Jonah Goldberg
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But, either way, I still have a problem with the controversy. First of all, what if it's true that some Jews were culpable in Jesus' crucifixion? It seems pretty obvious that some Jews were, in fact, in on it. And, it's equally obvious that some Jews weren't (Jesus, after all, was Jewish). That's why I insist on putting quotation marks around "the Jews," because such a collectivity only exists in the minds of those who cannot see Jews as individuals.

But even if "the Jews" of two millennia ago deserve a share of the blame, so what? If you think it's ludicrous for Americans today to pay reparations for slavery or to hold a German teenager personally responsible for the Holocaust, how much more absurd is it to hold Jews responsible for the actions of a few Jews 20 centuries ago?

How much more ludicrous is it for a religion that champions forgiveness and love to blame all Jews for the actions of a few of our great-great-great-great (fill in the rest of the greats yourself) grandfathers? I'm no expert on Christianity, but group punishment and hereditary guilt strike me as remarkably un-Christian (and un-American) concepts.

Of course, fear of hypocrisy didn't stop some Christians at different times and places from making the lives of Jews miserable. Some Christians persecuted Jews out of a misguided effort to save their souls. More often the persecution was based in a desire for vengeance or simply out of hatred. And that hatred endures. In fact, it will endure regardless of what this movie says.

Yes, "The Passion" will probably stir up anti-Semitic acts by those looking to get stirred up. The Christ-killing story has always been an excuse for anti-Semitism, not a cause of it. After all, while there were attacks against Jews, there were no pogroms to hunt down the descendents of Pontius Pilate and the other Romans who were not only guilty of deicide but also responsible for the centuries of persecution Jesus' followers suffered.

Even if there is zero anti-Semitism in Gibson's heart or in his movie, that won't change the fact that "The Passion" will probably stir up Jew-hatred among some folks who are so inclined. I don't see why that fact should keep Gibson from making his movie. And as to whether it is worth making the movie in the first place, well, we can't answer that question until we see the film.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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