Liam Neeson’s recent admission of his racist tirade that never was has been buzzing across social media recently. Unpopular opinions, jokes, think pieces, and of course, memes have all spawned from the situation. On the industry side of things, there have been several actors and celebrities who have voiced their opinions or voiced their support for Neeson as being a “decent man” However, from the story that Neeson recalled, it’s very hard to believe anything otherwise.
"I’m ashamed to say that, and I did it for maybe a week hoping some ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him."
These are not the words of a man who is not racist. To deliberately frequent Black neighborhoods in the hopes that a Black man would cross his path is the action of a racist man. Neeson’s admission of this primal urge that came over him is not a coming of age, “look how far I’ve come” story. This is not normal behavior, it cannot be chalked up to reversion to instinct. By classifying it as such Neeson is normalizing this behavior. His actions in going about this hate-filled crusade are nothing more than an example of ignorance meeting anger.
But the thing about this is, he’s not alone. Why Neeson is being berated and branded as a racist is simply because he chose to air out his demons. There are many, many more individuals like him among us that may not have the same exact experience, but a similar one. At the root of Neeson’s escapade lies a character trait that so many seem to be unable to step outside of, privilege.
Neeson’s actions in the weeks following his friend’s revelation that she had been raped are the total embodiment of a privileged individual and thus the reason why his admission is so terrifying. In the moments that he decided to go out with a cosh (what the hell is a cosh?) and seek out a Black bastard to kill, Neeson decided that the actions of one Black man decided the fate of all the others. To hold whatever Black man that crosses your path accountable for your friend's pain is the height of privilege and a declaration that my suffering matters more than anyone else’s.
This is the type of behavior and thought process that led thousands of Black people to be lynched for simply existing in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And in the time of 2019 where ignorance and privilege continue to flourish it seems as though history is repeating itself. Racial assaults continue to arise in plain sight, and blackface continues to seep through into political office as well as commercial products. All of this to say it should be clear to see that there are many more Liam Neeson’s out there.