Mel Gibson's Meltdown
He is sick to his empty core with Jew-hatred.
By Christopher Hitchens

Posted Monday, July 31, 2006, at 2:09 PM ET 
Mel GibsonI was just in the middle of writing a long and tedious 
essay, about how to tell a real anti-Semite from a person who too-
loudly rejects the charge of anti-Semitism, when a near-perfect real-
life example came to hand. That bad actor and worse director Mel 
Gibson, pulled over for the alleged offense of speeding and the 
further alleged offense of speeding under the influence, decided 
that he needed to demand of the arresting officer whether he was or 
was not Jewish and that he furthermore needed to impart the 
information that all the world's wars are begun by those of Semitic 

Call me thin-skinned if you must, but I think that this qualifies. I 
also think that the difference between the blood-alcohol levels—and 
indeed the speed limits—that occasioned the booking are insufficient 
to explain the expletives (as Gibson has since claimed in a 
typically self-pitying and verbose statement put out by his 
publicist). One does not abruptly decide, between the first and 
second vodka, or the ticks of the indicator of velocity, that the 
Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion are valid after all.

There's a lot to dislike about Gibson. He is given to furious 
tirades against homosexuals of the sort that make one wonder if he 
has some kind of subliminal or "unaddressed" problem. His vulgar and 
nasty movies, which also feature this prejudice, are additionally 
replete with the cheapest caricatures of the English. Braveheart and 
The Patriot are two of the most laughable historical films ever 
made. (Englishmen don't form picket lines outside movie theaters 
when "stereotyped," but still.) He has told interviewers that his 
wife, the mother of his children, is going to hell because she 
subscribes to the wrong Christian sect (a view that he justifies 
as "a pronouncement from the chair"). And it has been obvious for 
some time to the most meager intelligence that he is sick to his 
empty core with Jew-hatred. 



This is not just proved by his twistedly homoerotic spank-movie The 
Passion of the Christ, even though that ghastly production did focus 
obsessively on the one passage in the one of the four Gospels that 
tries to convict the Jewish people en masse of the hysterical charge 
of Christ-killing or "deicide." It is validated by his fealty to his 
earthly father, a crackpot who belongs to a Catholic splinter group 
of which our Mel is a member. This group more or less lives off the 
stench of medieval anti-Semitism. Allow me (as one who has Mel's 
father's books to hand) to give you an example. In an attempt a few 
years ago to heal the breach between the Vatican and the Jews, then-
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger did his best to make nice. Jews did not 
accept Jesus as savior and redeemer, said the man who is now the 
pope, but they did originate monotheism. Therefore, Judaism could 
perhaps be regarded in some ways as an "elder brother" of 
Christianity. The response of Gibson senior was to say that Abel 
also had an elder brother. … You know what? I think that this 
qualifies as anti-Semitism, too.

I do not believe for an instant that the sins of the fathers should 
descend to later generations. But when asked about his old man's 
many effusions on this subject, from the cheery view that the Jewish 
population of Europe actually increased in Hitler's day to the no 
less upbeat opinion that persons unknown brought down the World 
Trade Center, the younger Gibson stonewalled consistently by saying 
that "my father has never told me a lie." At the time he said this, 
I was impressed despite myself. He was being invited to disown a 
raging Jew-baiter at the same time that he was trying to cash in 
with a Hollywood epic. And he wouldn't do it! All credit for true 
and staunch conviction. (But don't run away with the sentimental 
idea that he had to stick by his father. Scott McClellan had been on 
White House spokesman detail for only a few days when his male 
parent produced a book arguing that LBJ had murdered JFK. Even in 
this tussle over two dead Democrats, McClellan had enough dignity to 
say that he loved his father, even though the old boy had some wacky 
ideas. Try and get Gibson to say that.)

At the time when The Passion of the Christ was being released, many 
nervous evangelical Christians tried to get the more horrifying bits 
of anti-Semitic incitement toned down. (The crazy scene where the 
rabbis demand the blood of Jesus on their own heads was taken out of 
subtitles, for example, but left as it was in Aramaic.) Many 
conservative Jews, from David Horowitz to Rabbi Daniel Lapin, stuck 
up for Gibson as a man who defended family values against secular 
nihilism. And the Muslim world allowed the movie to be screened 
widely, though from Ben-Hur to King of Kings it had prohibited the 
physical representation of any "prophet" mentioned, as Jesus is, in 
the Quran. (Don't ask yourself why this was, unless you want to feel 
stupid.) It was even proudly announced that Gibson's next big 
project would be about the Holocaust.

Whether Gibson tries this last catch-penny profanity or not, it is 
time to lower the boom on him. Those who endorsed his previous 
obscene blockbuster are obliged to say something now or be ignored 
ever after. But this should not be yet another spectacle of 
the "offensive" and the "inappropriate," swiftly succeeded by rehab 
and repentance and perhaps—who knows?—a joint press conference with 
Elie Wiesel. Gibson did not "misspeak"; indeed according to many 
trustworthy reports, he nearly copped the customary celebrity "get 
out of jail free" card and had his remarks stricken from the record. 
(When will the sheriffs decide to release the evidence?) No, he 
spoke his "mind," and in case anyone wants to burble about political 
correctness, it should be added that he spoke this way because of 
his religion, not just his warped personality. Let him keep the 
fortune he made from a pogrom movie, and let him by all means 
continue to sponsor his Latin Mass sectarian church in Malibu, where 
sinners are thick on the ground. But there was another touch of in 
vino veritas when he tearfully told the cops that "my life is f---
ed," and this inadvertent truth ought to be remembered in all 
charity as the last words we ever want to hear from him.

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