Mel Gibson and the Jews
Bill Long 8/2/06
Probably Not On the Yom Kippur Speaking Circuit Now...
When Mel Gibson's enormously popular The Passion of the Christ came out in 2004 (reviews here), Jewish groups fulminated about the anti-Semitism in the film. Indeed, the film had anti-Semitic traits but this was so because the Gospel it chose to quote in large measure, the Gospel of Matthew, has some of the most anti-Jewish language in the New Testament. Face it, when Matthew alone among the Gospels has the Jews wanting Jesus dead, over Pilate's protest, and then has them say, "His blood be on us and on our children" (Matt. 27:25), you have to admit that these lines make the Jews look pretty bad. So, Gibson could "hide" behind the Gospel of Matthew when making Passion because it, Christian scholars protestations to the contrary, has strong anti-Jewish rhetoric.
He can hide no longer. During his arrest for DUI early Friday morning, he not only remonstrated with the arresting officer in profanity-laced language but he brought the Jews into the picture. Arguably there is no reason to bring in the Jews when one is arrested on the Coast Highway for driving 85 mph in an intoxicated state. But here is what the web site, tmz.com, which "broke" the story on Friday, says that Gibson said to the arresting officer.
"Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, "You mother f****r. I'm going to f*** you." The report also says "Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he 'owns Malibu' and will spend all of his money to 'get even' with me."
The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?"
On the Tip of My Tongue...
About a year ago, conservative pundit William Bennett suffered a fall from grace more devastating even than Marv Albert when Bennett gave a "hypothetical" about aborting all black babies--which would reduce the crime rate (I discuss that incident here.). I argued at the time what I will argue here, that when a person has a subject so close to his tongue that when his conscious mind "leaves" him he automatically returns to that topic, then we all know, indeed, what truly guides a person. In other words, I take Mel Gibson's brief tirade against the Jews very seriously here, as something that is, in fact, on his mind a lot of the time.
Well, let's step back for a moment. What is wrong with having a topic on one's mind? We all do. And, we all have learned how to mask what "really" is on our mind for the sake of courtesy and peace in the public square. Let me hasten to add, I think that is a very good thing. If all of us just "let it all hang out" when we are together, regardless of the consequences, we would, as a former colleague of mine used to say, have "mushroom-shaped clouds" all around us. But our mind does "dwell" on things, and the things on which it dwells give us insights into our fears, loves, hatreds or aspirations.
But why we dwell on these things can sometimes be as irrational as the beliefs themselves. For example, I have some idea of what my mind "falls back on" when all my pretensions of objectivity and friendliness fade. I won't share that right here and now, but I will say that I don't fall back on Blacks, Jews or on any ethnic group. Once we know, then, that Mel Gibson really does suspect that the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world (perhaps even Jews, however, would grant that Gibson was speaking with some hyperbole here), what do we do? Accept his apology and let things go on as before? What, really, can you do? Jews are reluctant to "out" a figure as popular as Mel for fear of some kind of reprisal; Christians have no interest or desire to marginalize Mel. So, what to do?
The Speaking Circuit as Penance
I actually believe, contrary to my cute subtitle above, that the best thing for Mel Gibson would be to embark on a multi-state speaking tour at synagogues around America. What would be his topic? Certainly not his drunk-driving arrest. He would speak about his acting, his faith, his making of movies, possibly dozens of things. But, the best way to handle the situation now is to flood Mel with Jewish contacts. Have him learn some Jewish humor, taste some good Jewish food, learn a little Yiddish, hear some Jewish complaints. Maybe that, more than anything else, will make Mel see that an apology isn't enough, and that it really is best that the first thought on our subconscious minds is not one that derides an ethnic group. I wonder if Mel would be "up" to it.
Copyright © 2004-2008 William R. Long