Archive | February, 2019

Liam Neeson and a short cut to thinking.

9 Feb

The recent furore over actor Liam Neeson’s admission that he once had dangerous racist thoughts, and almost acted on them, has received a level of response that suggested that he actually did act on these feelings. This media reaction is worrying because it isn’t isolated; this kind of disproportionate response occurs regularly in this age of social media. I understand that many people would have been horrified by, what on the surface, seems another example of institutionalised racism. However, this is clearly the voluntary confession of a man expressing his regret at thoughts he had forty years ago, prompted by the theme of revenge being discussed in an interview, in relation to his new film.

We probably need to leave the man alone now. I could criticise the way Neeson broke this story, and his apparent ignorance of the effect it would have on others. It has probably changed the way some perceive him, which is unfortunate, but at least he has helped put a much needed debate front and centre.

Neeson confessed to something in his past he was ashamed of and made it clear it was wrong. We could argue that it was actually quite a bold, humble and enlightened thing to do and perhaps the bigger problem for Neeson was in the unexpected, ¬†matter of fact way he delivered it. Those who are calling “racist” haven’t paid much, if any attention to what the man said, but more to how the media have decided to frame it. You need to be better than that, because if you’re doing it for the Neeson story, you’re probably doing the same for other things as well. Angry, ill informed, over reactions are as damaging as the very racism some vocal quarters would say they are challenging.