Admitting shame for your behavior does not excuse it.

In a recent interview, Liam Neeson admitted to wanting to “kill all black men” after hearing that a friend was sexually assaulted by one at a party. Although his protective instinct might be a nice response to the trauma of a friend, you can not ignore the blatant racism in his story, and in his actions.

The story was told during an interview promoting a new movie Neeson stars in, as a man avenging the death of his son. Neeson admitted that he knew what it felt like to want revenge, sharing the details of a time when he, upon hearing that a black man raped a woman he was close to, hung outside of pubs for a week with a weapon, hoping to run into a black man he could kill. Neeson stated he is ashamed at his actions, saying they were “horrible” and “awful.”

His actions are blatantly racist and Neeson does seem to acknowledge that. By generalizing all black men after the incident, he demonstrates a disturbing phenomenon of blaming all members of one race for the actions of a few (also commonly seen through the Muslim terrorist stereotype). His willingness to kill any black man is a horrific example of people not seeing individuals, but rather solely seeing race; rather than seek out the actual assaulter, he defined all black men by their skin colour.

Even more insidious is his nonchalant and humble attitude. Neeson has admitted to racist tendencies prior to this. In one interview, he stated that everybody racially profiles, even him. Neeson seems to have a tendency to openly admit to questionable behavior, but he seems to think that by admitting to it, it absolves him. By admitting that he is ashamed at his past actions where he openly tried to kill any black man that came at him, he seems to think it removes the blame.

To be clear, it certainly does not. Neeson is absolutely still at fault for the situation, and for his apparent tendency to racially profile. Admitting to racist thoughts or behaviours does not remove them. Hopefully in the future, Neeson goes further than simply admitting to racist mistakes years later.