Mel Gibson’s octogenarian dad, Hutton Gibson, isn’t a kook. He just comes to The Passion of the Christ from an odd angle. He hails from the sturdy white nativist tradition whose most recent antecedents in the U.S. trace back to celebrated industrialist Henry Ford. It was Ford who popularized the myth of the demon Jew. His text was the supposedly secret document called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which purported to lay out the maniacal schemes of a group of rabbis crouched over gravestones in an ancient Prague cemetery in the middle of the night. These men plotted the enslavement of the Anglo-Saxon world even to the point of installing a disguised Jew as pope. (Of course, The Protocols were a fake, created in 19th-century Russia by czarist police, but that didn’t stop Ford or countless others.)
It was a ghastly plot with Jews running around all over the place causing trouble. They intended to capture the financial world by taking over the Federal Reserve System, which they had cleverly created. (“Greenspan tells us what to do,” says Hutton Gibson, referring to the Fed chief. “Someone should take him out and hang him.”) They would take over the banks and cause the farmers to go broke through usurious lending practices and then grab their land. White people would be transformed into robots in a Jewish Communist state. Gerald L.K. Smith, the rabble-rousing preacher of the 1930s, saw the plot thickening as Roosevelt got together with evil Stalin to carve up the world according to Jewish tenets. Roosevelt was a far more frightening figure than Hitler, and at one point Smith advanced the theory that Roosevelt had not really died but was being kept hidden in an insane asylum by the Jews, who one day would return him as “president of the world.” And so on. The Holocaust? How could there have been a Holocaust when Jews were wandering around on the streets all over America? Or as Hutton Gibson put it last week, “They claimed that there were 6.2 million in Poland before the war, and they claimed after the war there were 200,000—therefore he must have killed 6 million of them,” he said. “They simply got up and left! They were all over the Bronx and Brooklyn and Sydney, Australia, and Los Angeles.”
With this background, you won’t have much trouble figuring out what went down during the Passion.
Additional reporting: Ashley Glacel and Alicia Ng
J. Hoberman’s review of The Passion of the Christ
“The Backlash Passion: a Messianic Meller for Our Time” by Richard Goldstein
“Mel Gibson’s Jesus Christ Pose: The Passion of the Christ Marks the Latest Chapter in the Making of a Hollywood Martyr” by Jessica Winter