You may have heard that the Irish actor Liam Neeson has just created a great controversy and a wave of protests that are causing him much displeasure, and that have to do with his last movie “Cold Pursuit”, in which he plays the operator of a snowplow who takes revenge on the drug traffickers whom he blames for his son´s death. We imagine the plot –a man, an ordinary worker turned Superman, demolishes singlehandedly a whole cartel, Mexican for sure, given the circumstances and current situation on the southern border of the United States. Clearly, a pro-Trump production.
In an interview with The Independent (which is accompanied by the message that it contains strong language, some sexual content and some violence –you have been warned), granted a few days before the film’s premiere in the U.S. and Canada, Liam Neeson said (we cite BBC News, Entertainment & Arts, February 11, 2019):
I´ll tell you a story, this is true. I´m not going to use any names. I was away and I came back. And she told me she had been raped. But she handles the situation of the rape extraordinarily well. But my immediate reaction… I asked: Did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person. I´ve gone 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 black bastard would come out of a pub and have a go at me for something, you know, so that I could kill him.
It was horrible, horrible, when I think that I did that. And I´ve never said that to anybody, and I´m saying this to a journalist. God forbid. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought “what are you doing” you know. I come from a society, I come from Northern Ireland and I grew up in the Troubles. I knew a couple of guys who died on hunger strike and I had acquaintances who were very caught up in the Troubles. And I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, and more killing and more killing. Northern Ireland is proof of that. All this stuff that´s happening in the world, the violence, is proof of that. But that´s… primal need, I understand.
Confronted with such outright racist abuse, the heavens of the civilized world quaked with rage and the hell with fury. That same day, the red carpet was canceled for the premiere in New York, although the screening itself went ahead. Singer Lily Allen joined the chorus of disapproval on Tuesday by dedicating her track Fuck You to the actor while performing in Sydney: “Usually, I dedicate this next song to Donald Trump, but today I feel more disgusted by Liam Neeson, so this song is dedicated to him,” she told her fans.
The actor made an effort at self-defence: “I was trying to protect the honor… of defending my dear friend in this terribly medieval way,” he told the ABC program Good Morning America.
Ronn Torossian, a “crisis management mogul” with New York-based PR firm 5W Public Relations, believes Neeson can still “save his image” provided he gives further displays of contrition.”He needs to continue to apologize and say that he made a mistake, rather than try to defend his words or bring in more context,” he told the BBC. And a number of social media users are now demanding Neeson be cut out of the upcoming Men in Black International, in which he is due to appear alongside Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.
The U.S. director Spike Lee was among those who criticized the actor for his comments. He told the BBC he “did not know why he had done it.” “People have to understand history,” said the filmmaker on Andrew Marr’s show: “Who knows how many innocent black men have been killed, castrated, lynched or harmed, or spent time in jail, just because a white woman said that black man raped her.”
Exactly. You have to understand history and you have to understand it well, but in order to do so first you have to know it, and that is entirely impossible if we consider how the media and the educational system work in Spike Lee´s country –the United States of America.
A new CNN survey conducted by SSRS recently released revealed that 12 percent of U.S. citizens do not know who Mike Pence is. Almost half, fifty percent of the same population has never heard of Brexit according to the survey published on Bookmarks.tv and commented by Ciaran McGrath in Express. The same was mentioned by Michael Moore in one of the interviews with Good Morning America.
We wonder if Spike Lee has ever heard of the atrocities committed by Barry McCaffrey, commander of the U.S. Army’s 24th Infantry Division during the Iraq war, such as machine-gunning 350 unarmed Iraqi prisoners. Or if he has ever heard of the bombing of the al-Amiriya bunker in Baghdad in February 1991, which incinerated 408 people, mostly women and children. That was not an error. As in Vietnam, as in Serbia and Kosovo, as daily in Palestine, civilians were not, are not, killed by mistake, but attacked on purpose. We also wonder if he has ever heard of three American brigades from the First Mechanized Infantry Division which used tank-mounted snowplows and combat soil removers to bury Iraqi soldiers alive, many of them injured, in more than 100 km of trenches . A brigade commander, Colonel Anthony Moreno, said: “As far as I know, we could have killed thousands.” Not the kind of history taught in schools and universities, right? Obviously, not the kind of history shown in the news or talked about in talk shows. And that, actually, is the problem. So we totally agree that people have to understand history, providing they know it.
We do not recommend Liam Neeson to follow the advice of the crisis management mogul based in New York. Has the U.S. government ever apologised for the atrocities committed against slaves? Has the British government ever apologised for its horrifying past in Australia and India (among many other places)? Have the Belgians apologised for the crimes committed against blacks in the Congo, then called “Belgian”? Even the British were horrified. Has the Dutch government asked for forgiveness, on its knees, for the apartheid in South Africa? No government has apologised for any of their wrongdoing, rather all try to push history under the carpet. Even today the Chinese are spoken of as “yellow skins” or “Chinks” and the Japanese got whacked in such a terrible way that they would give anything not to have slanted eyes.
It is clear that Neeson did not kill anyone. As he says, he had this intention, but the law does not judge intentions. However, the countries of which all the enraged by the “racism” of the actor are citizens did kill millions of human beings, and not in prehistory, but now, a few months ago, in recent years, yesterday… and continue to do so. Is not their racism much more dangerous and shameful than mentioning a “black bastard” under very special circumstances or in a state of transitory mental disorder? The countries we are talking about have invaded and destroyed the Middle East, once again, almost completely. They have killed millions of civilians. They have caused a crisis that the crisis management mogul Ronn Torossian of the New York-based 5W Public Relations company has probably never heard about and would have no idea how to handle if he did hear about it. This massacre which is called crisis has resulted in millions of people displaced, drowned, shot to death or blown up to pieces. It is a racism equal to the one Spike Lee is talking about.
The white man is racist and has always been racist, and this truth must be confronted and analysed without hypocrisy…
The white man is racist and has always been racist, and this truth must be confronted and analysed without hypocrisy; and the most racist of them all is the white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant man and, therefore, to demand an apology for being a racist from a Brit of Irish origin is an incongruity and a sample of western cynicism. The white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant man is racist even with the whites who fail to comply with one of the other two conditions. Suffice it to mention the treatment received by the Irish (of all people) in the United States; until today they are considered second class citizens. Suffice it to mention the treatment suffered by the Native Americans, unjustly called “red skins”, and now practically extinct. Suffice it to mention the fate of the native population of Australia. Should not Spike Lee advocate for that history to be taught in his country as well?
There is another aspect in this story that Neeson, in fact, mentions, namely revenge, “the primal need,” as he calls it. He is right. Again, let’s not be hypocrites. The need to take revenge is an integral part of human condition, there is no point in saying that it is something “medieval”. It is the only justice that man accepts as payment for the evil he has suffered and the only one that can restore his tranquility. Many would gladly eliminate this aspect of our character with impossible demands, such as offering the other cheek, for example. However, no one spoke of the other cheek when the twin towers of New York were collapsing. In response, several wars were started in which millions of human beings died, and which have caused destruction never seen since the Second World War.
He Who created and formed us, and therefore He Who really knows us, our Creator, is the only One who can legislate and tell us how to do justice. No law made by man works against injustice. That is why rapists and even murderers enter prisons (if they do) and get out; and nobody knows if the death penalty is dissuasive or not. There are countries where it exists and others that have eliminated it after having hanged or guillotined many men and women, now it can be said –illegally. Hence, the many attempts at taking justice in our own hands. However, and by virtue of the absolute knowledge of our Creator, we have the possibility to modify this “revenge”, if the victim or his family so decides. This possibility, like that of forgiveness, also brings satisfaction because we have chosen it freely, and forgiveness granted in this way reassures and comforts the heart.
(178) Believers! The law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder –the free for the free, the slave for the slave and the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand and compensate him with handsome gratitude. This is a concession for you and a mercy from your Lord. Whoever exceeds these limits shall deserve a painful chastisement. (179) O men of understanding! Know that the law of equality protects life and makes you restrain yourselves.
Qur-an 2 – al Baqarah
(194) For all things prohibited there is the law of equality. If any transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress likewise against him. Take Allah’s warnings seriously, and know that Allah is with the fearful.
Qur-an 2 – al Baqarah
(33) Nor take life which Allah has prohibited to take, except for the just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully we grant his heirs authority to seek compensation for the crime, but let him not transgress the limits because the matter is bound by the law.
Qur-an 17– al Isr-a