of an escalating election-year culture war in which those of "faith" are demonizing so-called "secularists" (for which read any Jews critical of Mr. Gibson and their fellow travelers, liberals). Politicians, we are learning, seem increasingly eager to wrap themselves in "The Passion of the Christ" as a handy signal to indicate they are opposed to all those "secularists" whose conspiracy is undermining all that right-thinking Americans hold near and dear. Predictably enough, both the president and Mrs. Bush have publicly indicated their desire to see Mr. Gibson's film. But when even Connecticut's John Rowland, a scandal-ridden governor facing impeachment, starts to rave about "The Passion" in public ("Unbelievable!" "Breathtaking!"), as he did last weekend, it's clear that we're witnessing the birth of a phenomenon. You come away from this whole sorry story feeling that Jesus died in "The Passion of the Christ" so cynics, whether seeking bucks or votes, could inherit the earth.