I’m not in the mood to make a long formal agrument. But I thought I should write something briefly about the bruhaha around Mel Gibson.
I am puzzled over the media fascination with Gibson trashing Jews while stinking drunk. I bet several hundred other intoxicated individuals in North America did exactly the same that night and with greater pseudo-eloquence. Does the ADL really need to issue a press release?
Good grief. I haven’t seen the NAACP issue a press release decrying Steve the Drunk’s racist monologues on Deadwood, which are 20 times more nasty than anything Gibson said while plastered, not to mention E.B. Farnum’s even worst racism and anti-Semitism from the same show. They crank out vitriol every week and get paid for it; historical bigotry is subsidized for your entertainment. Not that I’m complaining – it’s educational.
Now, in the last few days I’ve seen a little more John 8:7 than the initial stone-throwing. That’s good. But I’d still like to see more attention to the DUI than the inane jabbering afterward, though. Drunk driving kills over 16,000 people per year and injures over 300,000 in the U.S. alone. That’s worthy of media scrutiny.
There’s real anti-Semitism in the world. A lot of it. But even if Mel Gibson thinks Jews blew up the Twin Towers on the Day That Will Not Be Mentioned, he’s still not even on the radar of people worth worrying or thinking about. He’s just an easier target than America’s various allies of convenience, which have populations teeming with such inane assessments – Saudi Arabia and Egypt, please stand up.
My impression of Gibson is that he’s had some indoctrination from his dad (whose bizarre beliefs are well documented) that fortunately didn’t take; but it’s still there, a poison simmering just below the surface, waiting for a lack of inhibition – a poison that will take another generation or two to disappear. I hope his kids are ok.
As for the Passion movie… one of the more regrettable aspects of Christianity is that it has a certain amount of latent or at least suggested anti-Semitism that can be read into it – especially in John. This is tempered, at least in the gospels, by the stressing of Jesus and his disciples’ innate Jewishness.
But any movie made about Jesus’ death is going to have to include that a Jewish prophet, false or not, was crucified and no one stopped the Romans from doing it, including the apostles and the Temple – and also that Jesus’ thinly veiled anti-Roman rhetoric was a huge political problem for an occupied Jerusalem. Killing Jesus prevented (or, rather, post-poned) a revolt that would have been ruthlessly crushed, as the one in 66.
But there’s also the point that Jesus, in stating over and over that the events surrounding his death were already determined, essentially absolves anyone from wrongdoing as they had no free will. If it was all meant to happen, and he did die for humanity’s sins, then it’s more than a little hypocritical for a Christian to blame the Jews present for something they had by definition no control over and are forgiven for anyway, as necessary actors in a deity-ordained play. And of course, by extension, it’s even more ridiculous to blame people who just share the same religion, or descendents.
Is it clear that I don’t grok anti-Semitism?