Mel Gibson dropped from New Orleans Mardi Gras amid outcry from Jewish groups

ADL, other groups welcome removal as ‘co-grand marshall’ of celebrity with history of ‘antisemitism and other forms of hate’; organizers cite unspecified ‘threats’

Mel Gibson (s.bukley/Shutterstock.com)
Mel Gibson (s.bukley/Shutterstock.com)

Organizers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras backpedaled Sunday on their decision to host Hollywood actor and director Mel Gibson as a celebrity guest at the parade after opposition, including from local Jewish groups, arose over the appointment.

The Krewe of Endymion, the largest group participating in the parade scheduled for February 18, announced on Saturday that Gibson would be a “Co-Grand Marshal,” a position reserved for celebrity guests.

However, the decision drew strong backlash from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and the Greater New Orleans Rabbinic Council, which, in a joint statement, cited Gibson’s “long history” of “antisemitic, racist and misogynistic slurs,” and his “half-hearted attempts to apologize.”

Subsequently, the Krewe of Endymion said on Sunday, less than 24 hours after announcing Gibson’s role, that it had “received significant feedback about our grand marshal announcement, [and] some of this commentary included threats that cause us great concern.”

The group did not specify the nature of the threats, nor their source.

“In the best interest of the safety of our riders, special guests and everyone that welcomes us on the streets, Mel Gibson will not ride as a co-Grand Marshal for our 2023 parade,” the statement added.

A float makes its way down the parade route as revelers vie for beads during the Krewe of Endymion Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, February 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Gibson has not commented on his removal from the New Orleans parade.

Social media users also expressed surprise at the Krewe of Endymion’s choice, with one Tweeting “Mel Gibson? Was David Duke not available?” a  reference to the former Ku Klux Klan leader. Another wrote: “I’m hearing Mel Gibson was Endymion’s fallback plan after Andrew Tate couldn’t make it.” Tate is a controversial online influencer accused of espousing misogynistic views.

According to The Daily Beast, the Krewe of Endymion boasts a budget of $8 million, and deploys 3,200 riders on 80 floats at each annual Mardi Gras parade.

The Jewish groups that voiced their opposition to Gibson’s inclusion welcomed the decision but said they were “appalled” at his appointment in the first place.

“Given his history of fueling antisemitism and other forms of hate, we find his choice as Grand Marshal of Endymion was completely insulting and shortsighted,” a joint statement said.

“Although we are relieved he is no longer riding, we hope the Endymion leadership will take the opportunity to learn why the selection of Mel Gibson caused such pain and disappointment to the Jewish community as well as the marginalized communities he has harmed in the past.”

It added: “Endymion choosing a Grand Marshal with a strong record of hatred sent the wrong message about the event.”

Gibson infamously claimed in 2006 in a drunken rant that Jews were responsible for “all the wars in the world,” and promoted antisemitic stereotypes in his 2004 blockbuster film “The Passion of the Christ.” Since then he has sought to get back into the Jewish community’s good graces, even donating to a Holocaust survivor aid project.

In 2020, Winona Ryder claimed that Gibson had called her an “oven dodger.” The claims were backed up by screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who said Gibson had repeatedly called Jews “oven dodgers,” “Hebes” and “Jew boys” in his presence.

In 2010, Gibson’s ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva claimed he had physically abused her and released a tape on which the actor could be heard making sexist and racist remarks, including telling her “if you get raped by a pack of n****s it’ll be your fault.”

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