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Austin Cline

Mel Gibson, Holocaust Denier?

By February 4, 2004

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In the debates over Mel Gibson's upcoming film The Passion, one thing that has always been insisted by his defenders is that Gibson is not antisemitic and not a Holocaust Denier, even though his father apparently is. But is that really true? He was recently given a chance to demonstrate that and.... well, the results weren't very encouraging.

Peggy Noonan, a Catholic journalist, asked Gibson "You're going to have to go on record. The Holocaust happened, right?" According to The New York Post, Gibson responded:

"I have friends and parents of friends who have numbers on their arms. The guy who taught me Spanish was a Holocaust survivor. He worked in a concentration camp in France. Yes, of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. 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."

Why is this a problematic response? Because not once does Gibson actually acknowledge that the Holocaust occurred - not once does he state that the Nazis tried to exterminate the Jews because they were Jews. Instead, he uses some fancy footwork that is common among sophisticated Holocaust Deniers. David Bernstein explains:

Holocaust deniers, at least the sophisticated ones, don't deny that Jews were sent to concentration camps, and don't deny that Jews suffered during the war, and perhaps suffered a bit disproportionately because they were Jews. What they do deny was that the Germans singled out the Jews for genocide, that millions of Jews were murdered, and that Jews were sent to death camps, not simply to labor or concentration camps. Nothing that Gibson said was inconsistent with the views of a Holocaust denier, and, indeed, as I pointed out, his statement sounds a lot like the stated views of the editor of the Holocaust-denying Journal of Historical Review. This all may be innocent on Gibson's part, and, if someone would ask him directly, "do you believe that the Germans murdered approximately six million Jews during World War II" and he said "yes" I would leave it at that. But given that he grew up in an anti-Semitic family, with a Holocaust-denying father, and has now asserted views that are very much consistent with the views of a Holocaust-denier, I can't say that my presumptions are with him at this point.

Gibson also said something else interesting during the interview:

Of his dad, Gibson says, "My dad taught me my faith, and I believe what he taught me. The man never lied to me in his life."

I wonder if that includes statements about the Jews and about the Holocaust?


Update: Read about Mel Gibson's run-in with the law an anti-Semitic tirade during a drunk-driving arrest in which the police allegedly tried to cover things up.

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May 31, 2009 at 4:20 pm
(1) David says:

I thought all the same things (in fact, every single thing!) that you have stated here. He spoke like a Holocaust Denier that was beating around the bush. He needs to be confronted. If he does not admit it, people should boycott his films!

August 9, 2009 at 10:13 am
(2) Steve says:

Wow. Very interesting. His language is pretty ambiguous to me. I don’t know what to make of it.

August 27, 2010 at 4:40 am
(3) alexandre says:

russans put millions lives for your existance
so half of them were jews
How can you deny the facts
of the mass killing

pray for russian and scottish women
hate Germans if you are so rasist

April 3, 2011 at 5:57 pm
(4) Mel Gibson says:

What fu**in bulls**t. He said it, he said “some of them were jews in concentration camps.” He’s just acknowledging that millions more died as well. Stop trying to appropiate deaths in WW2 as a purely jewish catastrophe. Millions more died and in larger numbers than jews. The Romani, among many others were also a specific target of nazi policy. Stop being exclusively jewish and start being a little more generally human. Ohh crap, I guess Im an antisemite now right? Pfff….

April 3, 2011 at 7:34 pm
(5) Austin Cline says:

He’s just acknowledging that millions more died as well.

I explain in some detail why that is a problematic answer. Do you think you are capable of directly addressing what I wrote, or is the best you can imagine – pick something out of the beginning and proceed as thought nothing more had been written?

May 4, 2011 at 11:34 pm
(6) Doubtful says:

What you call “fancy footwork,” I call “uncomfortable honesty.” Such honesty is rare these days because there is no shortage of people like yourself waiting in the wings to impugn a person’s character if they do not throw themselves on the ground and affirm their belief in something that has now become a secular article of faith. Furthermore, why is it even important to you whether Gibson believes it happened or not? Does anyone who disagrees with your (seemingly shallow) understanding of the concentration camps warrant hatred, disdain and ostracization? Are they by default bad people because they can’t make themselves believe (for good reason)? Are you not familiar with research historians like Ernst Zundel, David Irving, Germar Rudolf, and Robert Faurisson (just to name a few)? When you get around to finding out who they are, you can tell me whether or not we need to also impugn their characters as well, I suppose. I know Zundel and Irving have actually been imprisoned for simply saying things on their speaking tours which the status quo doesn’t like regarding the Holocaust narrative. That alone should raise questions of “why” if the truth TRUELY need not fear scrutiny.

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