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For those "in the know," for the head of Disney to make this type of announcement is highly unusual. It was more than unusual; it was phenomenal and virtually unprecedented. I was frankly amazed when I read the report early yesterday evening.
Eisner's proclamation was an affirmation of Gibson's proven directorial talent. It proclaimed the potential box office drawing power of his project. Strangely, there were no reports that Disney would distribute the film on any television news shows. Eisner's praise was not picked up by any of the talking heads at CNN, NBC, CBS or even Disney's ABC.
The report first saw the light of day in print in an obscure UPI report according to the reporter, Roderick Beaman. I quote briefly from the report:
Wait - - this report got even better:
"Any viewing puts the lie to that contention", he said. "I have been a lapsed Jew but after viewing what Christ did, I am returning to the faith of my fathers. Jesus was a reformer who wanted his people to live their lives in accordance with the principles of Moses and the prophets that many of his contemporaries had forgotten. I'm going to try to do the same."Now I was shaking my head in amazement. But the report improved as I read it:
In further stunning developments, a coalition of Hollywood's brightest luminaries has announced that they have collected over $100 million dollars to help defray the costs of the distribution. Liberal activists James Garner, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman and Steven Speilberg have contributed undisclosed amounts to the fund. Susan Sarandon, with her husband, Tim Robbins by her side, announced the founding of the committee that is spearheading the fund-raising drive. The personnel who are supporting effort reads like a Who's Who of Hollywood. * * *This was just too much. I could not believe my eyes and scanned ahead in the article. Near the bottom of the article, I had found the key to this mystery. The author could not contain his truly bitter sarcasm:
It would be wonderful if all of this were true but it's all a hoax. * *
Just when I was enjoying myself, and feeling a little foolish for falling for the clever trick, I was jerked back to reality. The next comment nailed me to the wall:
My bet is that this movie will be such a huge box office success that materialistic Hollywood will line up to do another project like it. Like all great leftist institutions, Hollywood worships its sole God - money.It had nailed me because I had also mentioned the probable huge financial success of Mel's "Passion." On August 13th, I had published a second commentary on Mel's film and suggested he open it across the U.S. for a limited "sneak preview." I have redacted a brief excerpt:
My commentary and its mirroring views had caused me to register a bit of alarm. This new spoof was a direct attack on the "political agenda" of an inner circle of Hollywood A-List people. We were both saying that the potential commercial value of Mel's project would wake up the distributors and pressure them by waving money in their faces.
I was shocked by my realization of what the brewing controversy over "The Passion" had illuminated deep within me. For a time I put myself in the shoes of Michael Eisner, Steven Speilberg and other well known power players in Hollywood. I pictured myself as having a European Jewish heritage and a history of many close relatives killed at terrible places like Dachau, Majdanek or Buchenwald.
Suddenly, I was transported back in time to my visits to the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles. I was remembering my own emotional reactions at the time: shock, despair and bitter anger. My anger was directed only in substantial part toward Hitler's Germany. The rest was directed at the governments of United States and Great Britain because I had studied my history. I had learned that Churchill and Roosevelt had known and understood what the Nazis were doing in Europe: Hitler was methodically wiping out people with any trace of Jewish ancestry.
Deeply shaken by this realization, I was forced to come to grips with my father's past and my own: My father was a man with a secret that he protected most of his life. He was of Native American heritage. He was called a "half breed" when he was growing up. There was no more vile smear in the 1920's than "drunken redskin." His father and my grandfather was born of native blood of the Blackfoot Nation. Which means I am a quarter Blackfoot myself. But why is this important and what does it have to do with European Jews?
At one time the Blackfoot Nation controlled a vast region in Montana and Alberta, Canada. The nation was made up of a confederacy of four tribes and controlled trade routes and key access to the Oregon Trail. Known as "Lords of the Great Plains" this nation at one time numbered about 250,000 souls. (Source) The Blackfoot were said to be the most powerful confederacy of Native People on the Great Plains.
They were defeated by the U.S. government in a Genocidal Biological Warfare attack of profound and monumental cruelty. In 1837, the Blackfoot were intentionally infected with smallpox by using old Army blankets that had been exposed to the disease. Because they had never been exposed to this disease before they suffered about a 98% death rate for those infected. The Blackfoot Nation was nearly wiped out by smallpox. This cruel tactic probably saved the U.S. Army from a long and bloody war in the West.
What I have in common with Jewish people is our shared heritage of surviving the unspeakable and horrific genocide of our people. Certainly Hitler's Holocaust was the most terrible case of racial and cultural genocide in history. Over 7,000,000 were murdered. That number is sickening and mind boggling today.
But many races have suffered unspeakable racial and cultural genocide. Certainly the Blackfoot Nation suffered. But not only the Blackfoot: The Mandan, Assiniboine, Nez Perce, Apache, Hopi, Cheyenne, Lakota, Cherokee, Shawnee, Paiute, Cree, Potowatomie, Navajo, Crow and many other tribes. But the list does not stop there. The list of people affected by genocide goes on and on and includes most of the world: The Ukraine, Bosnia, Ireland, Armenia, Kosovo, Iraqi Shia, The Sudan, Rawanda, Brazil, Columbia, ad infinitum.
The world is a cruel and unforgiving place. Over seven million Ukrainians were cruelly starved to death by Stalin. Some say over 14 million people were starved and executed by Stalin. How many Irish were starved by Britain in the Potato Famine? Over one million souls. How many thousands of Africans were tortured, beaten and killed while being shipped to the colonies or the U.S. to work as slaves? How many blacks were lynched by mobs? Does anyone even have a reasonable guess?
What the world really needs is more compassion. More understanding. More faith in God. More prayers and much more forgiveness for each other. The message of God's love for all mankind is embodied in "The Passion." The message of the New Testament is that Jesus died for the sins of all mankind. His blood was shed for all of us together in this cruel and unforgiving world. All mankind is guilty for Jesus' suffering. All of mankind is responsible equally. We are all equal as victims together, and more profoundly, as persecutors together.
With genuine compassion and understanding for the concerns of the Jewish community, I believe that censorship efforts and protests against this film are misguided. "The Passion" is reported to be a great and artistic film featuring many outstanding performances. It deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. Ideally, we will all be elevated and united by the tears we shed when we see this film.
Read my other reports on"The Passion"
More Great Reports on "Mel News"
Posted by Douglas Oliver on September 5, 2003 at 11:35 AM