Sunday, March 07, 2004


Bruce Anderson, writing in the March 6th edition of "The Spectator", disagrees with the claim that Mel Gibson's film is antisemitic. He says it errs on the side of political correctness. Excerpts:

"One woman has already died of a heart attack while watching the film. No director since Leni Riefenstahl has been so reviled. There have been widespread calls for Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ to be banned, or at least boycotted. He has been accused of glorying in gore, of pandering to sadomasochism, of turning the Gospel story into an anti-Semitic snuff movie. All these criticisms lead to one conclusion: that the critics have not read the Gospels....

Crucifixion gave us the word excruciating. It was a long agony, designed to strike fear into the spectators by breaking the spirit as well as the body. Well before welcome oblivion ended the torture, the sufferer would have lost all human dignity. Mel Gibson did not invent any of that. Indeed, his portrayal could have been even more brutal. Christ would have been stripped naked for the scourging; he would also have been naked on the Cross. Mr Gibson may have judged that nudity would have been going too far. But he cannot be accused of sensationalising the crucifixion. That would be impossible.

Nor should he be accused of anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism is in the Gospels, especially Matthew. ‘Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be upon us and on our children.’ If anything, Mr Gibson could be charged with political correctness. Although his Jewish mob shouts the words in Aramaic, they are not translated in the subtitles. In this film, the Roman soldiers beat and abuse Christ all along the route to Golgotha. That is not in the Gospels. One Roman soldier also sneers ‘Jew’ at Simon of Cyrene: another invention of Mr Gibson’s. It is as if he wishes to retreat from the message of the Gospels and spread the blame more evenly between the Jews and Romans....

History moves on. On any significant scale, Christian anti-Semitism is now at least as unthinkable as France and Germany going to war over Alsace-Lorraine. Jewish spokesmen are right to warn of the renewed danger of anti-Semitism in Europe, but it would be disingenuous of them to suggest that Christians were responsible. The source of contemporary European anti-Semitism is not Matthew, or Mel Gibson. It is Muslim discontent."

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