Thursday, February 26, 2004

An amazing review of "The Passion" by Andrew Sullivan. Here's what he has to say about the film's portrayal of Jews --
PILATE, THE SAINT: Is it anti-Semitic? The question has to be placed in the context of the Gospels and it is hard to reproduce the story without risking such inferences. But in my view, Gibson goes much further than what might be forgivable. The first scene in which Caiphas appears has him relaying to Judas how much money he has agreed to hand over in return for Jesus. The Jew - fussing over money again! There are a few actors in those scenes who look like classic hook-nosed Jews of Nazi imagery, hissing and plotting and fulminating against the Christ. For good measure, Gibson has the Jewish priestly elite beat Jesus up as well, before they hand him over to the Romans; and he has Jesus telling Pilate that he is not responsible - the Jewish elite is. Pilate and his wife are portrayed as saints forced by politics and the Jewish elders to kill a man they know is innocent. Again, this reflects part of the Gospels, but Gibson goes further. He presents Pilate's wife as actually finding Mary, providing towels to wipe up Jesus' blood, arguing for Jesus' release. Yes, the Roman torturers are obviously evil; yes, a few Jews dissent; and, of course, all the disciples are Jewish. I wouldn't say that this movie is motivated by anti-Semitism. It's motivated by psychotic sadism. But Gibson does nothing to mitigate the dangerous anti-Semitic elements of the story and goes some way toward exaggerating and highlighting them. To my mind, that is categorically unforgivable. Anti-Semitism is the original sin of Christianity. Far from expiating it, this movie clearly enjoys taunting those Catholics as well as Jews who are determined to confront that legacy. In that sense alone, it is a deeply immoral work of art.

Emphasis mine. The last two days have really been a blow -- first the President's decision to place himself firmly on the side of bigots by supporting a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and now Mel Gibson's "Passion."

There was a point last year when I actually contemplated voting for Bush for re-election, when I felt that the war in Iraq and the struggle against Islamic terrorism were the most important issues facing this country, and it seemed to me that people on the left and the majority of centrist-liberals viewed the threat of terrorism merely as a law enforcement problem. . . but now I feel completely betrayed by the President. He is not taking our economic problems seriously -- he acts like the over 2 million jobs that have been lost over the last few years are just going to magically return this year in order to re-elect him. It's clear that this administration did very little realistic planning about what to do in Afghanistan and Iraq after invasion. And the administration has refused to deal with David Kay's very courageous statements about the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Kay was willing to admit in public to the press and to congressional committees that he was mistaken -- why can't our President and Vice-President act with equal honesty?

And now the President seems to have decided that the way to re-election is to trample on the rights of gay people, to codify into law that gay people should be second-class citizens. It's scary. When was the last time a serious presidential candidate or incumbent president ran on a platform of open bigotry? Strom Thurmond?

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