In 2004, Mel Gibson was interviewed for Readers Digest by Peggy Noonan. The magazine omitted some of Mel’s comments, but sent them to me in 2006 when Gibson was arrested for a DUI and had his notorious moment in which he barraged a police officer with anti-Semitic rants.
His unpublished remarks, according to the Digest’s publisher, were shocking. Gibson actually ridiculed the historically acknowledged number of Jews killed by Hitler.
Of the Holocaust, Gibson told Noonan: “I mean when the war was over they said it was 12 million. Then it was six. Now it’s four. I mean it’s that kind of numbers game …”
This was at the time that The Passion of the Christ was released. Readers Digest sent me the outtakes and I published them on August 2, 2006. Gibson was not drunk when he spoke to Noonan.
Two years later, drunk, Gibson asked the Malibu cop James Mee, “Are you Jewish? The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”
Just as Donald Trump’s and Billy Bush’s decade old remarks have come back to haunt them, so too have Mel Gibson’s.
Gibson has invested $70 million into a church in Agoura Hills (Malibu), California that doesn’t support the edict of what’s known as Vatican II. They hold the Jews responsible for the death of Christ. They don’t recognize the Pope as the leader of the Catholic Church. In turn, the Archdiocese doesn’t recognize Holy Family as a Catholic church.
Gibson’s father, now 98 years old, is an infamous Holocaust denier. Mel has never repudiated his father’s statements. Hutton Gibson told Christoper Noxon in that New York Times article linked to above: ”Go and ask an undertaker or the guy who operates the crematorium what it takes to get rid of a dead body,” he said. ”It takes one liter of petrol and 20 minutes. Now, six million?”
But now I’m getting calls and emails because Gibson has made a new movie called “Hacksaw Ridge.” The movie’s supposed to be good. The message is: Mel’s back, all that anti-Semitic stuff happened a long time ago, and everyone wants a hit.
Well, not so fast.
The actor also said to Noonan in 2004: “The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps. Many people lost their lives. In the Ukraine, several million starved to death between 1932 and 1933. During the last century, 20 million people died in the Soviet Union.”
Gibson also proved to be prescient in the March 2004 interview, addressing criticism then that he was anti-Semitic.
He told Noonan: “Nobody wants to have their name, you know, besmirched on the front of newspapers and people say wicked things about them and their family and call them all sorts of names, accuse them of being anti-Semitic and everything else. I mean that’s not part of my design. I don’t enjoy experiencing that. That’s just coming from some place that I have no control over.”
Gibson indeed has control over this. He can be a lot clearer, a lot more apologetic, and explain his church and his father, frankly.
We just saw a movie — “The Birth of a Nation”– ignored by the audience and distanced from its studio because of its filmmaker’s past. I don’t see any difference here. “Hacksaw Ridge” may be a terrific movie, but its creator still has a lot to answer for.