Rich accused Gibson of Jew-baiting: "His game from the start has been to foment the old-as-Hollywood canard that the 'entertainment elite' (which just happens to be Jewish) is gunning for his Christian movie. But based on what? According to databank searches, not a single person, Jewish or otherwise, had criticized 'The Passion' when Mr. Gibson went on Bill O'Reilly's show on Jan. 14 to defend himself against 'any Jewish people' who might attack the film."
Rich left the impression that Gibson came on Fox solely to address the Jewish question, even though the entire issue was raised by O'Reilly. Rich repeated his charge: "Nor had anyone yet publicly criticized 'The Passion' or Mr. Gibson by March 7, when The Wall Street Journal ran the interview in which the star again defended himself against Jewish critics who didn't yet exist."
Again Rich was misleading his readers. The Journal piece, written by Raymond Arroyo, news director of the Catholic cable channel EWTN, suggested future criticism, not past: "Focusing on the trial and death of Christ will inevitably cause some controversy." Gibson said: "Looking at Christ's crucifixion, I look first at my own culpability in that." Again, Gibson wasn't attacking a phantom of Jewish criticism. He was acknowledging the potential controversy to a journalist, and stressing the good news that Jesus died for all mankind.
Rich concluded: "But the real question here is why Mr. Gibson and his minions would go out of their way to bait Jews and sow religious conflict, especially at this fragile historical moment." Gibson has done nothing of the sort. Rich is the one sowing some wretched seeds here, suggesting it is controversial to proclaim the story of Jesus, that preaching the Christian gospel in a public square should be avoided as too divisive or troublesome.
Gibson believes something different. For him, the time is right to reawaken a spiritually deadened culture to the inspiring story of Jesus as Lord -- not as some doubt-riddled horny carpenter, or some oh-so-hip gay swinger -- and to remind us all of the unbelievable suffering He endured to give an everlasting gift to the world.
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