The Carl Sandburg novel of Lincoln as acted by Hal Holbrook came to my attention after many years recently and I viewed it again. I was struck by how empathetic and sensitive to human nature Sandburg portrayed Lincoln.
Of course, we are all aware of Trump’s lax comments about people of color – except when he has tried to promote that some of them are actually for him and his policies.
Also, I listened very closely today to the recording of actor Liam Neeson, explaining how he had reacted years ago to the death of a young girl, a relative I believe, apparently by a Black man.
Neeson has been in the news, criticized forcefully, for having admitted that after the young girl’s murder, he had wanted to find and punish, even possibly kill, a Black man in revenge.
The impession I have received from the preceding is how dramatically different people are in attempting to express their views on the matter of race, as used to identify people of different skin color.
Spike Jones, the Black director, was interviewed about Neeson. He said, sensitively, look at this more closely. Others instead pinned Neeson against the wall, saying what a horrible person he is for expressing his thoughts about his past.
I find that the entire Neeson criticism embarrassingly expresses the lack of empathy by some people on the universally diverse, but still frequently very common, personality traits of people.
It is to me a striking example of how shallow our education systems and our cultural norms can be. Neeson appeared to me to actually be very brave admitting that he had felt prejudicial impulses toward Blacks.
My take was that by opening up and exposing his own past shallowness regarding Blacks, and the Irish culture source that prompted his shallowness, he was recognizing how poorly he had reacted. And how he had learned tolerance from his own past prejudices.
Instead of Americans and others seeing that Neeson was trying to atone for what had been an abruptly bad original reaction, and to explain how he has now seen a clearer way in his thinking, he has been vilified by his critics.
With 90% of all Americans claiming Christianity as their belief, why – I ask myself – do they not perceive that Neeson was striving through his own self criticism to make a broader point?
His point was that he, and all of us, whether we are white, black, brown, yellow, red, or some other shade, are all prejudiced to one degree or another. Why do they not forgive him his youthful indiscretion?
We all tend to huddle together with those who are like “Us” and tend to put down and fear and dislike people who are not like “Us.” Neeson’s self-criticism and attempted atonement through his personal admission, has been entirely misconstrued, I believe.
He was commenting on a basic trait that is universal to all humanity, and has, therefore, been made the target of “politically correct” people who, in my opinion, are self-aggrandizingly sanctimonious.
Each us can recognize the unfortunate universal prejudice all people still to a degree contain, quite simply by looking in the nearest mirror. We all, whether we believe in him as God or not, fall far short of the sensitivity suggested by the fellow who allegedly hung on a cross for us.