Some Gibson questions deserving of answers
WASHINGTON – First let me say that Jesus is just all right with me. And Mel Gibson, whether playing a lethal weapon, a patriot Scot or a silver-tongued Hamlet, has only fans in my movie-obsessed household.
But Gibson as Jesus' savior through his movie, "The Passion of the Christ," poses a moral dilemma. To paraphrase the prince of Denmark: Is he an anti-Semite or isn't he? That is the question.
It's an especially important question for conservatives, who, apparently grateful for a Hollywood movie that feels familiar, if not precisely family-friendly, have embraced Gibson as one of their own. He is the far right's newly anointed one.
A few nights ago, I attended the conservative Media Research Center's annual Dishonor Awards, an Academy Awards spoof that "honors" the most egregious perpetrators of liberal bias in the media. Featured were several media stars from conservative ranks, as well as "surprise" guests Sam Donaldson and Rush Limbaugh.
Throughout the evening, I was struck by the speakers' repeated invocations of Gibson. They were trying to make the point that Gibson was a victim of liberal media bias. At long last, a native-born, movie-star poster boy of their very own.
What's wrong with that? Nothing except that Gibson steadfastly refuses to convincingly distance himself from Holocaust deniers and minimizers. Several times during the past several months, and most recently in an interview with Peggy Noonan for the March issue of Reader's Digest, Gibson has avoided giving a clear answer.
More to the point – at least as one selects bedfellows for the campaign season – is Gibson's intent. Unfortunately, Gibson doesn't make his own best case when asked to clarify his position on the Holocaust. The question is not unfair given Gibson's family history.
His father is Hutton Gibson, activist, Holocaust denier and author who rejects the Second Vatican Council, when the church revolutionized itself to conform with modernity. In an interview with The New York Times, the senior Gibson said the Holocaust was a manufactured catastrophe arranged by Hitler and "financiers" to export Jews from Germany. Vatican II, he said, was "a Masonic plot backed by the Jews."
And, oh, yes, he says al-Qaida hijackers didn't execute Sept. 11. The airplanes that flew into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were "crashed by remote control."