No hate

Hate in response to hate: dangerous and dumb

I’ve seen on social media some unthinking and hate-fuelled responses to the news that Shamima Begum wants to return to the UK. We don’t live in a country where kids who do stupid, dangerous and offensive things are later strung up as adults. Children do commit acts of murder and rape but efforts are made to rehabilitate through civilised behaviour enshrined in the justice system toward those recognised as not of the legal age of responsibility at the time they did whatever they did.

It is disturbing that people are intolerant of anyone standing against the idea that Begum be left to suffer and die in Syria. Don’t they realise a hate response is giving ISIS a victory over British values? That their responses are fundamentalist? We can and should be better than those belief systems we say offend and outrage us. 

This young woman believed and still believes in a hate-fuelled religious terrorist organisation that has committed terrorist outrages and war crimes. However, there is no evidence or suggestion she has herself committed murder or assault. Hers are thought crimes. She was groomed at the age of 15 by adults. She remains British. While no one should be put at risk of being killed to bring her back, and she must find her own way out of Syria, it is right to then have her brought back for questioning, evaluation and re-education. She was a British child led down the wrong path. She wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. Some will be brown. Some will be white. The crimes will be many and varied. Such is reality.

Begum would be monitored for the rest of her life and would be a lightning rod for the words and deeds of our own extremists advocating hate and violent, divisive creeds, who get to march on our streets and appear on our media. The likes of Tommy Robinson are adults promoting antisemitism and Islamophobia. He wasn’t groomed as as child into his sick and murderous belief system. Is he the recipient of calls for blood and retribution like this young woman? No, yet he and the neo-Nazi filth he leads are responsible for fake news and his followers commit actual crimes. Jewish cemeteries are vandalised. Violence is committed.

I ask those spitting about this woman, where is your anger over what actually happens in Britain? When was the last time you spoke out about these things I mention above? Are you consistent in who you target with your ire? I doubt it very much. This woman is a gift to those writing agitating hateful headlines wanting to stir up trouble. We should resist those calls to hate in response to hateful beliefs and instead use our minds to think rather than join in a mob mentality that itself promotes hateful beliefs. We can all be better than that. Much better.

Two of Begum’s children have died and there are people revelling in this while deluding themselves that they are morally superior to her. She deserved to be punished by God with the death of her children, I’ve read. What an ISIS-like response of pure hate.

I am not cattle and will not fall into line with a crowd that is wrong. People did that in Nazi Germany. Read some history to learn what happens when hate is legitimised. We might not like being just and civilised sometimes, because it has us doing things hard to stomach – but if you think barbarism in words and deeds is an appropriate reaction here, you’re being led by the nose like a donkey just like a 15-year-old girl was. 

An eye for an eye does lead to blindness and becoming the enemy in how we judge, speak and act is wrong. It is stupid and it can only lead to more violence. Be better. Show the likes of ISIS how different we are from them and their poison – not how similar we can be. To be clear: I don’t think Begum is likeable, I don’t think she is right, I think she has done wrong but I also despise violence and oppression. I’ve been on the receiving end of both. I will not become that which horrifies me. The fact that we have a Tory government willing to pander to racists and other extremists is appalling. They’ll do anything to hold onto power – including turning their back on British values.

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