“Lousy Jew!” shouts the jackbooted Nazi.
“Dirty n*****!” shouts the hooded Klansman.
“Free Katie!” shouts the message on a t-shirt, its smug owner confident her hateful little statement is totally different than other displays of bigotry and prejudice.
It isn’t different. It’s only more covert.
Hi! Richard Elfman here, Senior Film Editor at Buzzine. I’m also a Jew. And also, with thick lips and (formerly) kinky red hair during my days as an Afro-Latin percussionist, rumored to be part black–but that was only a rumor. And… a little drum-roll ladies and gentlemen… also a Scientologist.
Unless you’ve been in a deep coma lately, you’ve probably heard about the dust up between Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields. Brooke has unwittingly become the poster girl for the 23 billion-dollar psychiatric drug industry, beating their drum for antidepressants in her popular new book about “post-partum depression.” Tom Cruise disagreed with her position on drugs and told Matt Lauer on “The Today Show” that there is no such thing as a “chemical imbalance” [of the brain], that he was against the drugging of children, and that psychiatry was a pseudoscience. The next day, Brooke Shields, baby clutched righteously to bosom, came swinging back at Tom, followed by a gang of reporters only too eager to jump in and bring down the Top Gun. You would think Tom threw a telephone at Brooke or something. Never mind that Dr. Joseph Glenmullen (Harvard Medical School) later told Katie Couric that Cruise was correct and that there are no proven biochemical brain imbalances and some other brains within the brain community, like Dr. Fred Baughman (American Academy of Neurology), agreed 100 percent with the actor´s criticism of anti-depressants and psychiatry.
In all due respect to Brooke Shields (who I, along the rest of human race, adore to watch and find her smart, beautiful, talented and infinitely charming), not all of us agree with her views on the subject of psychiatry and mental drugging. A informal CNN poll done during the height of the media circus found that 31,000 out of 100,000 people agreed with Cruise’s statement that psychiatry was a pseudoscience. That’s rather a large percentage of people. That means for every seven of you ready to let some shrink blast a thousand volts into someone’s brain–a practice still widely in use today–there are three others not so willing to have people’s minds blown–whether it be by electro-convulsive “therapy” or powerful anti-depressant mind drugs (see Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights).
So why the big gang up and get down on Tom Cruise? If Richard Gere were to say that he disagreed with Brooke because he was a Buddhist and preferred meditation and various holistic approaches over mind-altering drugs, I don’t think Richard would have been so vilified. If Jamie Foxx were to say that, as a Christian Baptist, he preferred a more traditional church-based approach over a psychiatric/chemical one, I don’t think he would be smirked at and scorned (see http://christian-parenting.learninginfo.org). And, digressing a bit, if some other hot, hunky, handsome, mega-famous movie star jumped for joy on Oprah’s couch simply because he fell in love, I don’t think anyone would be wearing t-shirts warning the poor object of his affection to “Run Katie Run!” No. I think the real intent of the t-shirt is a nasty, covert, backhanded slur at Tom Cruise’s religious beliefs. “Run because he’s a billionaire Adonis and the hottest movie star on the planet?” Or “Run because of his religious beliefs (and I’m too cowardly to come right out and say it)”.
This is nothing new. Without giving away my age, I grew up in a Leave It to Beaver time and place when it was simply accepted that Jews and blacks were not quite as good as Caucasian gentiles. “Don’t trust a Jew,” and “Stay away from blacks.” As a little Jewish kid I was often beat up because I “killed Christ.” Hell, I didn’t even know who He was the first few times I got my face punched in. I remember the snide remarks at Boy Scout Camp, backhanded “jokes,” the coded understanding among the guys when they snickered over any Jewish sounding name. (Ironically, as the demographics of my neighborhood changed from white to black, I was finally accepted in a way that I never had been among my Caucasian “friends.”) The funny thing is that prejudiced people never think that they are prejudiced–because they, of course, have a good “reason” to stigmatize the particular group they don’t like.
Be it Romans crucifying Christians or our fellow Americans chasing Mormons from town to town and lynching them from trees, as once was the case, religious prejudice is nothing new. But whereas the Church of the Latter Day Saints has now been accepted into the mainstream of American culture, Scientology is now the new kid on the block. You no longer read distortions and snide slurs in the mainstream press about the Mormon’s founder or its religious tenets, as they are no longer “controversial“; a term certain snide reporters link to the word Scientology. Controversial?
Controversial what?! We feed our kids, mow our lawns, brush our teeth, pay our taxes… If you prick us, do we not bleed? It’s no way a cult–people are free to come and go as they please. It’s totally non-denominational, so persons of all faiths can still interpret their own view of the Supreme Being. No one is told to believe anything that isn’t true to them. It’s not even about “believing.” It’s simple, practical, step-by-step methods to achieve goals, realize potential, and help others. These services don’t have to cost a fortune either (another myth). If someone isn’t happy and wants their donation back, they get their money back. Period. I’d like to see how long psychiatry would last if they offered a money back guarantee. Could you picture the run on the bank?
And as a Jew, I find it particularly dismaying when I hear or read bigoted crap coming from fellow Jews who, of all people, should know better (some of us work in the media, if you haven’t noticed).
“The Protocols of the Elders of Scientology.”
I sometimes run into people who spew crap about Scientology although they have never (knowingly, at least) met a real Scientologist or actually read a real Scientology book. They’ve “heard” something about it over the Internet. Well, about a hundred years ago, in Czarist Russia, the secret police created a forgery of supposed “notes” coming from Jewish “headquarters” in France that laid out a secret Jewish conspiracy for taking over the world. It was a pack of unadulterated horseshit known as the “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. The anti-Semites bought it. Three decades later, Hitler used it to justify the persecution of Jews. Well, ladies and gentlemen, a century later, the “Protocols” still have a rabidly anti-Semitic Holocaust-denying following who now write about it over the Internet. In 2002 it was produced in a 41-part series over Egyptian television. In 2003 a Syrian-produced version of the “Protocols” aired over the widely viewed Hezbollah network. (And, in all fairness to my Muslim and Arab friends, I must admit to know more than one Israeli who thinks badly of all Arabs no matter what; so hatred and prejudice can certainly cut across all racial, ethnic and religious lines.)
My point is that those who have attacked Jerry McGuire recently have some really dark forces behind them, many of whom hide behind rocks online. The few times I have stumbled onto some anti-Scientology junk online, I was appalled at the sheer level of hatred, lies, ignorance and/or deliberate twisting of facts. No different from the Hateful who stir up the Ignorant regarding Jews. I have never murdered a Christian baby (per the legend) to get the blood to make my Passover matzoh. I swear! And to those who say that I do, quoting the Rain Man’s younger brother regarding those who attack his religious beliefs, or for that matter, to those who attack anyone’s religious beliefs: “Fuck â€˜em!“