musings, racism

Repost: Is Liam Neeson guilty of a “hate crime”?

Here’s a repost of an article I wrote for my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife. It originally appeared February 6, 2019. I’m sharing it again, because last night, I watched Liam Neeson’s Taken series– three movies worth– because Bill had to work very late. As I watched Liam’s character, Bryan Mills, kicking the crap out of bad guys in a very satisfying way, I was reminded of this post I wrote just before I had to shut down access to my old blog. I think it’s worth another look.

I believe that old song in Avenue Q.  I think everyone’s a little bit racist, even though some people believe that you can only be racist if you’re a member of the “dominant” racial group.  Actor Liam Neeson is a White man who recently confessed that after a friend was violently raped by a Black man, he prowled the streets with a club, looking for a Black man to beat up.  He said he was actually “hoping” to be approached by someone giving him an excuse to beat the shit out of them with a “cosh” (British word for club).

Neeson’s violent revenge fantasy occurred about forty years ago.  He never did beat anyone up. He was simply very angry about the violent crime committed against his friend and he wanted to avenge her.  He says he’s ashamed of how he reacted to the rape and sorry for having those violent impulses to hurt other people.

Liam Neeson talks about that controversy from 40 years ago. I think he should be commended for his honesty and integrity.

Naturally, the papers have been having a field day with the story.  Lots of people seem to think Mr. Neeson needs a good public flogging for something that happened 40 years ago.  I don’t condone Neeson’s violent impulses to hurt just anyone who happened to be Black.  However, I do feel like he should be commended for his honesty.  It’s not an easy thing to do, admitting those feelings publicly, as hateful and hurtful as they are.  It’s awful to hear about them, but it does get people thinking and talking.  Is that a bad thing? By the way, I HIGHLY recommend listening to Neeson speak in the above video. He makes a lot of sense.

Neeson eventually came to the conclusion that violence begets violence.  He found more constructive ways to deal with his rage, to include power walking for two hours a day.  He spoke to his friends and a priest.  He also said that if the man had not been Black, he still would have had those same feelings of primal rage and wanting to get revenge. In this case, it was apparently a Black man who perpetrated the crime against his friend.  It could have been anyone, though.  Also, consider that this happened in Northern Ireland forty years ago, during “The Troubles”.  It was a pretty violent time all around, particularly between English people and Irish people.  I’m sure that contributed to Neeson’s state of mind.

In my opinion, Liam Neeson’s situation isn’t really the same as Governor Ralph Northam’s situation in Virginia.  He’s under fire for having been in a racist photo 35 years ago.  Governor Northam is in a leadership position, though, and is a physician.  The photo was taken when he was in medical school.  And it had nothing to do with being justifiably angry.  That photo was about simple mockery of people not like him.  To my knowledge, it wasn’t prefaced by violent crime or anything that would cause a person to feel “passionate”.  It was just plain stupidity.

I can understand being so angry that one becomes blinded by rage.  I don’t condone acting on that rage. It turns out, Neeson never did. He never hurt or killed anyone in reaction to his friend’s rape.  Soon afterward, he was ashamed of himself and took active steps to mend his ways. Forty years later, people want to cancel him for simply admitting that he had these dark thoughts after a dear friend was raped.

Is it awful that Neeson had those violent and racially biased fantasies?  Yes, I believe it is, although I think having them is pretty “human”.  Is it awful that he publicly admits to having those fantasies?  I don’t think so.  Why punish the man for simply being honest?  At least he’s worked on his issues.  At least he acknowledges them.  Apparently, that incident from Neeson’s past has also been used as a tool in his movies, like Taken and Ransom.  That just goes to show that even the worst impulses can be used for something positive if we’re careful.

Another perspective from the other side of the pond. Quite interesting and refreshing.

I do think people should be able to live down the things they did in the past, particularly if they acknowledge them and show that they’ve tried to make amends. We are all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done or said or thought… or, at least I believe we should be. I think Neeson has taken steps to make amends for having those violent, racist impulses over forty years ago.  Northam, to my admittedly limited knowledge, has also apparently tried to change his ways.  He supposedly has a good reputation as a physician and as a governor, aside from this unfortunate relic from his past. 

Of course, now there’s been talk of a sexual assault claim against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who would be poised to take Northam’s place if he resigns.  Personally, I think the hullabaloo in Virginia is more about people upset about Northam’s comments on abortion and desperate folks wanting to get the Democrats out of office in Virginia.  The timing of this is just too funky.

As for Liam Neeson… I think people should stop and think before they pick up their torches and pitchforks.  Should we be more concerned about people who are honest about having racist feelings or those who hide them?  Truly, I think everyone has prejudices.  No one is immune to preconceived notions about other people.  I, for one, think Neeson was brave to share his story, knowing how public backlash can happen and what it can lead to.  It’s good to think and talk about these things.  But then, Liam Neeson is probably in a position where he can talk about these things and not fear losing everything.

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politicians, politics

And now I feel like Pam Ewing after the Dream Season on Dallas…

Pamela Ewing wakes up to a surreal surprise…

Well, we did it. Donald Trump has lost the election and will be moving out of the White House in a couple of months. I’m sure the next couple of months will be pretty crazy, but it’s so nice to see a light at the end of the Trump tunnel. As I was watching the news last night, and hearing the bells that pealed all over Europe (though not in my town), it dawned on me that I have not set foot in the United States since November 2014. And since I have no plans to visit the USA anytime soon, that means I have pretty much “missed” Trump’s presidency.

Oh… I don’t mean that I missed being affected by his leadership. It’s more that I’ve been watching it from afar, in a weird position of being an American thousands of miles away from my homeland as it became more bizarre and dangerous by the day. It saddens me somewhat that the race was so tight and so many Americans were fine with Trump’s hateful rhetoric. But I am delighted that Biden prevailed and that may mean a return to decency. I even sent Bill to buy the bubbly in the photo above when it became clear that Biden was going to win.

I remember in 2016, when Trump won. I felt sick to my stomach that morning. I tried to be brave about it… and I posted this video in my blog post for that day, because Trump reminded me so much of Ming the Merciless.

And I must say, Trump is really not unlike Ming the Merciless…
And now Flash Gordon has finally arrived to save the day.

I consoled myself with this song from Avenue Q, comforted by the idea that everything is only “For Now”… and realized that kvetching about the election was pointless, since there was nothing I could do about it.

So… if you’re unhappy about the results of the election, just remember that everything is only “for now”… That’s what I told myself in 2016.

Donald Trump is only for now… just like Joe Biden will be, once he’s installed in the White House.

Until Trump came along, I mostly didn’t care about politics. I paid little attention to them, even when I had a job tracking healthcare policy. If there is one thing Trump has done, it’s made people much less complacent about politics and politicians. More people got out and voted this year because of Trump. Some voted because they wanted him to go. Some voted because they wanted him to stay. What’s important is that people exercised their rights to choose.

I don’t usually feel elated when we get a new president, as I do today. In fact, don’t usually vote for either of the main candidates, unless the election is particularly important or I’m living in a swing state. This year, I decided I would vote Democrat because it was important to me that Trump left office. I think he’s been a terrible leader and a wretched example of Americans to the rest of the world. I’ve been horrified to watch the hatred and violence from afar.

This Golden Girls storyline worked in the 80s because kids could write to world leaders back then… Imagine a kid writing to Trump!

I kept thinking about how, when I was a child, Ronald Reagan was the president. Kids would write letters to him and he’d answer them. We all knew about his love for Jelly Bellies. He was a Republican, and some of his policies weren’t popular. But– I don’t remember him representing hate and divisiveness the way Trump has. I remember being in school, learning about Reagan and seeing him as someone I could look up to, even though I was a kid and knew nothing about politics.

10 year old Samantha Smith, now sadly deceased, famously wrote a letter to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, because she was so concerned about the prospect of nuclear war. She went to the USSR and made many friends there, doing so much to foster goodwill and friendship. I can’t see this scenario with Trump.

Samantha Smith spent two weeks in the former USSR, being shown that people in the Soviet Union aren’t that different than Americans are. Her visit in 1983 was groundbreaking, and she became a heroine to people all over the world. Sadly, Samantha died in a plane crash a couple of years after she visited the Soviet Union. I guess nowadays, we have Greta Thunberg… who very wittily trolled Trump by advising him to go see a movie with a friend as he melted down over the election results. Trump had advised her to do the same last December.

Seems kind of tone deaf to talk about the military while standing next to the Easter Bunny…

If I had a child, I wouldn’t encourage him or her to write to Trump. I can’t see Trump caring about answering a letter from a child, the way other presidents have. I remember him talking to children at Easter, remarking about how none of the children had a weight problem as he gave them candy. And the above clip shows him talking about the military and money while the Easter Bunny just stands there, mouth agape. It’s pretty surreal.

I can see Joe Biden enthusiastically answering letters from children. I can see his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, working to get education back on track and improve literacy in the United States. I can see Joe Biden engaging with people of all classes, races, and creeds, and actually caring about them. Will he be perfect? No one ever is… but he’s chosen a dynamic Vice President in Kamala Harris. I have great hope that things will get back to some semblance of normalcy… or at least basic decency. And I feel a lot better today than I did four years ago. The Trump nightmare is about to end at last! Or, at least, for now…

Well, it’s time for breakfast, so I’m off… Enjoy your Sunday!

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religion

Fat women don’t go to heaven?

Them’s fightin’ words in Brazil. A viral video recently surfaced showing a woman shoving a priest off a stage mid sermon because he’d allegedly said “fat women don’t go to heaven”. The incident took place in Sao Paolo before thousands of followers, who all shrieked as the priest went flying. He was reportedly unhurt and able to continue his sermon once he recovered.

The controversial statement cannot be heard in the video that was shared, but some followers have said the priest had made the comment before the heavyset woman suddenly sent him sprawling off his pedestal. Others have said the priest never made that comment and they don’t know what possessed the woman to run up on the stage and knock his block off. Friends of the woman have said she has “mental health issues”. Boy, I’ll say. Edited to add, Snopes has “weighed in” on this. Apparently, the man hadn’t said anything about fat women and Heaven. He didn’t press charges and is reportedly “okay”, aside from suffering a few aches and pains.

Dayum… she should play football! That was quite the sack!

To be honest, I found the clip hilarious on many levels. I had to watch it several times, because it was just so ridiculous and gave me a much needed laugh. I must confess, there are a few people I dream of doing this to myself. But, because I am a civilized person who isn’t typically violent, I would never actually consider doing this to anyone. I suppose this is what Germans would call Schadenfreude.

I’m pretty sure these folks are the ones we saw when we saw Avenue Q in England.
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