Proud of Mel, on the Occasion of Winona’s Denunciation
posted at 8:22 pm on December 17, 2010 by Dafydd ab Hugh
Aaron Worthing at Patterico’s Pontifications recently wrote a post about an interview in GQ with Winona Ryder — who is Jewish; who knew? — in which she offhandedly charged that, “like, fifteen years ago,” she was at a Hollywood party, where she met a drunken Mel Gibson… and that, when she mentioned her religion, he jokingly referred to Jews as “oven dodgers.” (Ryder also claims that Gibson “made a really horrible gay joke” to her gay friend.)
We couple this with the iconic antisemitic rant another drunken Mel Gibson made — rather, the same Gibson during a different debauchery — while being arrested for DUI, and the pattern is fairly clear: In his heart, Gibson is a raging antisemite.
And as a USDA-certified non-religious Jew, that makes me very, very proud of him.
We pause briefly to allow readers to finish caroming around the room, flapping their arms like emperor penguins trying to take to the air.
Settled again? Good; I can explain what in blazes I mean very concisely…
We all have demons; no one but a saint is so free of evil that he hasn’t even a single moral blindness, a single skeleton in his skull. On those issues, the beast screams to be released to rend and eviscerate someone who, while he may be irritating or offensive or even thuggish, doesn’t actually deserve the level of irrational vitriol or violence that we feel, in those moments, like dishing out.
How many of you — be honest — had flashes of rage following the 9/11attacks that induced fantasies of flattening the entire Arab world with nuclear Armageddon?
But wait, think a second time: Should we really kill hundreds of millions of people, the vast, vast majority innocent of that act of war, out of sick revenge at what, at most, half a hundred people plotted and maybe fifteen or twenty thousand actively applauded? All but the mad among us quickly suppressed that first idea and swallowed our rage, choosing instead to do as George W. Bush said: Find the people who knocked those buildings down and kill them personally, or capture them and hold them indefinitely, crushing every scrap of usable, actionable intel out of them. (Or at the very least, if we couldn’t keep silent about our general fury at Arabs and Moslems in general, we confined those ravings of universal slaughter to close friends who wouldn’t broadcast our intemperance to the world at large.)
And who here has never, ever, ever been so enraged by some nitwit driver that he hasn’t screamed out loud, in his car, that he was going to ram the son of a bachelor and drive his car into a telephone poll? Sure, we yell it… but if we retain our sanity, we don’t actually do it.
Civilization is largely a voluntary act of mass repression; and that’s a good thing. An awful lot of thoughts and desires we experience throughout a given day should be repressed, jammed down so deep we barely feel them except for a burr in the brain — notwithstanding that stupid sixties philosophy of “let it all hang out” and “never repress what you feel.”
Sometimes it takes a heroic effort to suppress saying or doing something that Seems Like a Good Idea at the Time™, but upon sober reflection would be a horrific and life-destroying indulgence. But that’s one of the prices we pay for living in a society, surrounded by other people.
I’d say that the definition of a civilized human being is the ability to look past anger to a later time, when we will have calmed down, and imagine ourselves saying, “My God, what have I done? My life is ended!”… then to return to present time and not do it in the first place.
Those with the loudest demons have the greatest struggle; and quite evidently, Mel Gibson’s demons are very loud and vile indeed. But the point is, when not in the madness of strong drink, he does manage to suppress them. He suppresses them so well that until that videotaped, besotted rant during his arrest, I daresay the vast majority of us had no idea he struggled with such internal Hell.
Some Gibson critics have tried to claim that his movie the Passion of the Christ was antisemitic; I believe they do so precisely because they realize that to condemn Gibson, they must show that he indulges his demon even when stone cold sober… as when he is writing and directing a movie.
Yet I watched that movie as a Jew (having been “primed” to believe it would be antisemitic); and while I was unmoved by the story, I certainly felt no stirrings of anxiety over religious persecution, as I did when watching Leni Riefenstahl’s the Triumph of the Will, glorifying Adolf Hitler’s 1934 Nuremberg rally.
In fact, in the twenty-one Gibson movies I’ve seen, including Passion and Apocalypto, both of which he only wrote and directed, I’ve never seen anything to indicate he was a deliberate Jew hater or “homophobe.” Knowing as I now do how he must struggle against the irrational illnesses of racism and xenophobia, I am astonished at what a great job he does.
Gibon’s conscious, intelligent mind realizes one of two things, the first more creditable than the second but both being acceptable marks of civilization:
- Either that his “feelings” are simply wrong, as feelings frequently are; and there is nothing inherently inferior about Jews, gays, or any other human, even if he believes that some of the things they do — deny Christ, engage in the “abomination” of homosexual acts — are sins. He may honestly believe he must hate the sin but love the sinner.
- Or at the very least, he must believe that he cannot live in this American society and express such loathing that is rejected by nearly everybody else here (Europe and the Orient are friendlier to Jew hatred); and Gibson must believe that the benefits of living in the United States outweigh any personal satisfaction he might derive from venting venom at Jews and gays. And that, as I said, is practically the definition of a civilized man.
I don’t know which, but either way, Mel Gibson “gets it” — when he’s sober. And he doesn’t seem to be a habitual drunkard; such incidents are few enough and far enough apart that they still shock us.
Of course Gibson still has a drinking problem; anytime someone allows himself to get so drunk that he cannot control his inner demons, he is a menace to himself, and what is infinitely worse, to the rest of society. But I feel as proud (as a fellow civilized human being) of his personal achievement as I would of a kleptomaniac who controls himself and does not steal, or a drug addict who steers clear of the needle, or a believing Catholic who is gay, yet who lives a celebate life so as not to commit what he believes to be sin. It must take a mental effort of mind-over-glands more monumental than most of us can imagine — a true “triumph of the will” — for Gibson to bottle his imp of rage and hate and cast it into the sea, even if it does occasionally come bobbing back ashore when he’s in his cups.
By contrast, I have heard many and many a man or woman of the Left openly, brazenly, almost tauntingly fling antisemitic, anti-gay, and racist ideas and epithets into the maelstrom of his political and ideological madness without having touched a drop of “the creature” all day. Which, by the way, is practically a textbook definition of barbaric savagery.
Even as a Jew, who would you rather luncheon with: Mel Gibson? Or Special Assistant to President Barack H. Obama Samantha Power, head of the Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights?
The defense rests.
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…