Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Weighed in the Balance

I am expected to hate you, Shamima,
though in truth, I don’t.
Only four letters
but it’s a big word:
Keyboard warriors shout it in capital letters,
tapping out one-fingered rants of detestation,
sticking it to the populist dissidents
who dare to rebel against the social-media throng.
Self-opinionated, seething condemnation,
spewed with passion that threatens and warns:
there is no room for disagreement here.

It’s all her own fault, of course.
She made her bed now she can lie in it.
She knew what she was doing.
Age is no excuse
(because 15 year-old girls always make sensible decisions!).
She’s a terrorist without remorse.
She’s a danger,
she’s evil
she deserves everything she gets.
Her brown eyes and brown skin betray her:
she’s a Muslim,
never really British (only like it or not, she was!).

She was legally a child,
radicalised, incited to hatred
must we match hate for hate?
She cradles a new-born in her arms
(the sins of the mother are borne in the son?).
She’s a politicians distraction from Brexit obsession.
Whatever happened to due-process?
To fair, balanced, judgements?
Do we no longer listen to testimony,
weigh evidence in the scales of Lady Justice
then pronounce sentence,
match punishment to the crime?

Maybe it is us that is on trial now,
our standards,
our values,
our British-ness, even,
hanging in the balance?
We don’t judge and convict in the pages of the Daily Mail
(except, sometimes we do!)
Rehabilitation, redemption, compassion,
truth, justice . . . hate.
What weigh will the scales tip?
Perhaps we have more to lose than to gain
in this game of blame and shame?

© Gifford Savage

Shamima Begum citizenship decision sets a dangerous precedent

Gifford is from BangorNorthern Ireland, has had work published with Lagan Online, was short-listed for the Bangor Poetry Competition 2018 and has read at events throughout Northern Ireland.