Thursday, September 28, 2006

OP-ED: Mel Gibson's Rat Race, ByNeal AbuNab

Mel Gibson’s rat race
By Neal AbuNab

You are authorized to republish this article free of charge.Contributions are welcome Please email: Contact Neal AbuNab (313) 506-4409, for all other inquiries. Length of article can be edited according to requirement of editors.Aramedia, P.O.Box 7596, Dearborn, MI 48121, USA All Rights reserved 2006

Some times it feels like we’re always in a race with time. We’re always in a hurry to get things done or racing to get some where fast or just trying to meet some body else’s deadline. Being in a hurry is part of our nature. Impatience to fulfill our most basic needs is imbued in our creation. A baby cries forcefully demanding its milk while a fully-grown corporate executive pounds his fist on the table demanding work to be done.

We’re always racing but we never seem to catch up. Superstar Mel Gibson is telling us to relax and enjoy the ride before it all ends in 2012. Whenever this man speaks some body makes him apologize. The other day he took his new movie, Apocalypto, to a film festival to promote it and made some remarks critical of the Iraq war and the decline of our civilization.

Mel Gibson’s work in movies like Braveheart and the Patriot demonstrate that he is a “for God and for country” type of man. God weighed heavily on his heart when he made “The Passion of the Christ” which infuriated the Jewish institution in America. Then he made his famous anti-Jewish remarks on July 28th when he was arrested for drinking and driving. He cursed at the officers and told them: “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in this world.” Obviously, he was disturbed by the Israel-Lebanon war.

The following day he ate his words and groveled in one apology after the other to the Jewish community. They let the storm die down but they never forgave him and he lost some film contracts in the end. Then, he pleaded no contest to the drinking and driving offense on August 18. The Judge ordered him to get treatment for alcoholism and to do some public service work. On August 20, the Los Angeles Times wrote an editorial calling for disqualifying Mel Gibson from doing public service announcements because he was not a good role model. The paper said: “Gibson should be declared celebrity non grata, left to wrestle with his own demons in private, as most other bigoted people get to do. Obscurity would be the most fitting punishment for the man.”

What do they want from the man besides the whole hearted apology that he made? Maybe he has to check himself into an “Anti-Semitism Rehabilitation Center” to cleanse himself of any critical thoughts of Jews. After completing such a program he will be singing their praise and preaching that they are God’s chosen people. Otherwise, he should re-consider his entire existence as a public figure. I am sure that Mel has millions and millions of dollars that he can afford to speak his mind freely. That’s why his apology is sincere and Jews must accept it and move on. The Pope made anti-Muslim remarks and then he apologized. No one called for his resignation or told him to cancel his existence as a public figure. We have to foster an atmosphere of dialogue that can accept the honest truths of all points of view.

In the latest remarks, Mel Gibson drew a parallel between the United States and the doomed Mayan civilization; the subject of his latest movie. He said: “the precursors to a civilization that’s going under are the same, time and time again.” To illustrate his point he asked: “what’s human sacrifice? If not sending guys off to Iraq for no reason.”

Everyone is critical of the Iraq war but why did such benign remarks draw any attention at all? It is because of the Jewish connection and the implication that Jews are bringing this civilization down. Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, made the linkage for us by stating that "if Jews are responsible for all the world's wars, then by that logic, they are responsible for the war in Iraq.” He wants the 50-year old Oscar winning director to “put matters like that to rest. Until he does, it just hangs over him.”

But the following day Mel offered an apology to the doomed Mayans and not to the Jews. He said: “"Yesterday, when I compared the United States to the doomed Mayan civilization, I had no idea that there were any doomed Mayans still around. I was basically going on the assumption that since they were doomed a long time ago, I was pretty much in the clear."

We learned that even doomed Mayans can protest and their voice does not come from the grave. The National Coalition of Doomed Mayans issued an angry statement saying: “we Mayans may be doomed, but we have feelings.” The group is urging all doomed Mayans to boycott Gibson’s latest film. That should teach him a valuable lesson!

Gibson is a devout Christian and his politics is mostly conservative. He may have offered such scathing criticism of the Iraq war to appease the mostly anti-war Hollywood crowd. It seems like he needs to hire a political consultant these days, somebody like Dick Morris who advised Clinton. His anti-war remarks now probably alienated his core group of conservative supporters. His anti-Jewish remarks alienated the Hollywood crowd and Democrats; and his anti-Mayan remarks alienated the dead people of all bygone civilizations. Will all this affect his popularity or potential sales at the box office? Probably not, and I predict that the opposite will happen.

More people will see his movies than ever before. His remarks represent strong undercurrents in the political discourse. The Rapture Theory and the prophecy of the End Times are current topics discussed by most evangelists and media talk shows. Gibson seems to believe in these ideas and predicting the end of this world is a fulfillment of his convictions. He said: "I don't mean to be a doomsday guy, but the Mayan calendar does end in 2012, boys and girls." He seems to be giving us a hint about the end of our world as the United States falls to its doom like the Mayans did.

The concept of the End Times has been in the subconscious of man since the beginning of time, when he invented the idea the he was created in an instant by a Supreme Being we call God. Any race that has a starting point must also reach a Finish Line. If God created Adam about 10,000 years ago and started this human race then at some point we are going to get tired of running in this marathon. There will be an end to this race.

We will inevitably reach our doom because of the deeds of our own hands. That doesn’t mean the end of human existence. It is simply the end of the rat race that we have created with our own hands, where we turned ourselves into mere robots in a huge industrial machine.

It may also be the end of our racist thinking when we begin to see all humans as equals regardless of their “race, color, religion, or ethnicity.” There is always a silver lining in every cloud and the end of our current way of life might also be the starting point of the God-given promise of a spiritual way of life. Mel Gibson might be right after all when he said “I don't mean to be a doomsday guy.”

Neal AbuNab is a Michigan-based author of “The War on Terror and Democracy”- available at He is a commentator on Arab and Muslim affairs and his weekly column appears in the Arab American News. He can be reached at: