Believe What You Want to Believe

A few years ago, at the height of the O.J. Simpson trial, I remember walking down Watt Way at USC, and seeing all the TV cameras looking for “reactions” from the students. The journalists would ask people what they thought of O.J. and how his actions reflected on his alma mater. If someone answered, “I don’t care,” then they moved on to the next person, until they had a Trojan on camera saying how outraged they were about the trial and/or the verdict.
I was reminded of this when I saw this story, about the opening of Mel Gibson’s The Passion in Egypt. The first person quoted is a cretin who seems to not understand that, according to Islam, the crucifixion never happened and since there was no Deicide it doesn’t matter who is responsible. Of course, there were other people quoted in this article. There’s the scholar who thinks people shouldn’t see the movie because it portrays a prophet in the flesh (Islam shuns graphic images of prophets.) There’s the cleric who sees this controversy as involving Christians and Jews, and that it’s irrelevant to Muslims. There’s the Aramaic speaker who is happy to watch the first ever Aramaic-speaking movie. But these people are buried halfway down the article, so you’d have to read past the anti-Semitic idiocy first. Of course, this article is already getting linked everywhere by people who were convinced that The Passion was going to unleash a torrent of anti-Semitic feelings in the Arab world and needed a handful of quotes, like those in this article, in order to feel vindicated. As for whether the movie is a hit in the Arab world, I’m not sure why people expect the average Arab/Muslim movie goer to be any less curious about a controversy-laden movie than the average American movie goer.