Friday, February 27, 2004

Enough Said
By way of Body and Soul:

It is vital that the Passion play be continued at Oberammergau; for never has the menace of Jewry been so convincingly portrayed as in this presentation of what happened in the time of the Romans," Hitler had said. "There one sees Pontius Pilate, a Roman racially and intellectually so superior, that he stands out like a firm, clean rock in the middle of the whole muck and mire of Jewry."

Passion plays of the "watch-the-nail-go-through-the-hand" sort have always served the fanatics. It's not the ressurrection--it's the pain, and--hey, look over here, HE's guilty!

It's getting ugly out there, people.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Weaseling of Mel's Supporters
I must be the only person in the world who could care less about Mel's latest bio....er....movie. But I have really been interested in people's reactions, pro and con.

Tonight there was a discussion in The Newshour about the movie. Two theology professors gave their impression of the movie. Now, in several discussions I've read lately, one of the "pro" arguments made most often can best be described as "it happened; deal with it." Or to paraphrase Mel, this is the story as written in the Gospels.

The "con" professor pointed out several places in the movie where Mel departed rather strongly from any and all Gospels and into the fevered imagination of the not-so-sainted Emmerich. Specifically, he discussed three: Christ being thrown off a bridge by a Jewish mob; a raven pecking out the eyes of one of the thieves crucified with Jesus (right after Jesus says "forgive them Father for they know not what they do"!); and the presence of devils and demons in the crowd. Interestingly, the "pro" theologian started defending those "additions" as forms of artistic expression.

Jeez. I didn't remember any conservative theologians standing up for artistic expression during the showings of The Last Temptation of Christ.

My opinion? As all four of you know, I'm a First Amendment absolutist. Mel has the right to make his movie and people have a right to see it. BUT...another memory surfaces. During the Dixie Chicks brouhaha, one of the arguments on the right was that with free speech come consequences: if you speak your mind, you must be prepared to pay the price.

I wonder how many of them will weasel out of applying their own dictum to Mel.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Weirdland
Sometimes I think I've passed through a wormhole and come out somewhere so strange that its only proper name is Weirdland. Only in Weirland would I find so much in common with Pat Buchanan!.

I happen to be a full supporter of Israel. My father, who thought Meier, Ben Gurion, Dayan, and Eban were modern-day superheroes, taught me to be a Zionist before I even knew there was a word for it. But I fail to see why that means I must deny Palestinians their own rights, or hope for a peaceful end to the conflict.

Much like Buchanan, I fear for a country mired in unending aggressive war. James Madison said it best: no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. And it is precisely that freedom that will be America's lasting legacy, not our overwhelming power. Most of the people of the world look at America and marvel that a citizen can tell the government to go pee up a rope without fear of a midnight knock on the door. Yes, terrible things happen in America, but much less than in other places; and most importantly, we stand as a living rebuke to all those who say that if the individual is not subordinate to the state a nation cannot survive.

The phrase that pisses me off the most is that "they hate us for our freedoms". If you mean "fundamentalists hate American freedoms," then we don't need to go outside our borders to find those that would gleefully restrict them. As for the great mass of people around the world, "they" do not hate us for our freedoms. They hate us when we do not live up to our great words, when we hypocritically deny others what we insist on preserving for ourselves. And the neocon's cardinal sin, in my book, is to hold two sets of standards, one for us and another for "them".

That's the real "ugly American": a neocon.