Kwade is a freelance writer who is always in pursuit of education. He feels every subject is fascinating and worth studying.
What Did Liam Neeson Say That Upset People?
Liam Neeson shared a difficult story in an interview with Clémence Michallon. Before we get too deep I recommend giving it a listen, here. In the interview, he spoke of a time when someone he loved was raped. As is often the case, his response was irrational and rage-filled.
The racial bias in his story is clear. The assailant was unknown to the victim. The only description he shared in the interview was that of a black male. The way he phrased it, he was willing to take it out on any “black *******” who gave him an excuse.
His response to the situation wasn’t healthy and heavily implied racial biases. Hearing the language he used, it’s easy to understand how someone would conclude he was being racist.
In direct response to the interview, some are calling for his career to be “Canceled.” Is that an appropriate response?
Is Liam Neeson Racist?
Neeson recalled a desire to hurt, or even kill. Not knowing who the rapist was or how to find him, Neeson’s rage had been directed at the nearest, convenient target. The words he used had an obvious racial slant. Does this mean he’s a racist today? Many who heard the interview clearly think so and are quite upset. It seems to me, those shaming him didn’t really listen, though.
He spoke of the time in the context of the past, as though re-living that moment. The words he used were clearly meant to convey how he felt at the time, which included a racist perspective. He had a limited description of the attacker and was clearly tainted by rage.
This does NOT excuse violent behavior!
It does mean we don’t have a clear answer to whether or not he’s racist. He expressed thoughts he was ashamed of from forty years ago that included a racist attitude. He was also very clear that these thoughts were awful. It’s clear from his response to the backlash he does not support racist views.
Take him at his word, or don't, he's not advocating for any racism and says he isn't racist.
That’s it. Anything more is speculation.
What Was Neeson Really Saying?
When someone we love is hurt, it’s a painful experience. The violation of rape is one of the worst experiences a human can endure. For some of us, watching a loved one go through those emotions is worse than experiencing it for ourselves. Add to that feeling powerless to do anything about it, even bring justice to the victim, and it’s normal to want revenge. The feelings he had are normal for humans.
Trying to cope with such a situation Neeson acted foolishly.
To quote Neeson; “I went up and down areas with a cosh hoping I’d be approached by somebody.”
I think it’s pretty clear what he was trying to do. Lacking a clear target to blame, he was trying to construct an enemy. His aim was to get out all of his rage, fear, and helplessness. He did this by waiting for someone to attack him and prove they deserved his wrath. All of this was in an effort to justify to himself why hurting someone he could bait into attacking him was okay.
THAT DOES NOT MAKE VIOLENCE OKAY.
It does mean his emotions were normal. Directing them at a random person who fits the only description he had of the offender is also normal. Again, this does not mean trying to get that revenge is okay. He, himself said as much.
In the same interview, he went on to say he was ashamed to even admit he once felt those feelings. Within a week, he went from actually seeking revenge, to realizing it was an unhealthy attitude. Many people never get over that kind of blind hate.
He also said, “But I did learn a lesson from it. When I finally thought ‘what the **** are you doing?’ You know?” Neeson further spoke about how it related to understanding the need for revenge. He was clear that it just leads to more killing.
Ultimately, he shared his own experience with an unhealthy mindset. As he did, he stressed that this mindset was not okay. He realized shortly after the incident he was making bad decisions and needed to change.
Irony Thy Name is “Social Justice Warrior”
In talking about realizing he was wrong, Liam Neeson has become the target of “Social Justice Warriors” looking to destroy his career. As my son put it, “admitting he is ‘woke’ incited the wrath of the SJW’s.”
Perhaps the greatest travesty in all this is what will come if his career is destroyed over this interview. SJW’s want to punish Liam Neeson for having negative thoughts decades ago.
We only have his word on this. If he hadn’t said anything, no one would know. He admitted openly he thought about committing a horrible crime. He also condemned those thoughts as he told the story.
What are we teaching people?
If this is how we treat someone who willingly shares he had racist thoughts once upon a time, no one else will admit their shame. When the prize for sharing a hard learned lesson is the loss of one’s livelihood, others will not willingly follow. Instead, for fear of being attacked, more of us will avoid sharing our wisdom with others. The hard-learned lessons of our lives will remain secrets.
We should be applauding his courage for sharing a difficult story about his own inadequacies. We should not shame him for admitting his faults and his triumph over them.
© 2019 kwade tweeling
kwade tweeling (author) from USA on February 21, 2019:
Well said! I love your thoughts on PTSD and both the need to address this problem as well as the fact that it doesn't excuse violence from the SJW groups either.
Lyrica Cranston on February 21, 2019:
Great post, Kwade! I agree that punishing him for having learned a difficult lesson, and sharing it so that others could learn from his mistake, is a very unhealthy response. He should be praised for what he learned. He should be applauded for stopping before it was too late. We could all learn a bit about empathy and wisdom by truly listening to his experience.
That being said, I can also understand why somebody who has not healed from their own emotional trauma would have a hard time hearing his remorse and an even harder time believing that he truly does see it as wrong. It is my opinion that a great many people in the "Social Justice Warrior" movement are experiencing PTSD and are in need of some serious therapy in order to find inner balance and acceptance over the injustices that they have experienced.
Just like with Neeson, their personal experience and understandable rage does not excuse violence or abusing somebody else who is not responsible. Once again, it only leads to more abuse.