Mel's Maligners - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Mel’s Maligners

Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is provoking religious slights — on Christians.

Diane Sawyer’s Primetime interview with Gibson dripped with an insulting condescension toward Christianity, a condescension liberals would regard as bigoted were it aimed at Judaism or Islam.

Sawyer, brows furrowed, looking almost in a state of physical pain, felt free to question Gibson’s faith with a surely-you-can’t-believe-that? air. As Gibson spoke about such things as his belief in the Devil and the Holy Spirit, Sawyer’s face registered a wincing incredulity. She looked like a horrified anthropologist who had just stumbled upon some grotesque religious sect.

After Gibson said of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion — “He was beaten for our iniquities. He was wounded for our transgressions. And by his wounds we are healed. That’s the point of the film. It’s not about pointing the fingers, it’s not about playing the blame game. It’s about faith, hope, love and forgiveness. It’s the reality for me. I believe that. I have to ” — Sawyer asked, “Have to?” In other words: Come on, Mr. Gibson, you don’t have to take your faith quite so seriously.

Talk show hosts usually coo over the convictions of artists and believers. Not so with Gibson. His convictions are so in need of correction that Sawyer, suddenly an art monitor, demanded to know why he didn’t make a different movie. “You could have made a life of Jesus,” a nice and fuzzy movie without the crucifixion, Sawyer told Gibson.(The fatuousness of Sawyer reached its bottom when she referred to the movie as an “anti-date movie.”) And why didn’t he add a postscript denouncing anti-Semitism to his movie? Sawyer wanted to know.

It would be hard to imagine Sawyer behaving like such a busybody with any other director. She suggested to Gibson that he was “playing with fire.” Do other directors get reminders from her on their responsibility to make movies that produce only comity and unanimity?

The left loves “art that challenges,” and treats turmoil in the wake of art as a mark of its value and truth, but not if it is based on the Bible. Then it is viewed as a dangerous obscenity, a matter of “playing with fire.”

Gibson correctly pointed out to Sawyer that those who object to his movie are really objecting to the New Testament. “Read the Gospels,” he told her. But Sawyer doesn’t want to read the Gospels unless they are rewritten according to liberal sensitivities. The Bible, she reminded Gibson, has been deconstructed. (Though it is never explained why the deconstructionists deconstruct the Sanhedrin’s role in Christ’s crucifixion while not extending that same deconstructionist generosity to Pontius Pilate.) Why take it all so literally? she in effect asked him. She really caught him out when she established that the blood-be-on-our-children line from the Gospels was still in the film in “Aramaic.” Apparently unless the Bible is bowdlerized, it is not safe material for movies.

When not asking belittling questions — “What does the evil side want?” “Do you believe God wrote this film?” “You have the nonstop ticket [to heaven]?” — Sawyer was hiding behind phrases like “some critics say,” “historians say.”

Sawyer found a “former priest” to criticize the movie. He was disappointed that the movie didn’t anticipate the moviegoing needs of Martians. “Let’s say I’m a Martian, I’m just watching this film. All the time I keep saying to myself, what’s anyone got against this guy?” the former priest said. Gibson’s response to this criticism was to say basically that he didn’t make the movie for Martians. The “former priest” didn’t care for the focus on “brutality.” (Christianity without the crucifixion appeals to liberal Catholic priests, current and ex. Hence they have been trying to take crucifixes out of Catholic classrooms and churches for years.)

Sawyer also asked Gibson about a 19th century nun whose work on the crucifixion — a “some say lurid” account of the crucifixion — supposedly informed his film. “Lurid,” “playing with fire” — this is Hollywood’s stock in trade. For such a seasoned Hollywoodized journalist, Sawyer is easily shocked.

“I think it is one of the things that worries and concerns some of the critics” — meaning her — “that this is presented as truth,” she said to Gibson, casually implying that the Gospels are made up. Sawyer was so determined to make sure that Gibson didn’t disparage anyone else’s faith she felt entitled to disparage his.

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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