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Misguided Passion about “Passion”
by Selwyn Duke
28 January 2004Crucifix

Most people would bristle at the notion that we should censor the truth about historical events simply because some people might react incorrectly to correct information.


He doesn’t realize what is about to befall him, as his summer camp roommate leads him to a secluded place and delivers him into the hands of those who wish him ill. They descend upon him and he is in their clutches . . . for a moment. But desperation fueled by a surge of adrenaline animates him and enables him to break their grasp. He bolts – they pursue – but being fleet of foot he eludes his would be tormentors and finds safe haven with the nearest counselor. That boy was yours truly, and I had been targeted because I was “German.” Of course, I wasn’t really. While my mother did hail from that nation, my father was a Jewish man of different lineage, and the only connection he had to Germany was that he was a prisoner of war there during the waning days of the Nazi regime.

What brought this unpleasant event from my salad days to mind is the pillorying in the media of Mel Gibson on the basis that his new movie “Passion” may evoke anti-Semitism. You see, it occurs to me that if those lads had never been taught about the Holocaust, I never would have become an object of their displeasure. Now, while this is true, the fact of the matter is that most people would bristle at the notion that we should censor the truth about historical events simply because some people might react incorrectly to correct information. And they would be right. However, this is precisely what many critics of Gibson’s movie insist we should do.

These critics imply that we should suppress certain aspects of the story of His crucifixion because they could stoke the fires of anti-Semitism. Well, you know what? They are right – they very well could – among a few individuals. For, while I think that such concerns are exaggerated because the truly hateful don’t need an excuse to hate, there’s one in every bunch. So, I would be disingenuous if I said that not even one person will emerge from a showing of the film harboring a greater animus for Jews. But as my own little personal anecdote illustrates, ANY relation of historical events can have such unintended consequences. Should we refrain from teaching kids about Pearl Harbor or the rape of Nanking because it might evoke anti-Japanese sentiments? How about no longer teaching black Americans about slavery? And, I understand that Ted Kaczynski, better known as the “Unibomber,” had a copy of Al Gore’s book Earth in the Balance in his shack and had highlighted certain passages. Yet, I never hear anyone admonish Gore to be more circumspect in what he says. So if we’re going to proceed down this road we had better pull a Fahrenheit 451 and immolate every last vestige of the past, because everything evokes hatred in someone. Why, it could be said that when the wrong people remember the mistakes of the past they are damned to repeat them.

Some of the critics also say they do not like the blanket statement that “the Jews killed Jesus,” while, ironically, making their own blanket statement that the Romans crucified Him. They also question the historicity of the claim that certain Jewish people played a role in Christ’s death. So, let’s separate the wheat from the chaff.

It’s correct to say that no Jewish person had the power to sign Jesus’ death warrant. It was ONE Roman – Pontius Pilate – who did that. But it is also true that after evaluating the allegations against Christ he said, “I find no fault with this man,” and only at the behest of an angry mob of Jewish people who wanted Christ’s scalp did he relent and allow Jesus to be crucified. And who were these people? They were the minions of the Pharisees, Sadducees and probably the Herodians, Jewish groups with diverging interests that conspired to eliminate Christ. So, in summary, the impetus behind the death of Jesus was the actions of some of His Jewish opponents, and Pilate was the pandering politician who allowed it to happen so he could mollify the masses.

However, it should surprise no one that virtually all the main players in the Gospels were Jewish. This is because these events occurred in Judea – the land of the Jews! Jesus was Jewish. His apostles and virtually all His disciples were Jewish. All the heroes were Jewish. Most all the people who supported Jesus were Jewish. And most all the people who wanted Him done away with were Jewish. It is a Jewish story. For Jews to complain about the portrayal of those who were bent on Christ’s destruction as having been Jewish is like Americans complaining that the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln is portrayed as having been American.

Lastly, some critics imply that the blame for the recent upsurge in anti-Semitic feelings can be laid at the feet of Christianity and that this movie can only exacerbate this trend. However, the truth of the matter is that this increase has nothing to do with Christianity, but rather, is attributable to the virulent form of anti-Semitism that plagues the Muslim world and that has been spreading through it like wildfire. And I hasten to add that the people in question not only hate the group that Jesus emerged from but also the group that now worships Him as Lord and Savior, for they view both Jews and Christians and infidels.

The critics are right about one thing though: we should be mindful of the fact that this movie could evoke hatred. After all, it has certainly had that effect on some of its opponents, who have showered Mel Gibson with hatred. In fact, their wrath has even manifested itself in persecution as they have repeatedly told lies designed to besmirch his reputation, have misrepresented his movie (which, by the way, they have not yet seen), investigated his 84-year-old father and have tried to dig up dirt on the actor. So, I will conclude with a few words of advice for these critics, courtesy of Jesus Himself, “Take the log out of your own eye before you worry about the speck in your brother’s.” For they are correct in saying that there are those whose rhetoric creates animosity, but if they want to reveal the culprits they have to look no further than the nearest mirror.

Selwyn Duke's homepage is The Truth Page
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