Monday, December 24, 2007

On Fear of a Muslim Scourge

Below is the response I wrote to a recent email. The email contained a message, that you can read at the bottom of this post, that has been circulating around the internet. It (inaccurately) claims that schools in the UK have removed segments about the Holocaust from their curriculum because it offended Muslim students and/or their parents:

Dear So and So:

I am personally concerned about what I perceive as a constantly intensifying anti-Muslimism in the West, so I have given the email you forwarded some thought and have written this; hope you don't mind me sending a somewhat lengthy response! (But you did send the email!)

First of all, I discovered that this email has been making the rounds on the internet, and someone has published a rebuttal of it here:

Second, I found this article: .

Third, I think at the chore of the circulating email is a virulent anti-Mulimism, and I think that the writer of the email is blind to his/her own prejudice.

It is not government policy in Britain to stop teaching about the Holocaust, nor is there a widespread refusal on the behalf of schools to stop teaching about the Holocaust, or the Crusades, or any other matter that upsets SOME, not ALL, Muslim students (or their parents). What there is is a British government study that shows that a tiny minority of teachers and ONLY ONE UNIVERSITY have stopped the teaching of these things. So what there is is a trend--a very minor trend on behalf of SOME teachers in Britain to drop the teaching of these things. There are SOME teachers who are afraid. And it is a MINOR trend, and definitely not a government policy.

I would agree that teachers and institutions that do drop teaching the Holocaust--where the teaching of the Holocaust is a mandatory part of the school curriculum, WHICH IT IS NOT throughout the whole of the UK (see above links)--should be reprimanded/penalized. However, I believe that whoever originally wrote that email flew off into hysterics and is reproducing the very kind of prejudicial thinking that was at the root of the Holocaust, for the following reasons:

Not ALL Muslims are against this kind of teaching, and by far not ALL teachers in Britain are refusing to teach the Holocaust--but the email suggests such is the case in he UK. Such uncareful suggestion/careless thinking betrays, to my mind, a fear of a Muslim menace on behalf of the writer, much like fear of a Jewish menace once influenced people's thinking about society and politics. Black and White, simplistic and essentializing, and hysterical thinking is the very root of the fundamentalist kind of thinking that is always the cause of social entropy, of the problem of social harmony in society breaking down: It takes much more careful thinking/feelings for there to be peace, and such thinking takes EFFORT. Common sense--effortless, lazy thinking--usually is the enemy.

The myth of a Muslim scourge menacing Europe and America--i.e., the West--is increasingly influencing how many in the West think of the problems of their world, and this myth echoes the racist mythology of a Jewish Scourge.

Also, the same study found the following to be the case:
A third school found itself 'strongly challenged by some Christian parents for their treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict-and the history of the state of Israel that did not accord with the teachings of their denomination'.

The report concluded: "In particular settings, teachers of history are unwilling to challenge highly contentious or charged versions of history in which pupils are steeped at home, in their community or in a place of worship."
So why didn't the writer of the email also pick up on this? Certainly this issue--what I think of as the public bullying of education by religious fanatics--has been a very significant issue in the US--for example, the Kansas legislature mandating the teaching of Creationism in its state public schools! So why don't we need to guard ourselves against all Christians, and be weary of the (Christian and/or free-market) fundamentalism that drives the administration of GW Bush, just as much as we need to be weary of all Muslims and the fundamentalist-driven government of Iran?

The scourge that is menacing "us" today is that of unleashed fundamentalisms. Fundamentalists--Christian fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalists, and also free-market fundamentalists--as always are the ones driving this world into social entropy and ongoing, constant warfare. Fundamentalists are too angry and too lazy to think in anything other than black and white. And the writer of the email is thinking in Black and White.

Again, it is neither a Muslim nor a Christian scourge in general, but a growing Scourge of Fundamentalisms--of Muslim, Christian, Western and free-market fundamentalisms--that is troubling the world today. It is not a Clash of Civilizations, but a Clash of Fundamentalisms (if you'd like, have a read of this book with this latter title:

Though I do not care much in general for the author Christopher Hitchens, I could say along with him that "God is Not Great," when it is the God of a Muslim or Christian Fundamentalist (see his bestselling book here: And I agree with him that we need to get back on track and rigorously defend a secular public culture and the seperation of religion--ALL religion--from public (especially educational) policy. One can teach about religion in an objective manner, but you don't need to be a Christian or Muslim, or to teach Christian or Muslim or any other religious value systems, to teach children to be good and respectful. Not a single religion has, in practice, a monopoly on or can claim singular goodness!

Feel free to forward this to your list, if you'd like!



This week, the UK removed the Holocaust from it's school curriculum because it 'offended' the Muslim population because they say it never occurred.

This is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easy each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years since the 2nd. World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, starved, burned and humiliated while German and Russian people looked the other way!

Now more than ever, with Iran among others, claiming the Holocaust to be a myth, it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide! Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.
Reading it over again, I see a few other problems in this email:

It is prejudiced in a further way: "While German and Russian people looked the other way. . ."

It wasn't only Germans and Russians who looked the other way as the Holocaust and other acts of extreme violence and Genocide took place in the course of the war. Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Belgians, Italians, Hungarians, Romanians, etc.--EVERYONE ON THE CONTINENT, pretty much--also looked the other way. Some even argue that the Americans and British "looked the other way" as the Holocaust took place. Thus, the writer betrays a prejudice against Germans and Russians by mentioning only them in particular. There were people "looking the other way"--i.e., trying to survive and avoid conflict--wherever Nazi, Fascist, and Soviet regimes existed. Also, there is much-too-much one sided blame here, too much posturing in a holier-than-thou manner; that is, I wonder if the writer of this email would have behaved any differently in the same context. So, then, is the writer meaning to suggest that there is something in the nature of Germans and Russians that made them look the other way, something that the writer might not be susceptible to, had s/he had to survive under the extreme conditions as either a citizen of Nazi Germany or the USSR, or as the citizen of a country under Nazi, Fascist or Soviet occupaiton?

Another issue: It wasn't 20 million Russians who died, but 20 million SOVIET CITIZENS who died, of whom 10-11 million alone where citizens of Ukraine (and it is impossible to know how many among them were ethnic Ukrainians or Russians). That figure of 20 million dead includes Slavs, Balts, and Central Asians, as well as Siberians, Germans, Jews and others, all of whom lived in the USSR at the time. It is just more lazy thinking to use the labels "Soviet" and "Russian" interchangeably, even if it is customary and "common sense," and how everyone talked about the USSR during the Cold War. Many, if not most, members of non-Russian diasporas whose homelands were part of the USSR never spoke in such manner, and frequently protested such usage in the press and academia.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

El Gringo Does the Copa

as GW makes the rounds in mexico, brazil, guatemala, colombia and uruguay, the bush administration has been eager to make the trip appear as though it has nothing to do with hugo chavez, i.e., with the awakening from neoliberal torpor that is ongoing in latin america:

"I know you want to make this trip about Chavez," Snow [i.e., Tony Snow, the current whitehouse spokesperson] told reporters aboard Air Force One as it flew to Uruguay. "It's not."

--here for article; the article will come down from yahoo soon.

of course, this is a lie. a smoke screen. chavez himself summed up the purpose of bush's trip well, stating at an "anti-imperialist" rally in Buenos Aires, Agentina:
"I believe the chief objective of the Bush trip is to try to scrub clean the face of the empire in Latin America. But it's too late."
bush's trip has everything to do with chavez and the movement against the washington consensus that is gaining force in latin america, of which chavez is a leading figure.

in tandem to bush's latin american visit, the US press and bush administration spokepeople have also posed as though the adminsitration is holier-than-thou vis-a-vis chavez's penchant for calling bush names--i.e., devil, gringo, etc. though bush may not have engaged in any direct name-calling of chavez, his administration spokespeople have in the past called him names--dictator. their new tact of calling chavez "the bolivarian gentleman," as in the quote below, is a phony attempt to assume a holier-than-thou position in this labeling game:
Calling Chavez the "Bolivarian gentleman," Thomas Shannon, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemispheric Affairs, said he's made it clear that he doesn't see the value of any engagement with the United States. Returning from a trip last month to Brazil and Argentina, undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns said, "We don't obsess about Hugo Chavez."
one can criticize chavez for using such "colorful" language for how it plays into this game of who-seems-the-crazed-versus-gentlemanly stateman, but realities on the ground under chavez in venezuela--the real difference his government is making in the lives of the poor and lower middle classes--versus the true history of american intervention in latin america makes everything clear.

of course, this does not clear up the problem, since few people in mass society actually study any real history and thus for them, the media gets to paint the portrait. . .

not to mean, however, that i am personally opposed to chavez's rhetoric. . .

finally, if the US is not obsessing about chavez (i.e., about what he and his allies are successfully accomplishing today in latin america and against the Washington Consensus), why then did bush feel the need to state such things as the following:
"I don't think America gets enough credit for trying to help improve people's lives. And so my trip is to explain, as clearly as I can, that our nation is generous and compassionate."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

On Horowitz's Attack on His Imagined Left Wing Academy

Return of the Campus Witch Hunts
David Horowitz and the Thought Police

to begin with, the most crucial, to my mind, excerpt from the article:
DESPITE HIS alleged devotion to neutrality in the curriculum, Horowitz has yet to call on any business school to hire a labor leader or the economics department to hire enough Marxist economists to balance out the curriculum. I don't see him calling for critics of the petroleum industry to be welcomed in UT's big-oil geology department.


David Horowitz is a self-appointed general of the right-wing thought police. In 2006, he published The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. In it, he named me and 100 other professors as threats to national security akin to terrorists.

This spring, he is coming out with the next salvo in the war over the academy--a book called Indoctrination U, in which he has taken special aim at University of Texas (UT), where I teach, among others.

On February 17, the Daily Texan student newspaper published his op-ed claiming that there are two Universities of Texas--one a world-class institution, and another where "faculty regard themselves as activists, not scholars, and their curriculum is designed not to teach students how to conduct a disinterested inquiry, but to convert them to a sectarian ideology and recruit them to its causes."

"Students are being given an indoctrination, not an education," he claims--and as examples, he points to the Center for Women's and Gender Studies, the Communication Studies Department, and the Division of Rhetoric and Writing. I am affiliated with all of these programs and a clear target in his "new" book, but the Texan would not print my rebuttal.

Many of my colleagues say that we ought not "take Horowitz's bait." Among scholars and activists, he is regarded as something of a kook and a windbag. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has argued the weak line that disciplining faculty for supposed transgressions against academic freedom should be left up to university administrators, not politicians.

Then there are the organizations and professors who have devoted themselves to refuting Horowitz's "facts" about their publications and activism. I believe this also is a wrong approach, because his "facts" about faculty syllabi and political affiliations are not in question. It is urgent that we challenge Horowitz politically.

Horowitz's theatrics and demagoguery mask a very serious agenda: to discredit, harass and censor critical intellectuals and activists on our campuses. He knows that universities have historically been spaces of critical thinking and dissent. Students and professors have been organizing against the war and against the greed and hypocrisy of the right, and he would like nothing more than to hound us from our jobs.

* * *

CONTRARY TO his image as disaffected crank, Horowitz has been increasingly successful.

In state legislatures across the U.S., for example, he has proposed the misnamed "Academic Bill of Rights," which purports to call for balance and openness in the college curriculum--but which, in fact, would give legislators and university administrations a warrant to police faculty on the basis of "ideological neutrality." Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks explains that the Academic Bill of Rights is "merely a smokescreen for the McCarthyite agenda beneath the lofty rhetoric."

He has national influence as well. For example, Rep. John Boehner, the leader of the Republicans in the House, wrote last year that as former head of the Education and the Workforce Committee, he told Horowitz "the committee shared his concern about bias in colleges."

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, a protégé of Karl Rove and architect of George Bush's "No Child Left Behind Act," recently appointed a Commission on Higher Education to oversee U.S. universities.

Alan Jones, writing in Inside Higher Ed, reports, "Horowitz, with assistance from Karl Rove and the former House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, has briefed Republican members of Congress on his Academic Bill of Rights campaign, and DeLay has even distributed copies of Horowitz's political primer 'The Art of Political Warfare: How Republicans Can Fight to Win' to all Republican members of Congress. Rove refers to Horowitz's pamphlet as 'a perfect pocket guide to winning on the political battlefield.'"

In 2003, Horowitz started the right-wing campus watch group called Students for Academic Freedom, which encouraged students to sneak into classes to take notes and report on "suspicious" professors.

Even Horowitz's brief article in the Texan emboldened a group called the Young Conservatives of Texas to call for students to report any professor who is "biased"--translation: any professor who makes any political remark tangential to class material, criticizes the war, assigns readings by feminists and Marxists, and so on--to a Professor Watch List, which has its own Facebook page.

The YCT's letter to the editor published in the Texan stated, "Professor bias is a problem that must be confronted directly and vigorously if it is to be eliminated on the UT campus. For this reason, the Young Conservatives of Texas are reviving the Professor Watch List. Professors who use their authority to indoctrinate rather than to educate will be added. YCT is currently accepting submission forms from students who want a professor considered for addition to the Watch List."

This is a chilling McCarthyite tactic, and it is happening at universities across the country.

Horowitz's activities have prompted legislators and university administrators--including those at the University of Texas and others--to implement faculty codes of conduct, and his efforts have brought a number of scholars under scrutiny.

Horowitz claimed a victory in Pennsylvania after 2006 hearings on the Academic Bill of Rights proposal led the governing bodies of Temple University and Penn State to create new faculty guidelines, with language mirroring his proposal's prohibition of "irrelevant" political material and respect for divergent opinions, no matter how unsubstantiated they may be.

Under this requirement, professors should give equal weight and respect to creationism and evolution, or to racist views and antiracist views.

In this atmosphere, antiwar professors aren't safe, and a growing number of outspoken critical intellectuals are facing university firing squads. The University of Colorado has moved to dismiss American Indian scholar Ward Churchill in the wake of Horowitz's attacks.

Other targets include Douglas Giles, a religion professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago; professor of Islam Kevin Barrett at the University of Wisconsin; the widely respected University of Michigan Middle East studies professor Juan Cole, who was blackballed during a job search at Yale; Nancy Rabinowitz, who lost control of a center at Hamilton College after it invited Ward Churchill to speak; Nicholas De Genova of Columbia University; Timothy Shortell, who lost a chairmanship at Brooklyn College over his comments about religion; and Stanford University Middle East studies scholar Joel Beinin.

* * *

DESPITE HIS alleged devotion to neutrality in the curriculum, Horowitz has yet to call on any business school to hire a labor leader or the economics department to hire enough Marxist economists to balance out the curriculum. I don't see him calling for critics of the petroleum industry to be welcomed in UT's big-oil geology department.

It is obvious that his attempts to police freedom of thought are aimed at only one small part of the ideological spectrum. He would like nothing more than to see critical progressive faculty lose their jobs--not because we advocate orthodoxy, but because we question his orthodoxy.

Horowitz denounces teachers who tell the truth about racism and sexism, because he denies that racism and sexism exist.

He defended former Harvard University President Larry Summers, who stepped down amid an outcry at his remarks to the effect that women are biologically impaired in math and science. In a public lecture at the University of Texas, Horowitz claimed that the fact that Oprah Winfrey--whom he called "a fat Black woman"--has made it to the top of society proves that racism is no longer a barrier to success for most Black Americans. He has argued that Blacks benefited from slavery.

These arguments are ironic coming from a former left-wing activist who was once closely tied to the Black Panthers and sympathetic with a number of radical organizations. A child of Communist parents, Horowitz spent the 1950s and 1960s engaged in radical activism. He worked at the influential New Left publication Ramparts, becoming an editor.

But after a falling out with the Bay Area Panthers, Horowitz moved rapidly to the right. By 1984, he voted for Ronald Reagan and began building a new career as a denouncer of the left.

Working under the leadership of then-Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, Horowitz trained right-wing organizations and politicians dedicated to overthrowing the elected left-wing government in Nicaragua. In 1988, he served as a speechwriter for Sen. Bob Dole and socialized with Reagan, William Bennett and Newt Gingrich. Nation correspondent Scott Sherman reports that Horowitz was "part of the brain trust that launched anti-affirmative action Proposition 209 in California."

He has written numerous books, including Hating Whitey, in which he denounces Black activists and scholars, who he claims have betrayed the color-blind vision of Martin Luther King Jr. In his crusades against what he calls the "PC gulag," Horowitz started the Center for the Study of Popular Culture (CSPC), and a legal arm, the Individual Rights Foundation.

He maintains a daily online presence at the FrontPage magazine Web site, as well as at, which charts alleged links among progressive scholars, activists, culture workers, politicians and terrorists. He has an online column at, and his editorials appear in newspapers across the country.

The job of witch-hunter seems to pay well. In 2003, Horowitz took home more than $300,000 in compensation from the CSPC.

According to the AAUP, his various operations have taken in millions from an interconnected network of far-right foundations, including the Olin (a principle funder of the neocons' Project for a New American Century), Bradley (whose founder was an early supporter of the John Birch Society), Castle Rock (previously the Adolph Coors Foundation) and Scaife Foundations. In addition, he has tens of thousands of small donors solicited via e-mail.

David Horowitz is no penny-ante crackpot. He is a serious political operator with the resources, connections and staying power to do real damage.

He must be confronted wherever he appears, and whenever he launches his attacks--or down the road, we may be remembering the Horowitz years as we do the devastation wrought on the left by Joseph McCarthy.

DANA CLOUD is an associate professor at the University of Texas who found herself a target of right-wing witch-hunter David Horowitz.

This article originally appeared in the Socialist Worker.

got the article here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

how much freedom of speech in the US?

the following article was originally posted here.

Freedom of press needs shield law


Josh Wolf, videographer and blogger, is now the journalist imprisoned longest in U.S. history for refusing to comply with a subpoena. He has been locked up in federal prison for close to six months. In July 2005, Wolf was covering a San Francisco protest against the G-8 Summit in Scotland (G-8 stands for the Group of Eight industrialized nations: Britain, France, Russia, Germany, the U.S., Japan, Italy and Canada). He posted video to the Web and sold some video to a local broadcast-news outlet. The authorities wanted him to turn over the original tapes and to testify. He refused.

In a recent court filing, U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan says it's only in Wolf's "imagination that he is a journalist."

The Society of Professional Journalists must be equally imaginative. Their Northern California chapter named Josh Wolf Journalist of the Year for 2006, and in March will give him the James Madison Freedom of Information Award. "Josh's commitment to a free and unfettered press deserves profound respect," SPJ National President Christine Tatum said.

The SPJ is also honoring San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who had faced prison for refusing to reveal who leaked grand-jury testimony about steroid use in baseball. On Thursday a lawyer pleaded guilty to leaking them secret grand jury documents from the BALCO steroids investigation, sparing the two reporters from jail time.

The problem for Wolf? Independence. He lacks the backing of a large media organization that could agitate to protect his rights. Wolf says there is "a divergence between how the government's handled my situation as an independent journalist and how they've dealt with the corporate media, which have also been found in civil contempt."

The First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom ... of the press." By forcing journalists to hand over tapes, notes and other material, and to testify, the government is making just such a law. Whistle-blowers and others in dangerous situations will no longer come forward to provide information to reporters if they think their names will be divulged. Journalists must be free to protect their sources and to report the truth if democracy is to function.

Wolf's lawyer, Martin Garbus, one of the nation's leading First Amendment attorneys, says the government has done an end run around California's shield law, which would have guaranteed Wolf protection. The authorities called on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, or JTTF, which moved the case to federal court, where no shield law exists (as reporters in the Valerie Plame case discovered).

The grand jury is investigating whether arson was attempted on a San Francisco police car, though the squad car was not damaged beyond a broken taillight. A police officer was injured after the squad car he was in was driven into the protest march (that case was investigated then dropped by the local district attorney); however, Wolf insists he was not videotaping either incident. What is clear is that by focusing on the alleged attempted arson of the car, the JTTF can assert jurisdiction, as federal anti-terrorism dollars, they say, paid for part of the car. With those legalistic jurisdictional acrobatics, Wolf is stripped of California shield-law protections, and remains locked up without charge until he turns over his tape and submits to the Bush administration inquisitors.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a brief in his support, pointing out how JTTFs across the country, under the guise of investigating "terrorism," are targeting anti-war groups and compiling databases of law-abiding citizens critical of the administration.

Wolf, 24, is staying healthy in prison, reading a lot and learning from other inmates. He mails entries to be posted to his blog at Garbus expects him to remain in prison at least until the grand jury expires in July.

Freedom of the press means freeing journalists to do their work. Congress can ensure that by passing a federal shield law.

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

US's Self-Proclaimed Decision-Maker Makes Wrong Decision, Again

from this link to an AP piece on yahoo (the link will disappear in a couple of days):

"It's pretty clear that a resolution that in effect says that the general going out to take command of the arena shouldn't have the resources he thinks he needs to be successful certainly emboldens the enemy and our adversaries," Gates said Friday.

"I think it's hard to measure that with any precision, but it seems pretty straightforward that any indication of flagging will in the United States gives encouragement to those folks," Gates said, referring to the anti-government forces in Baghdad. He added that he was certain this was not the intent of those who support the congressional resolution, "but that's the effect."
then the executive branch shouldn't escalate a war that is opposed by the majority of those in the legislature and in society in general. the US president is not a fucking king and sole decision-maker, and though elected for a four year term, he should look at mid-term elections as a referendum on his performance.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fight Hypocrisy, Prosecute their Duplicity and Complicity

Got this from a friend today and thought it brilliant:
Please join me in taking the time today to write an email or make a phone call to your senator or congressman to request the extradition of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney to Iraq to be tried for war crimes by an Iraqi citizens's jury, and subsequently sentenced if found guilty.
Like Saddam Hussein, Cheney and Rumsfeld have the blood of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands on their hands as the result of their policies.
Let's allow the Bush administration to demonstrate their integrity and clear vision by administrating their brand of justice consistently.

Thank you.

Pass this on if you can.

For the State of Minnesota:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) Fax: 202-228-2186
Sen. Norm Coleman
(R) Fax: 202-224-1152
Rep. Gil Gutknecht
(R-1) Fax: 202-225-3246
Rep. John Kline
(R-2) Fax: 202-225-2595
Rep. Jim Ramstad
(R-3) Fax: 202-225-6351
Rep. Betty McCollum
(D-4) Fax: 202-225-1968
Rep. Martin Sabo
(D-5) Fax: 202-225-4886
Rep. Mark Kennedy
(R-6) Fax: 202-225-6475
Rep. Collin Peterson
(D-7) Fax: 202-225-1593
Rep. James Oberstar
(D-8) Fax: 202-225-0699

NOTE: if you are from somewhere outside of minnesota, it is easy to find online the emails and phone #s of your congresspeople and senators for your area.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mel Gibson--The Director as Torturer

been gone from here for a really long time. but now i want to rant.

i went to see mel gibson's apocalypto last week. as an enthusiast of historical fictions (books and movies), i thoroughly enjoy seeing or reading how other minds try to reinvent the cities, the customs, the dress, the conversations, the uses of technology, etc., of socieites long ago, and here was the first major film to take up a recreation of a part mesoamerican history.

i should have known not to expect much from the box-office's leading snuff filmaker. in fact, i went to the film already skeptical and highly guarded, but that was not enough.

mel gibson is an extremely deranged man who has made yet another outrageously inaccurate, ideologically absurd and insulting film (see this excellent commentary here) that is full of blood and gore.

since the article linked to above covers all of the ideological bullshit and obfuscations of gibson's latest peice of shit--labelling the film with anything more than a cuss word is to give it too much praise--i will comment briefly on gibson's indulgence of his passion for blood and guts. gibson has no qualms about subjecting his audience to his private fascination with cruelty while telling them his (flawed, racist, and ignorant) story.

gibson relishes in splashing blood on camera lenses and in conjuring the most minute, second-long glimpses of gore that he can throw at an audience to disrupt an otherwise flowing moment. he is far more affective than any horror movie director, the latter of whose gore usually is fanciful and removed from reality. with gibson, there is an air reality to the gore, but crucially, there is no critical distance in the portrayal. gibson does not for a moment intend to critique human cruelty--it is rather clear that this director delights in the bloodletting he portrays and derives juissance from his affective representations of cruelty. gibson's two latest movies present the director as torturer--and not in metaphor but in real affect, pure and simple. the passion of the christ was more about the testosterone level and sadomasichism of the director than it was about spirituality and a real, historical and suffering figure of world history, while apocalypto is. . .fucking ridiculous (as was the passion, too).