Why I’m calling Liam Neeson racist

This morning I’ve been flitting around social media, trying to engage thoughtfully with people who I fervently disagree with on the topic of racism and Liam Neeson. It is taking my whole mind and day up, and I can’t imagine the pain it is causing to many black people who will be scrolling through their timelines seeing more white people take issue with the term “racist” being levelled at Neeson than with, you know, the actual racism. So I thought I’d put my thoughts here, invite the debate to me, and clarify a few things about what the ‘yes he is a racist’ camp might mean. I’m not a spokesperson, but I feel moved to speak, so here’s my two pence:

Let’s get something straight, Liam Neeson is not being brave or candid. He is ‘honesty’ doesn’t deserve a medal, or applause. His retelling of his disturbing, racist anecdote on live TV, accompanied by the words “I’m not racist” betrays at best a misunderstanding of what racism is and, at worst, a disregard for the trauma his recent revelations are causing black people to relive. His matter-of-fact plug for his revenge movie at the end of the ABC interview was crass and deeply insensitive. “I had this disturbing urge to kill any random black guy based on something one black guy did… but my film is good you should go and see it!”
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