So now Mel Gibson is trashing the war effort. As reported on the Today show, New York Times and everywhere, he has called the death of American troops in Iraq “human sacrafice.”
I have no idea how many folks politicalmavens.com reaches, so this could be a cry in the wilderness, but: folks, this is not a story. There is a certain segment of the conservative Catholic right that is strongly anti-war. Check out the magazine New Oxford Review (linked at the bottom). Like Mel, the NOR has been accused of anti-Semitism. They are more hysterical about neocons than Cindy Sheehan.
So we can sit back and watch the media contort themselves: Michael Moore and George Clooney will open arms to the “new” anti-war Mel, conservatives like Michael Medved, on tv this morning, will scratch their heads and accuse Mel of trying to get in good with the Left after his DUI. And not a single solitary reporter will actually crack a book, open a google, or call a priest to ask a question that could have been asked years and years ago: what kind of a Catholic is Mel Gibson?
I didn’t ask it either. Indeed, it’s time for all the conservatives - like me - to admit a few things. Gibson is an anti-Semite. We were sloppy in reporting about the true nature of his Catholicism. So gleeful that a hero had arrived to stick it to the secular Left, we elevated Gibson to saint and martyr, forgoing simply research in favor of hosannas in the highest. The truth was never that hard to figure out, if only we had asked the right questions.
A couple months before the release of The Passion of the Christ, National Review’s Richard Brookheiser asked a question on their website: Is Mel Gibson a sedevacontist? A sedevacontist is a schismatic branch of Catholicism that believes that Vatican II, the Church council of the early 1960s that modernized Catholicism, was not valid, and that every pope since the council is not valid. Brookheiser noted that, even with all the noise surrounding the Passion, no reporter got an answer - or even asked. We saw the only-Latin church Gibson was building in California. We heard about his family. He gave two hour-long interviews on EWTN, the huge global Catholic television network, and was not one time asked about his form of Catholicism. Is Mel Gibson a sedevacontist? The world may never know. Including me. Both in print and in public I defended Gibson, and I was careless. I thought Frank Rich at the New York Times - who wrote three long pieces about the Passion - and the rest of the liberal media for that matter, had a pathological anti-Christian obsession. That may have been, and may be, true. They also may have been wrong about the Passion. I still don’t think it is an anti-Semitic film. After all, both the heroes and villains are Jewish.
It’s funny: Rich et al simply had to drop their hysterical anti-conservatism and the open sore would have been revealed: Mel Gibson is not a good Catholic. In fact, he’s not even a conservative Catholic, but an ultra-Right Catholic. Thus his anti-Semitism and his anti-war stance would make perfect sense.
I’m not a well known journalist, and my articles, books and essays don’t reach many people. But in my small way I helped erect the golden calf to Mel. I was lazy reporting about him. As a Catholic journalist I read various Catholic publication, from the liberal Commonweal to the neoconservative First Things to the ultra-Right New Oxford Review. Gibson, an ultra-Right Catholic, has some company that would not have been hard to find had a journalist or Catholic with honesty - including me - had simply done some research. The New Oxford Review is virulently anti-neocon, and recent its editor Dale Vree panned a long piece called “Who are the Neocons?” Answer: former Jewish radicals who have infiltrated the White House.
Does Gibson agree with this? And once and for all, is he a sedevaciontist? Don’t expect an answer anytime soon.