Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Terror and Tolerance

Via Little Green Footballs, take a look at this remarkable Op-Ed in the Washington Times from a French-writer who really understands what this war is about.
"The morning of Jan. 29, upon hearing about the attack on a bus in Jerusalem, I did not experience the expected emotion. It seemed such a "normal" thing, and I have not enough tears to shed for people I do not know.

The next day, on Jan. 30, I read an article about one of the victims — Avraham Belhassen, 26 years old, a young father — and realized that I could tolerate no more. I can no longer tolerate terrorist folly, Islamist hatred, the passivity of Muslims, the blindness of the West.

Following the attacks in Madrid, this feeling struck me again. The reaction of the Spanish people, cringing in fear before the Islamist claim of responsibility, bothered me even more. I can no longer tolerate such cowardly Munich-like behavior that leads inevitably to dishonor and war.

The reaction of the European media and political class to the elimination of Sheikh Yassin — the master of hate and terrorism, and one who had called for the murder of Jews — pushed me over the edge. I can no longer tolerate descriptions of the monster responsible for hundreds of deaths and thousands of wounded as a "spiritual leader," a poor "paralytic in a wheelchair." I can no longer tolerate murderous, barbaric Islamist hatred.

I can no longer tolerate the electoral victories of Islamists in Algeria, Turkey or France. I can no longer tolerate the indifference of Muslim leaders and the majority of Muslims to the suffering of non-Muslims. I can no longer tolerate their affected statements or their perpetual self-victimization."

Read the whole thing.

Monday, March 29, 2004

VictorHanson.com

Yes, the Man is blogging. And that is the name of his site. And today, he has two of the most remarkable and wonderful posts.

The first is entitled "When should we stop supporting Israel?" in which he lists criteria for determining when, if ever, our support for Israel should stop. Hanson says that our support should stop when:
"Mr. Sharon suspends all elections and plans a decade of unquestioned rule.

Mr. Sharon suspends all investigation about fiscal impropriety as his family members spend millions of Israeli aid money in Paris.

All Israeli television and newspapers are censored by the Likud party.
Israeli hit teams enter the West Bank with the precise intention of targeting and blowing up Arab women and children.

Preteen Israeli children are apprehended with bombs under their shirts on their way to the West Bank to murder Palestinian families.

Israeli crowds rush into the street to dip their hands into the blood of their dead and march en masse chanting mass murder to the Palestinians.

Rabbis give public sermons in which they characterize Palestinians as the children of pigs and monkeys.

Israeli school textbooks state that Arabs engage in blood sacrifice and ritual murders.

Mainstream Israeli politicians, without public rebuke, call for the destruction of Palestinians on the West Bank and the end to Arab society there.

Likud party members routinely lynch and execute their opponents without trial.

Jewish fundamentalists execute with impunity women found guilty of adultery on grounds that they are impugning the “honor” of the family.

Israeli mobs with impunity tear apart Palestinian policemen held in detention.

Israeli television broadcasts—to the tune of patriotic music—the last taped messages of Jewish suicide bombers who have slaughtered dozens of Arabs.

Jewish marchers parade in the streets with their children dressed up as suicide bombers, replete with plastic suicide-bombing vests.

New Yorkers post $25,000 bounties for every Palestinian blown up by Israeli murderers.

Israeli militants murder a Jew by accident and then apologize on grounds that they though he was an Arab—to the silence of Israeli society.

Jews enter Arab villages in Israel to machine gun women and children.

Israeli public figures routinely threaten the United States with terror attacks.

Bin Laden is a folk hero in Tel Aviv.

Jewish assassins murder American diplomats and are given de facto sanctuary by Israeli society.

Israeli citizens celebrate on news that 3,000 Americans have been murdered.

Israeli citizens express support for Saddam Hussein’s supporters in Iraq in their efforts to kill Americans."


I couldn't help but quote the entire list. Still, there is a bit more to that post, including a great conclusion, so read it if you can. (Note that he has not archived his post, which means that I couldn't link to that specific article, just the home page; so if you go to the link and the post is not there, check out his "Private Papers" section on the website.)

And if that were not good enough, his last post noticed the changes in who have become the supporters of liberal society and liberty. Entitled "When I was Young", Hanson remembers the prejudices of a less enlightened age, and where those prejudices can be found today:
"When I was young, my parents in the early 1960s told me to ignore stories about the “Jews.” Of course, out here in rural California, I never met such distant persons, but only heard about them from disgruntled farmers (who, I wager, had never met any either). These pesky “Jews” apparently in some secretive cabal controlled the entire fruit-market of the United States! “They”—not the paradoxes of interstate commerce and the cutthroat nature of American marketing—explained why we got $3 a box for plums while “they” took $20.

Middle men, market manipulators, and secret smart guys who trafficked in inside breaks and shady deals—all these right-wing farmers used to swear pulled the strings of the American fruit market. When I asked my mother if this could possibly all be true, she would sigh, and say, “No, no, no. You see when people fail, or when they are angry, or they become afraid and confused, they always blame those who are different or successful or confident. And often that means Jewish people, most of whom our neighbors have never met.”

And then I grew old, and learned that it wasn't any more reactionary men of the soil who evoked the Jews to explain why they were not listened to, or felt weak, or were frustrated, but rather often very liberal, and self-acclaimed progressives. Instead of Shylock fruit merchants, the new sneaky Jew was the neoconservative—with a funny-sounding name like Wolfowitz or Perle who, due to some sinister genius, had hoodwinked red-blooded Americans into fighting and dying for the Likud party in Israel. Not 9-11, not Saddam Hussein's horrific record of genocide, not some systematic effort to end rogue states and terrorist havens, and not an idealism to bring consensual government to the landscape of the Middle East explained why we went to Iraq. No, it was once again the Jews."


Wow. And that's not the only prejudice that has morphed. Read the whole thing.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Would-be bomber's mother angry with those who sent him.

An interesting quote from the mother of the either 14- or 16-year old (it's not clear which is correct) who was stopped at an Israeli checkpoint yesterday and prevented from committing a suicide bombing. His mother's upset with the people who sent him.

His mother, Tamam, was furious at the militants who sent him.

"He is a child and he should not be used for such things," the mother said.


I haven't seen this quote in most of the reports -- but I did see it in the New York Times and the Boston Herald, and it stands in contrast to the oft-seen alleged happiness of parents whose kids go on to be shahids. I've wondered about that a lot. Can these parents truly hate Jews more than they love their kids?

Interestingly enough, this poor kid's brother was angry also, but for a different reason:

Hosni Abdo, the brother, said he was angry with whoever persuaded his brother to become a suicide bomber.

"The ones who sent him are stupid, because the army will give him two slaps and he will tell them who sent him," he said.


He seems to be angry not because they were sending his brother to kill himself, but because his brother will not stand up to questioning and therefore the leadership put themselves at risk. Hmm.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Dr. Seuss vs. Appeasement

Via Little Green Footballs, an indication that Dr. Seuss was always a smart man. Dr. Seuss apparently drew some cartoons expressing his opinion about the appeasers in the U.S. before WWII. One imagines he would have the same feelings vis a vis their modern compatriots.

Lileks on the protest marches...

Once again, Lileks gets right down to the nub of it:

Imagine if you woke from an operation and discovered that your tumor was gone. You’d think: I suppose that’s a good thing. But. You learned that the hospital might profit from the operation. You learned that the doctor who made the diagnosis had decided to ignore all the other doctors who believed the tumor could be discouraged if everyone protested the tumor in the strongest possible terms, and urged the tumor to relent. How would you feel? You’d be mad. You’d look up at the ceiling of your room and nurse your fury until you came to truly hate that butcher. And when he came by to see how you were doing, you’d have only one logical, sensible thing to say: YOU TOOK IT OUT FOR THE WRONG REASONS. PUT IT BACK!

The other day a variety of people gathered in various cities to say, in essence, put it back. The Movement to Reinstall Saddam commemorated the first anniversary of the Iraq campaign by expressing their outrage at the loss of an ally in the war against America. These people are the fringe of the left; yes. They are the Klan with out the sheets. Worse: they don’t have the inbred moonshine-addled mah-pappy-hated-nigras-an-I-hate-‘em-too dense-as-a-neutron-star stupidity of your average Kluxer. They didn’t come to this level of stupidity naturally. They had to work at it. I’m sure you’ll find in these pictures people who have cool jobs in San Francisco, people who get grants, write code, run the coffee-frother at a funky bookstore, and have no problem marching alongside someone who spells Israel with swastika instead of an S.


He's also got a picture, via this link, of a protester who notes that "I [heart] NY even more without the World Trade Center."

I don't say this very much, but (ahem)...

Attention cowardly protester hiding his face behind the sign: Fuck you.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Quote of the Day .... from the last Century

In an otherwise irritating article from Tom Friedman, the broken clock quotes a friend of his from Spain, who in bemoaning the appeasement doctrine embraced by the new government, remembers Winston Churchill's remark to Lord Chamberlain after Chamberlain returned from signing the Munich pact with Hitler:
"You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war."

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Only Israel and the Jews

Norman Geras has a post today with the above title in which he follows up on a particularly nasty article by Max Hastings in the Guardian from last week in which Heir Max blamed the rise in anti-semitism on Israel. I've heard that ugly tune before so many times now, I tend to ignore it....which is horrible. But shockingly, at least to me, the Guardian printed an article in response today by Stephen Byers, chairman of the Parliamentary Committee Against Anti-Semitism, which Norman quotes at some length. It is very good.
"Acts of anti-semitism are justified by an increasing number of "respectable" commentators, who accuse Jews of being the cause of their own suffering. This logic borders on apology of hatred; worse, it is a veiled threat that if Jews fail to oblige, nobody will stand by them in the hour of need. Instead of sympathising with the victims, anti-semites exploit the Palestinian cause to side with the perpetrators. Around the world, only Israel and the Jews earn such contemptuous treatment.

When it comes to Israel, Jews are held collectively responsible. Their sin is not deicide any more, nor are they are accused of possessing sinister racial traits. In the modern world, the methods of the anti-semite are far more subtle. It is no longer the jack-booted Nazi; instead, it is anti-semitism with a social conscience, often based on human rights and the demand of a homeland for the Palestinian people. Today's Jewish "collective crime" is Israel.

Nothing is more dishonest and prejudiced than shrugging off responsibility for hatred by saying the victims deserved it. Muslims do not merit Islamophobia because of Osama bin Laden, but Jews are somehow blamed for anti-semitism on account of their alleged uncritical support for Israel. This is an attempt to rationalise anti-semitism. It is a warning sent to Jews not by people who care about them, but by bigots seeking to condone their prejudice.
....
The calumny that Jews falsely manipulate the memory of the Holocaust to defend Israel is its most recent malignant manifestation. No Jew has ever said that I do not have the right to criticise Israeli policies because of the suffering of the Jews during the Holocaust. It is not the Jews who abuse the memory of the Holocaust to shield Israel from criticism. It is the anti-semites who defile its memory by demonising Israel through baleful comparisons which are grotesque distortions of the truth and whose aim is Holocaust denial.
.....
The reason for the resurgence of an old hatred is simple. Anti-semites feel emboldened again. Their prejudice, suppressed out of guilt but lingering on in the past 50 years, is finding its way back to the mainstream. This cannot be ignored. Anti-racists everywhere have a responsibility to challenge and expose anti-semitism wherever it occurs.

Read it all.

But while I agree completely with what Byers and Geras write, I can't help but think that Israel and the Jews may not be alone....at least for much longer. America and Americans are experiencing some of the same causal attributions. For isn't the logic de jur that it is we and our cabalistic, imperialistic, imbecile, cowboy, oil-grubbing, jew-influenced president and his policies to blame for everything wrong in the world today, creating thousands of bin Ladens and really being the cause of the death in Madrid? We have brought it upon ourselves, the logic goes...and so when there are attacks, it is our fault. One wonders how far this infestation of appeasiastic logic will progress.

Our Man Hitchens tears this logic apart quite easily today. The attacks by al Qaeda in Morroco and Turkey, countries neutral or detrimental to our efforts in Iraq, can't be explained by the logic used in Madrid. It is amazing how conflicting data is so easily discarded by those who want to make a point.

But this age of reason is really nothing new. I looked back at that famous and wonderful piece of garbage written by editors at LeMonde on September 12, 2001, when they empathetically declared 'we are all Americans.' It is worth taking another look at it, since it foretells much of the common thought today, so tragically evidenced by the polls in Spain the other day. Though the LeMonde article starts with appropriate outrage and recognition of the depravity of this nihilistic movement embraced by the terrorists, it quickly comes to the root cause of it all:
"The reality is more certainly that of a world with no counterbalance, physically destabilized, and thus more dangerous since there is no multipolar balance. And America, in the solitude of its power, in its status as the sole superpower, now in the absence of a Soviet counter-model, has ceased to draw other nations to itself; or more precisely, in certain parts of the globe, it seems to draw nothing but hate. In the regulated world of the Cold War, where the various kinds of terrorism were more or less aided by Moscow, a certain degree of control was still possible, and the dialogue between Moscow and Washington never stopped. In today’s monopolistic world, it is a new barbarism, apparently with no control, which seems to want to set itself up as a counter-power. Perhaps, even in Europe, from the Gulf War to the use of F-16s by the Israeli army against the Palestinians, we have underestimated the intensity of the hate, which, from the outskirts of Jakarta to those of Durban, among the rejoicing crowds in Nablus and Cairo, is focused against the United States.

But the reality is perhaps also that of an America whose own cynicism has caught up with. If Bin Laden, as the American authorities seem to think, really is the one who ordered the Sept. 11 attacks, how can we fail to recall that he was in fact trained by the CIA and that he was an element of a policy, directed against the Soviets, that the Americans considered to be wise? Might it not then have been America itself that created this demon?

Be that as it may, ...."

I love that "be that as it may"....it's just so casual; it is simply a given that we had it coming. Whether it is our policies or our support of Israel or the Cold War compromises we made or whatever, we had it coming. It implies quite clearly that terrorism can be controlled by good policy and good leadership. And who is going to provide that leadership? You guessed it.... and it ain't us. And why is that leadership so important? That they leave for the last paragraph.
"This situation requires our leaders to rise to the occasion. They must act so that the peoples whom these warmongers are seeking to win over and are counting on will not fall in step behind them in their suicidal logic. This we can say with some dread: Modern technology allows them to go even further. [Emphasis added] Madness, even under the pretext of despair, is never a force that can regenerate the world. That is why today we are all Americans."

This reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode where aliens came with a book entitled "How to Serve Man"; everyone thought it was a book on helping humans...it turned out to be a cook book. We are All Americans may mean solidarity. But it is not solidarity from the heart but rather from necessity: people might get killed because of us stupid Americans. We are all Americans because these fascists will deem us so, and we Europeans may get killed because of the destructive power of modern technology. So we'd better provide some stability to the world before it is too late. America must be counterbalanced, lest we really all become Americans.

And they mean it, too.

Monday, March 15, 2004

They Don't Get It

Yesterday, the Spanish screwed us all! They capitulated to terrorism, thus encouraging the terrorists to continue their filthy efforts. By electing those who opposed the US war against these murderers, the Spanish have demonstrated that bombing pays off. We will see more of this, not less, as a result of the cowardice of the Spanish. They now join the French in the halls of ignominy. If we in the US elect Kerry, the lesson will be driven home again: killing works!

Friday, March 12, 2004

Random Thoughts

This is a bit wierd, but guess how many days it has been since 9-11 and the attack yesterday in Spain (up to but not including March 11th itself). Yeah, you guessed it.... 911. Isn't that just lovely.

Every now and then, you see something written that just gets it right, and that is the case, as usual with Mr. Lileks, who makes the right observation on how this stuff is perceived.
"I’m somewhat annoyed by the assertion that this act was “sophisticated,” and hence the work of those brilliant stratgerists of Al Qaeda. My definition of sophistication is somewhat different: it’s an unmanned drone flying over Pakistan, piloted by a guy in Florida, dropping a laser-guided bomb into the passenger cab of a truck full of Taliban. That’s sophistication. Synchronizing watches on detenators is not exactly all that tough. I’ll tell you what’s difficult: a dozen nervous sweating Swedes pulling off 13 simultaneous detonations in Saudi Arabia, where they might stick out. Spain of course is most Spanish; hence the name. But I assume there are enough immigrants living in Madrid, or native-born people of Arab origin, so that a guy walking through a train station with a backpack is about as unusual as a tourist in a loud shirt peering at a map."


And sometimes, I am truly uplifted by observations from unlikely places. Olavo de Carvalho, a Brazilian writer, explained why he came to the conclusion that Bush is right:
"In the last days of the war, though, when the clandestine cemeteries in Iraqi prisons were opened and the corpses started to be counted, I could not avoid noticing - and writing - that the decision taken by George W. Bush had been morally correct and even obligatory: any country that kills 300 thousand political prisoners must be invaded and immediately subdued, even if it does not constitute any danger to neighboring nations or to the supposed "international order".

National sovereignties must be respected, but not beyond the point where they arrogate to themselves the right to genocide.
.....
The intrinsic moral correct[ness] of the American action is so evident and undeniable that every discussion that followed, in the international and Brazilian media, had to systematically eschew this aspect of the question, so that public attention could be focused at the problem of knowing whether Saddam Hussein did or did not have weapons of mass destruction, and therefore whether George W. Bush was right or not by invoking that reason in particular, among many others."

His readers had pressed him for his opinions; my gut tells me they were dissappointed. (Hat-tip, Norm).

And then, you read something and I just get scared. The New Republic did a review of Tim Robbins new play, Embedded. I know Robbins' politics are way out there, so I shouldn't be surprised. But when he writes and directs a play about an evil cabal with characters called Woof and Pearly White, who plot the invasion of a country called Gomorrah and who repeatedly shout "hail Leo Strauss" (a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany), you have to wonder how deep this disease is spreading. Does he think this is funny, or clever or simply the "truth exposed"? Is he a true believer, evil, or just an idiot? TNR's Lawrence Kaplan has some thoughts:
"Embedded, moreover, is not only dumb. It is poisonous, a production-length conspiracy theory guilty of the very sins it attributes to the "cabal" that it claims to expose. "
It's a very good article and worthy of a read. Whatever Robbins is, he is ultimately quite dangerous. Poison is the right word.

Say What?

Who said this today?
"If she did not know it yet, she knows it now: Europe is part of the battlefield of hyper-terrorism." .... "Nothing, evidently, no cause, no context, no supposedly political objective, justifies this kind of [large scale] terrorism."
.....
"If the trail back to Al-Qaida is confirmed, Europeans should rethink the war against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, as did the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001. . . . Will March 11 have in Europe the same effect as September 11 in the US? After having spontaneously expressed their solidarity with the Americans, the Europeans, preoccupied with other forms of terrorism, found that the Americans had become consumed with paranoia. Contrary to the latter in 2001, Europeans today discover not only their own vulnerability, but also that they are confronted with a new phenomenon, mass terrorism. Like the Americans, they may now be forced to admit that a new form of world war has been declared, not against Islam but against totalitarian and violent fundamentalism. That the world's democracies are confronted with the same menace and should act together, using military means and waging at the same time a war for their ideals."


Ready? Le Monde (Hat Tip: Sully, during a lull between his epileptic Gay-Marriage fits). Yep, the same paper that wrote the headline "We are All Americans" but then followed that in the body of the text with why we had it coming.

Do they finally get it? Doubt it, but we'll see.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Well, now he's in real trouble...

Wow. O.J. just can't catch a break. Now, he's being accused of stealing DirectTV service.

I expect that soon we will see a reward being offered for the guy who planted the gizmos in his house.

More Dumping on the Kerry Bandwagon

I think we will have fun with Kerry. Here is Lileks catch on a recent speech by The Man of Nuance to the Arab-American Institute:
Kerry said:
When I was in the region in early 2002, I saw first hand the devastating impact of this ongoing conflict on the daily lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. In Ramallah, for example, Palestinian women, traveling on foot, were forced to stand in long lines at check points with their children tugging at their sleeves and their arms loaded with groceries or other basic needs. And while they were struggling to get through the day, Israelis were also living in fear of another terrorist attack – not sure whether to get on a bus or go to a restaurant.

I’ll give him credit for the order in which he presents these seemingly equal inconveniences. But note how the first example is described with sympathetic human details – children, tugging at sleeves! – but the fear of getting nails shot through your vitals on a bus is described in an abstract, generic fashion.

The speech was made on October 17, two weeks after a suicide bomber in Haifa killed 21 people in an Arab-Jewish owned restaurant; three kids and a baby were among the dead, and the wounded numbered 60.

Here are the faces of the dead.[Lileks links to a site]

The word "Haifa" does not appear in the text of the Senator's remarks."

Read the whole thing.

Why I'm disgusted. Again.

It seems that on December 7, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, the wife of the presumptive Democrat candidate for President, gave out cute little pins at a gathering which "read in the center: “Asses of Evil” with “Bush”, “Cheney”, “Rumsfeld” and “Ashcroft” surrounding it."

Ah. The President of the United States is an evil ass. I see. You know, I never thought it appropriate to call President Clinton "Bubba." It's diminutive and while I think Clinton demeaned the office of the President, I will not do so.

But the wife of the Democrat nominee thinks that's just dandy. "Aren't we funny?"

Jim Lileks has several good points on this and other matters today.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The Best Argument Yet For Gay Marriage

According to the Hitch, it'd drive the mullah's mad.
When I become bored or irritated by the gay marriage battle--and I do, I sometimes do--I like to picture the writhing faces and hoarse yells of the mullahs and the fanatics. Godless hedonistic America, not content with allowing divorce and pornography, has taken from us our holy Taliban and our upright Saddam. It sends Jews and unveiled female soldiers to our lands, and soon unnatural brotherhood will be in the armed forces of the infidels. And now the godless have an election where all they discuss is the weddings of men to men and women to women!

And then I relax, and smile, and ask my [gay] neighbors over, to repay the many drinks and kind gestures that I owe them."


=)

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Thinking Passionately

Perhaps enough has been said of Mel Gibson's The Passion. I have been a bit torn by all the hoopla; I must admit that when those fellow members of my Tribe, whose politics happen to lie left of center, start talking about Jew-hatred (they, of course, would never use such a term), I not only doubt their intuitions, but get that hunch that nothing good will come of it. I think in this case I may have been both wrong and right. Their intuitions may have been right, but the PR bonanza that Mel garnered at our expense has been enormous and I have to wonder if Abe Foxman is getting some of the royalties.

A couple of interesting articles, on both sides of the equation, are floating out there right now. One by Zev Chafets, conforms more to my instincts. His basic point is that the story that Mel is telling is largely faithful to the account in the New Testament and that the movie really was not made for Jews or is really about Jews; and that we shouldn't be telling him or Christians how to interpret their text. Also, he points out that it is implicitly pro-israel. As he says:
"Lately, Yasser Arafat has taken to declaring that the original inhabitants of Israel were Palestinians. But there are no Palestinians in Gibson's Jerusalem, just as there were none in the Gospels. Jesus and his disciples are as Israeli as Ariel Sharon. The Arabs are still 600 miles and 600 years from the Holy Land.
If the Anti-Defamation League were smart, it would stop bugging Mel Gibson for an apology and ask instead for a couple hundred copies of the movie.

Well, I understand his general point and I like his tone, but it is clear Mel had some choices in how he interpreted scripture and those choices went decidely against the Judeans. But his point that we shouldn't be giving interpretative advice is off-point, if only because the interpretation is NOT the real point here. But I will get to that in a second. First, let me point out Hitchens latest. Our Man holds no punches, and in fact gives Mel a flailing consistent with what is witnessed in the Passion. After recounting stories of Mel Gibson as a joke-telling homophobe, he notes that:
"I think that it's a healthy sign for our society that so many Jews have decided to be calm and unoffended by the film, and that so many Christians say they don't feel any worse about Jews after having seen it. We have a social consensus where Jews feel more secure and Christians less insecure. Good. But this does not alter the fact that The Passion is anti-Semitic in intention and its director anti-Semitic by nature. Some people including myself think that Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League are too easily prone to charge the sin of anti-Semitism. But if someone denies the Holocaust one day and makes a film accusing Jews of Christ-killing the next day, I have to say that if he's not anti-Jewish then he's certainly getting there."
.
He then recounts the interview with Peggy Noonan:
"Noonan asked him a question that he must have known was coming, and which he must have prepared for, and she asked him in effect to "make nice" and agree that the Holocaust actually had occurred. His answer was, to all effects and purposes, a cold and flat "no." A lot of people, he agreed, had died in the last war. No doubt many Jews were among the casualties. It's one of the most frigid and shrugging things I have ever read. You would not know from this response that the war was begun by a fascist ruling party that believed in a Jewish world conspiracy, and thus that all of those killed were in part victims of anti-Semitism."

Right on, brother. The Man is getting to THE point. He recognizes, what so few do, the disease that anti-semitism is, and how ALL of civilized democratic society is its victim. And he recognizes that Mel doesn't get that. And then he finishes with this:
"Gibson announced a few weeks ago that he had cut the scene where a Jewish mob yells for the blood of Jesus to descend on the heads of its children (a scene that occurs in only one of the four contradictory Gospels). Gibson lied. The scene is still there, spoken in Aramaic. Only the English subtitle has been removed. Propagandists in other countries will be able to subtitle it any way they like. This is all of a piece with the general moral squalor of his project. Gibson's producer lied when he said that a pope Gibson despises had endorsed the film. He would not show the movie to anyone who might object in advance. He will not debate any of his critics, and he relies on star-stricken pulp interviewers to feed him soft questions. Now, as the dollars begin to flow from this front-loaded fruit-machine of cynical publicity, he is sobbing about the risks and sacrifices he has made for the Lord. A coward, a bully, a bigmouth, and a queer-basher. Yes, we have been here before. The word is fascism, in case you are wondering, and we don't have to sit through that movie again." (emphasis added).

Wow. Maybe he is right. And this gets to THE point which I believe Chafets missed. It isn't about interpreting scripture .... the scripture is pretty clear and Matthew takes a decided view on who is to largely blame for the cruxifiction. Although liberties are taken, the story is the story (as Chafets himself points out). I have no doubt whatsoever that the suffering of Jesus as depicted in this story is an incredibly meaningful and ultimately redemptive account for Christians and as such, they should feel free to embrace it. And Mel should feel free to celebrate it. The issue, however, is that this story has been used for centuries as a justification for the persecution of Jews and that is something that Mel has chosen to ignore. If he had come out and said something to the effect that 'this is a very central story to my faith and it is an ultimately positive story, but one that has been abused by others over time to persecute Jews, and my point is to change that dynamic/distortion', it would have been a completely different result. Instead, he acts surprised by those who would challenge him, defending his movie simply as not anti-semitic. Not even Foxman is saying it is anti-semitic, but it can and has been used for those purposes, and Mel is no where on that issue (I think his point is that it is a pure story, and is what it is, and if people don't get it, that is their problem ... to deny more is to imply that there is something wrong with it in the first place). Either he is ignorant, or not very smart, or so blinded by his story that he can't understand the issue. Or, it is something far more nefarious, and the Hitch is on to it.

I remember I once knew an artist that wore a swastika as an earring. I asked him about it and he defended it rigorously, saying that in India and other places, it is a sign of peace. He happened to be right, as I found it in abundance when I went to India. But my point to him was that while that may be the case, here, in the world we live in, that symbol has become one of the most horrible symbols of hate and death to ever exist, and if wants to redeem it, he will need to take responsibility for the feeling he hurts along the way when he proudly displays it.

The bottom line for the Passion, is that Mel avoided his responsibility to humanity. This powerful story, so central to many Christians, has been abused historically in spite of the very love of human-kind that Gibson professes to uphold. When he mass distributes it to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, he needs to assume responsibility for how that message will be delivered and the impact it has. One would think that, having publicly embraced the positive aspects of this story's message, he would zealously protect it from those who, as in the past, would use it as an instrument of hate. That he hasn't even tried, makes me more than a little nervous.