Liam Neeson Ripped for Racist Remarks

In an interview with The Independent published on Monday, actor Liam Neeson (Star Wars, Schindler’s List, Taken) raised eyebrows with comments relating to the rape of a friend ‘some time ago’

Actor Liam Neeson, as Oscar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s 1994 epic  Schindler’s List

Actor Liam Neeson, as Oscar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s 1994 epic Schindler’s List

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 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 back, 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.”

“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson said. “But my immediate reaction was…” There’s a pause. “I asked, did she know who it was? No. What color 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,” here Neeson gestures ‘air quotes’, “‘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?”

Neeson has 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 (how dare he be honest (obviously: Neeson is simply not entitled to an opinion on the mere 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.

As with most things, 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 (horrible, horrible) thing?

Neeson 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 and complexities, still 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,” Neeson said on Good Morning, America the day after the interview was published, “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.”

He ‘seek(ed) help’? He ‘caught (him)self’ and reevaluated what he was doing?? WHAT WAS HE THINKING?!?!

If only Oscar Schindler had had such wisdom…