Making Excuses

Pádraic Mac Coitir shares his thoughts on the Liam Neeson controversy.

I think Liam Neeson is a wooden actor and I'm not here criticising his acting or many of the terrible films he's starred in.

As we have seen in recent days he's either being defended or criticised for the racist remark he made when he said he went out looking to kill a 'black bastard' because one of his friends was raped. Yes, it happened forty years ago but that doesn't excuse what he intended to do.

I can fully understand his anger when he was told of the rape but if he said he went out to kill the 'bastard' who carried out the rape then that is a completely different thing. For too long there have been thousands of blacks in the US killed because of many white people having the attitude Neeson had.

When interviewed on a TV programme he said he grew up in the North of Ireland where there were many revenge attacks based on sectarianism. That is to simplify the issue and in my opinion it's only making an excuse for something that he probably knows was wrong.

As he also said he isn't stupid so why did he say this 40 years later? Racism is wrong whether in the US or in this putrid little sectarian statelet.

Padraic Mac Coitir is a former republican prisoner and current political activist.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

18 comments to ''Making Excuses "

  1. Pádraic is absolutely right, growing up in the North of Ireland is no excuse for the blind rage and racism Neeson confessed. In truth he should have known better and should have kept his big trap shut. Anger is natural, but walking around with a cosh to kill a completely innocent person just because he's the same race as someone who committed a heinous crime is absolute insanity and stupidity. A black guy punched me in the face at a Beastie Boys show in the 80s. Black guys hassled me for money outside Central High School in Louisville where Muhammad Ali was once a student. Granted, there was no rape involved. But revenge never crossed my mind. Neeson likes to think of himself as a tough guy. We all know who the real tough guys of the North are or were. Shane Todd, a young fella from County Down, put it well, "He might be the only movie star from here on the world stage, . . oh Dornan as well, but it's like saying with Neeson it's like saying your granda's done something mental in the shoppes, you know like your granda's taken his dick out at the chemist's . . he is old, but he shouldn't do that."

  2. Michael - I think you are magnifying it beyond its real importance. Had he kept his trap shut we would never have known about the incident. People should be encouraged to relate their experiences and not tailor them for PC World. He was wrong in what he did and no one is seeking to defend his actions. The important thing is that he is not defending hose actions today. I remember during riots in the North, the crowd used to pick on the black soldier. I remember on one occasion one white Brit said to us could we not just call his mate a British bastard rather than a black one. Jimmy Quigley, if I remember it rightly, was shot dead by a black soldier who was himself dropped by an IRA sniper as soon as he had killed Jimmy. The abuse heaped on him for a long time after it in casual conversation can only be described as racist.

  3. In the end it's a tale of how we often have no place to go with our anger. Neeson was distraught and needed a focus for his rage. He found one for a time. It's odd that so many years after the fact he felt compelled to share his reaction. But things do rattle around in us for years and years, only to surface at the strangest, most unpredictable times.

  4. Extract from Vox..

    “It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” Neeson said to Michallon. “And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid. It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f--k are you doing,’ you know?”

    Neeson followed up his Independent interview by going on Good Morning America on Tuesday for an interview with Robin Roberts. Asked about his comments, he repeated the story, adding that he came to his senses after going power-walking and talking with friends and a priest.

    “There were some nights I went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence,” Neeson said. “[My response] shocked me and it hurt me. I did seek help. I went to a priest, I aired my confession, I was reared a Catholic. I had two very, very good friends that I talked to. And believe it or not, power-walking helped me. Two hours every day, to get rid of this. I’m not racist. This was nearly 40 years ago.”

    40 years ago he reacted with anger at his friend being RAPED. Anger is an emotional response and one that too often clouds judgement. But even then, Neeson caught himself on. You social PC warriors make me sick with wanting to offended by everything and ashamed of nothing.

    If my friend was RAPED i'd have shot the cunt that did it, and somehow I think I wouldn't have been the only one.

  5. Mike - it is not that I fail to understand the furore but that I understand it in a different way. I think much of it is contrived virtue signalling. The above article by Padraic is fine because it seeks to discuss the issue in a rational manner but much commentary is being exhaled with the amplified force of PC bellows. I think that sort of hyped up reaction or "virtue signalling" as they tend to call it (not a term I am endeared to) is partly about showing I am a louder and therefore better anti-racist than you (never mind the old proverb about noise and empty vessels). My major apprehension is that the noise will spook people into embellishing their accounts of the past to accommodate a PC present. Ultimately, we learn less about the past.

  6. If we are to avoid emotional hi-jacks, who among us would not benefit from greater self-regulation and greater self-restraint? And if Mr Neeson needs poke about in his emotional vomit he might well be advised do it in a less public domain.

    "A wise old owl lived high in an oak,
    The more he saw, the less he spoke
    The less he spoke, the more he heard,
    Now, wasn't he a wise old bird?

    [Soldier.... be like that old bird!]"

    1. Henry Joy - the prescriptive probably merits more constraint than the descriptive. Neeson describing what he did is much better not subject to constraint than Neeson prescribing as a proper course of action what he did. Self interest might urge constraint but he is an adult and does not need someone else to look out for his self interest. Societal interest is best served by no constraint on the matter.

    2. AM - considering your response and having listened to a recording of Neeson's interview I now am of an opinion that societal interest may in time, be well-served by his disclosures.

      It does on listening, seem that the person raped was someone particularly close to him at that point in time and also he may in all likelihood still be carrying some significant vicarious trauma relating to those distressing events.

      All of that would make, at least for me, his unrestrained disclosures all the more understandable.

    3. Henry Joy - my main concern in this wider debate is how it impacts on knowing what happened. People who advocate not bringing this out could as easily apply it to SS Guards in death camps - don't tell us what you really did in case it is traumatic to some Holocaust survivors. Sanitise it or don't tell us at all in case you offend our modern contrived sensibilities. Our acquisition of knowledge is in part predicated on being told by those who already know.
      I am not yet lobotomised enough to want to go up to PC Wank and ask for a new laptop that will automatically type for me and provide all the answers that will enable me to survive in a PC World. It saves you time to watch soaps and soccer buy relieving you of the burden of having to think. Somehow, I think you will not be in that queue either.

    4. AM - your points are well made. And yes I'll still opt for the bottle in front of me, as opposed to the frontal lobotomy.

      Maybe deeply ingrained patterns of 'Omerta' colour my stance too much on these issues ... the 11th and 12th commandments still reigning supreme.

  7. AM

    There's no question that a heap of white people will use the Neeson controversy to "virtue signal" - to coin a term we both dislike. I know for a fact that all Americans have either uttered racial epithets or had them run through their minds in times of anger and high emotion. I stand accused. It's inescapable. We live in a racially charged society, and our legacy of slavery will never, ever let us rest. The lily white angel blessed with color blindness is a fantasy and laughably removed from American reality. You're right to suggest that PC makes us circumspect when discussing race issues, and we Americans have been trained in many ways to tread lightly. It's different in Ireland for understandable reasons: history and demographics.

    Malcolm X recognized that the "virtue signaling" white liberal could be even more dangerous than the openly hostile hard hat conservative. Here's what Malcolm had to say, "The fox acts friendly toward the lamb, and usually the fox is the one who ends up with the lamb chop on his plate. The wolf doesn't act friendly, and therefore the wolf has more difficulty getting the lamb chop on his plate. I say that because it is usually, if you study the structure of the negro community, economically, politically, civically, psychologically and otherwise, it's controlled by the white liberal, who usually poses as the friend of the negro, who actually differs from the white conservative in the same way that the fox differs from the wolf. Their appetite is the same. Their motives are the same. It's only their mannerisms and methods that differ."

    Many of these white liberals are motivated by white guilt, a guilt those of us who grew up on the poverty line in mixed communities in the South and the Midwest do not have. The white liberal, often a rich white liberal, the fox of Malcolm's analogy, is quick to demand praise and the pat on the back. They regularly invite those of us with less privilege to join in their sensitivity training. Sometimes they compel us to do so as part of our employment contract. Malcolm laid it down, and nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed in this country. The same dynamics are in play.

    On further reflection, it seems Neeson grappled with his rage and became uncomfortable to the point of seeking counsel. Fair play to him. Back in the 80s after the Beastie Boys show I had an internal conversation while staring in the mirror at my impressive black eye. The night before, just as the show began, a group of young black guys grabbed me from behind right after I was hit. I thought they were going to hold me up to get punched again. Nope. They wheeled on me and protected me, telling the jacked up dude to cool it. Meanwhile the Beasties stopped in the middle of "Slow and Low" until the ruckus had ended.

    1. Michael - for all lf that I much prefer white liberals to white illiberals. Was Malcolm X maybe not trying to sustain the race divide for political advantage? The error of not seeing differentiation in what is opposed has proven disastrous in the past. The inability of the Communists to see a difference between social democrats and fascists is what ultimately put Hitler in power.

    2. AM

      I think Malcolm distrusted all white people but was particularly wary of white liberals, especially those who tried to attain leadership positions in black civil rights organizations or labor movements. In that same television interview quoted above Malcolm smirks when the interviewer mentions a white guy who led blacks in labor agitation. Malcolm didn't want foxy help. Within the Nation of Islam, he certainly did get political advantage by promoting a race divide. He towed the party line of Elijah Muhammad, one that for a time he too believed, and promoted separation of blacks from whites, a separation he saw as a necessary step to building economic strength free of white exploitation. This is a theme that even the story of NWA and the film Straight Outta Compton returns to: the white man (in this case a Jewish music promoter -- not uncommon in the history of American music) exploiting the black man for economic gain. Yes, Malcolm did not differentiate groups of white people in his years immediately after prison. His autobiography describes a shift around the time he went on The Hajj in Mecca. Just as his radars were becoming more attuned and he felt compelled to attack his leader's ethics and hypocrisy, Malcolm got whacked. To my mind, his assassination was a terrible tragedy. His strength, candor, and growing willingness to recalibrate his political stance made Malcolm a truly great American. Inability to recognize subtle and not so subtle political shades has definitely proven disastrous, as have splits. Despite the silliness of counterfactual history, I often wonder what would have happened had the IRA not split, had the Provos and Sticks not gone after each other with such venom.

    3. Mike - myself and the Dark were in London's Hyde Park one day in the 90s the Nation of Islam were on a soapbox rant. He thought they were fascists. My instinctive distrust of revolutionaries would make me cautious of him

    4. AM - The Nation of Islam is most definitely fascistic, preaching as it does black supremacy and female submission. Malcolm split from the organization shortly before his death. He remained a Muslim but separated himself from the Nation of Islam. Elijah Muhammad slept with teenagers. He was full of shit. Mackers, have you read The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley? Seems like something you would have consumed in a day in the H-Blocks. You and The Dark in Hyde Park. Now that's a beautiful image.

    5. Michael - I have often seen the book; think it might even be here amongst the thousands of others yet to be read!! Yeah, Brendan and myself were over campaigning on behalf of hunger strikers in Turkish prisons. We had to do Hyde Park on a Sunday! The back story is that Brendan was late for the ferry. A former prison officer was driving the van that took passengers from the terminal to the boat. He and I were chatting and I explained that Brendan was due in a taxi but would be late. He told me not to worry that he would get him to it if he arrived after the gate was closed. And he did.

    6. Great tale of two Irishmen off to the London lung. The Dark at the death in his inimitable way. All the best to you and yours, Mackers.

  8. Apparently he rang Mel Gibson for advice!!!!!!


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