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Jon Voight Is Not Smart
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Fifty-Eight
by Brian S. Wise
12 March 2004

Jon Voight has thrust an anti-Semitism onto The Passion of the Christ that doesn’t exist anywhere in the film, period.

The working theory here is that it takes an anti-Semite – even a former junior anti-Semite – to know one, which is why Jon Voight (who on Monday night, in the first of his two consecutive appearances on Scarborough Country, admitted to belonging to a group of Catholic boys that took delight in beating up Jewish boys, because they “killed Jesus”) is so uniquely qualified to speak on Mel Gibson’s state of mind.

Space restrictions prevent me from quoting Voight’s Tuesday appearance at sufficient length, but here’s the upshot: “Yes, I think [The Passion of the Christ] is anti-Semitic …. But let me just enter into this just a little bit to show you how [Mel Gibson] manipulates.  There are these real rapid moments throughout the film of people turning into devils.  And they’re always connected to the Jewish people in some way.  And that reminded me of the way Hitler, in his films on the Jews, created this uproar against the Jews …. Hitler would use rats [coming] into a neighborhood.  Then he would intercut that with Jewish stereotypes.  And he built the Holocaust on that stuff, turning the whole nation against the Jews.  So I’m saying that this film has ingredients.  And then you have to question why he did it and is there an agenda here?”
Immediately following Voight’s videotaped appearance there came Jennifer Giroux, who has founded a website called SeeThePassion.com, and who immediately got off this blast: “I’ll tell you, Joe, this is – it’s almost laughable at this point how desperate [Hollywood liberals; Leftists in general] are to attack this movie …. Jon Voight has some issues.  He has got some issues with the Catholic Church.  I as a Catholic do not appreciate him invoking the Catholic Church to go on national TV and confess that he beat Jews as a boy.  He needs to find a priest.  That’s not what the Catholic Church stands for.  That is not what Mel Gibson stands for.”
There is a remarkable, ongoing scramble among the Left to explain in finer and finer detail why The Passion is intellectually and culturally irrelevant.  This has become such an exercise, one is tempted to bypass any and all of the film’s artistic merits and focus on the “Why?” of the objections.  We allow that any creative license lent to Christ’s last hours will become a point of conjecture, and the theological debate over what is accurate and in what context is an interesting one.  (I direct the reader to The Passion of the Christ: Hollywood or History?, a fine, provocative special seen on the History Channel.)  Thoughtful people will disagree on the meaning and accuracy of this and that; I have said repeatedly in private conversation that I think Pilate gets a pass considering the type of man he actually was.  And these are entirely acceptable conversations for thoughtful people to have.

But in order for anything Voight has suggested about The Passion to be true, he would have had to have seen an entirely different film from the one I saw two weeks ago; in other words, a film that doesn’t exist.  There are no “rapid moments throughout the film of people turning into devils,” and since there are no such movements, Jews aren’t involved in them.  There is a devil character employed with some creative license, who speaks to Jesus in the opening garden scene and who lurks in the background during pivotal moments.  This is intended to represent The Devil, who in no piece of reliable lore ever wore a yarmulke, including in Mel Gibson’s version of events.

Joe Scarborough’s sole objection to Voight’s Tuesday night rant was “Wow.”  Well, Scarborough has to fill an hour a night, and certainly he doesn’t want to go very far out of his way to alienate a celebrity guest (even if it’s a low level celebrity guest).  But that doesn’t make him much of a Witness, which leaves it up to non-Witnesses like myself to say the important things: Jon Voight has thrust an anti-Semitism onto The Passion of the Christ that doesn’t exist anywhere in the film, period. 

It’s regrettable that Angelina’s Dad isn’t intellectually honest enough to sit through the film and see what was there as opposed to what he wanted to be there, or that he has digressed into the “anyone that much my opposite can only be this close to Hitler” school of dissent.  In opposition we see a man’s true capacity, in this case a telling display.

Brian Wise is the lead columnist for Intellectual Conservative.

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