March 2, 2004
Mel Gibsons movie The Passion of
the Christ has been greeted by some remarkable expressions of
hatred for Christianity all in the name of fighting anti-Semitism,
of course. By now it would take a whole book to deal with them
thoroughly, but the prize for venom goes to columnist William Safire of
the New York Times, who blames the Holocaust on Christ.
After the standard rundown of
the Gospels, medieval Passion plays, and the sadism of
Gibsons film, Safire quotes Christ himself in Matthew 10:34:
I have come to bring not peace, but a sword.
Get it? Christ preached hatred
and violence. If you connect the dots, his teaching ultimately bore fruit in
millennia of anti-Semitism, culminating in Hitlers mass murders
Of course Safire, who seems to
be writing for people who dont know the New Testament too well,
doesnt mention that Christ is speaking metaphorically, as the rest
of the passage immediately makes clear: For I have come to set son
against father, daughter against mother, daughter-in-law against
mother-in-law; and a mans foes will be those of his own
house. That is, Christs truth will divide people even from
their closest relatives. As it often still does.
Safire overlooks an even more
famous metaphor of the sword, though Jesus speaks it in the new film:
He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.
Jews like Safire cant
shake the obsessive belief that they are the victims of hatred, even when
theyre spreading hatred themselves. Among Jewish writers during
the present controversy, only David Klinghoffer, writing in the Los
Angeles Times, has been candid enough to mention that the Talmud
proudly gives the Jews credit for killing Jesus.
The Talmuds account is
historically incredible, but it shows that the notion that some Jews
played their part in killing Christ isnt just a fiction of the Gospels.
The Talmud doesnt even mention the Romans role in the
story, whereas the Apostles Creed doesnt mention the
Jewish role: it merely says that Christ suffered under Pontius
Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. If the early Church was so
eager to blame the Jews, it muffed its big chance.
Moving along to the Washington Post, we find
columnist Richard Cohen charging that Gibsons film is
anti-Semitic, maybe not purposely so but in the way portions of the New
Testament are an assignment of blame that culminated in the
Cohen doesnt quite reach
the heights of slander Safire has set; in fact, its a standard Jewish
anti-Christian calumny a hoary canard, to use
another regular cliché. As history, its naive in the extreme;
if the Gospels were going to culminate in the Holocaust,
they should have done so when Europe was still Christian, not under the
pagan Nazi regime, which left something to be desired in the way of
Christian piety and ethics.
The attempt to link Christianity
to Nazism has become a heavy industry, culminating, if you will, in recent
books smearing Pope Pius XII and the entire Catholic Church from New
Testament times to 1965 when, we are falsely told, the Second
Vatican Council reversed a teaching the Church had never in
fact taught. Little did the bishops of 1965 imagine that their goodwill
gestures toward Jews would soon be used to vilify their predecessors.
Lately weve witnessed a
somewhat new kind of vilification: the calumnious prediction. Jews
not all, but not a few, either have said flatly that
Gibsons movie will, not may, incite
anti-Jewish violence. They were saying this for months, while the film
was still in production.
Well, the movie has been an
astounding success. Millions of Christians have seen it, yet not even one
violent incident has been reported in or near the theaters. Not even one!
The Christians have been behaving like well, like Christians. Is
anyone surprised? Of course not.
Yet, at the urging of some rabid
rabbis, the New York Police Department has assigned its Hate Crimes Unit
to attend the movie and nab law-breaking Christian bigots who are
pushed over the edge by the story of the Crucifixion.
Arrests so far: zero.
If Gibsons aim is what he
says it is, namely, to bring Christs Passion home to millions, he
has scored a huge triumph. If his goal is what his Jewish enemies say it
is, namely, to cause the persecution of Jews, he has fizzled miserably.