Saturday, January 27, 2007

Meet Mad Max..and his even madder friends

by SaraIt has to be a movie publicist's worst professional nightmare. One of the hottest movie stars in history is pulled over for erratic driving one July night in Malibu. He's belligerant and verbally abusive to the arresting officer, threating to "fuck him" and "get even" with him because he "owns Malibu." He moves on from there to an anti-Semitic tirade, calling the officer a "fucking Jew" and blaming Jews for causing "all the wars in the world."

Once he arrives at the sheriff's station, Our Star launches into a second act -- threatening to urinate on the cell floor, attempting to destroy a pay phone, and calling a female booking officer "sugar tits." And just to add to the fun: the deputies manage to get most of this epic performance on tape, which means their flimsy attempts at smoothing things over shred like gauze over the next 48 hours.

You gotta hand it to Mel Gibson's publicists for giving it the old Hollywood try, though. They did the usual spin, forcing him to issue a public apology that deserved an Oscar nomination for its improbable sincerity -- no doubt about it now, the guy can act -- and then performing the traditional Hollywood absolution and redemption rites by blaming it on the booze and checking himself into rehab until the story blew over.

Swept under the rug, at least in the mainstream media, was any mention of the Gibson family's long and notorious history with a deeply anti-Semitic strain of Catholicism -- a movement that's now 100,000 members strong and making increasing inroads with white supremacists and other factions of the authoritarian right. Today, a new report from the SPLC finally pulls that rug all the way back, showing us the cobwebs tying Gibson's intemperate outbursts to his deep commitment to radical traditionalist Catholicism -- webs that Gibson has done his level best to keep hidden throughout his career. Here's the summary:
Few Americans defended Mel Gibson's drunken rant about the evils of the Jews. But radical traditionalist Catholics did. A three-year investigation of this subculture by the Intelligence Report has found that these Catholic extremists, including the Gibsons, may well represent the largest population of anti-Semites in the United States. Organized into a network of more than a dozen organizations, scores of websites and several extremist churches and monasteries, radical traditionalists in the U.S. are preaching anti-Semitism to as many as 100,000 followers. A few, such as the lawyer for Terri Schiavo's family, Christopher Ferrara, are even movers and shakers in important right-wing Republican circles.
This report should not only pull the final curtain on Gibson's increasingly bizarre career as a mass purveyor of violent hate fantasies; it also greatly adds to our understanding of an emerging authoritarian subculture that's openly looking for ways to undermine American democracy. (As if we needed yet another one of those.) It's a worthwhile piece of Sunday reading, and also a worthwhile reason to support the SPLC if you're not doing so already.

No comments: