Some may wonder why Mel Gibson's escapade last weekend -- getting roaring drunk at Moonshadows, zooming down PCH with an open bottle of tequila, then expounding to the Jewish sheriff's deputy who arrested him about Gibson's hitherto-denied sociopolitical views of the Jewish people -- got so much press that it eclipsed the hideous tragedy in Seattle, in which an anti-semite from the Tri-Cities allegedly held a gun to a 13 year old girl's head, went into a Jewish community center, murdered a woman, and wounded others. After all, the incident in Seattle was an actual murder; Gibson's tequila-fueled driving was just a murder waiting to happen.
One clue may be found in Steve Lopez's column in the LA Times last Thursday. Lopez discussed e-mails he received about Gibson, many of them favorable to the Road Warrior. These went beyond the banners folks held up during OJ's slow-speed chase. At least none of the banners displayed (to my knowledge) expressed approval of the practice of (allegedly) slaying one's ex-spouse. But with Gibson, according to Lopez:
"[...]I've read far too many e-mails from readers supporting Gibson's anti-Semitic remarks, which included his accusation that 'the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.'"
Lopez proceeds to quote some of the most virulent comments, which I won't repeat here -- basically because I'd rather not give them more bandwith.
So beyond America's treatment of its movie stars as the substitute for the royalty it rejected back in 1776, Gibson's comments are newsworthy as reminders that anti-semitism is still alive and well in America, and just waiting for a chance to express itself -- whether in a drunken tirade; an e-mail to a newspaper columnist; or a sick act of violence. Sometimes the rock gets lifted, revealing the rot beneath.