Liam Neeson Ripped for Racist Remarks

In an interview with The Independent published on Monday, actor Liam Neeson raised eyebrows with comments relating to a rape of a friend ‘some time ago’

Actor Liam Neeson has starred in such hits as Schindler’s List, Taken, Star Wars (pictured here, as Qui-Gon Jinn), and the upcoming Men in Black: International

Actor Liam Neeson has starred in such hits as Schindler’s List, Taken, Star Wars (pictured here, as Qui-Gon Jinn), and the upcoming Men in Black: International

2/7/19, 5:55 pm EST

By John Corry, photo from Nerdist and 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm

Actor Liam Neeson has gotten himself into some hot water after comments he made to the Independent have gone viral. In the interview, Neeson describes how an old friend was raped while he was overseas some years ago, and how he wandered the streets for a week ‘hoping some ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something.’

Here’s the full interaction (or the controversial part), courtesy of the The Independent:

“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson says. “But my immediate reaction was…” There’s a pause. “I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could,” another pause, “kill him.”

He goes on to say: “It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” and “it’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the fuck are you doing,’ you know?”

On que, mainstream and social media pundits have been quick to condemn Neeson. He’s since been forced to cancel a few Late Night appearances, and the hate on him has been swift and detailed: The Irish Times contemplated simply ‘canceling Liam Neeson’, as he’s ‘brought this on himself’, The Independent called Neeson a pawn for the patriarchy for having the audacity to have a personal reaction to such an event, and then to actually detail that reaction in public (obviously: Neeson is simply not entitled to an opinion on the matter of rape), and anyone accused of defending Neeson’s comments, such as Whoopi Goldberg and Michelle Rodriguez, has seen swift and defiant backlash of their own.

Which all of course makes sense. What Neeson described was horrible and disgusting and people have every justification to find his comments offensive. And they should.

However, as with everything, intention does matter here: was Neeson saying what he was saying to try to get people to sympathize with his feelings, and in so doing subscribe to the racist ideology behind them? Or was he simply describing his experiences? And if the latter, why would he want to do such a thing?

The answer is simple: racism is complicated.

As are people (dumbasses), as we all have the capacity for evil (and especially from where we don’t see it coming).

That’s not controversial; in fact it’s a huge part of what has made civilization so much better now as opposed to pretty any other point in history, and that’s all the Jedi master was pointing out there. He admitted in the interview, as well as afterwards, how terrible his thinking was then, but his point was that it happened, that he had to deal with it, and that it was, however unfortunate, a natural reaction. We’re never going to ‘get rid of racism’ if we can’t even attempt to figure out what it really is (which is, for all its faults, human), and whether or not it’s any more or less complicated than finger pointing– or even just not synonymous.

“There were some nights I went out deliberately into black areas looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence. And I did it maybe four or five times until it caught myself on and it really shocked me. It shocked me and it hurt me. I did seek help,” Neeson said on Good Morning, America the day after the interview was published.

He ‘seeked help’? He ‘caught himself’ and reevaluated what he was doing? WHAT WAS HE THINKING?!?!

If only Qui-Gon Jinn had had such wisdom…