17 February 2019
Four years ago, a British teenager, Shamima Begum, went to join Daesh in Syria when she was 15. She married and, having lost two children already, escaped to a refugee camp in Syria and now wants to come back to Britain to increase the chances of survival of her newborn third child. She appears to have been subject to very sophisticated and effective conditioning and shows no remorse or regret; she has also said she wasn’t fazed by finding a severed head in a bin. If you’re not Salome and still just a teenager and this doesn’t faze you – it would totally freak me out – you’ve been severely damaged. She’s still British so surely she has every right to come back and we should do what we can to help her straighten herself out again?
She accepts she may face terrorism charges and could get locked up for a long time but she’s still just a severely damaged teenager. For those more motivated by ‘profit’ than humanity, she might even have information about Daesh that MI6 and the military might find interesting; they could also learn more about her initial grooming and subsequent brainwashing techniques that might help us understand why she decided to go in the first place and help us stop others going the same way. Why are people even questioning this? Where are we at as a society?
Britain has changed. There was a time when signing a legally-binding contract involved a 2-way commitment and nobody would have thought of asking for radical one-way concessions even once (pretty please), let alone twice (oh, come on, pleeeese). The EU’s eminently reasonable response is “what part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” Come back Sir Humphrey, we need you now the Brekshit leaders have finally lost it and are trying to blackmail their own side by making repeated fruitless journeys to Brussels until the only choice is May’s unacceptable deal or no deal. Aaaarrrrggghhh! Interestingly, senior civil servants are now apparently ensuring that all stupid decisions, not just Theresa May’s and Chris Grayling’s, are recorded and signed off personally by the Minister concerned so blame can be accurately allocated in future history books.
History will also record that Trump really does know about fake news. According to its own website, Trump Tower rises 68 stories (this really is the American spelling) above New York’s 5th Avenue. Guess how many floors it has. Wrong. It has 58 floors – see other, more independent websites.
I heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for the first time this week. She’s just been elected to represent New York’s 14th District and, at 29, is the youngest women ever to serve in the US Congress. And, best of all, she has a nifty way of using Twitter. After being called out for failing to respond to an offer of $10,000 from a right wing Republican Twitterer (Tweeter?) to have a debate with him, she finally said “Just like catcalling, I don’t owe a response to unsolicited requests from men with bad intentions”. That’s my kind of person. Put your money on her as a possible future president.
Further south, it was the first anniversary of last year’s mass murder at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida. One of the survivors, Anthony Borges, has spoken for the first time of how he was shot in the leg and crawled into a classroom where he sat with his back against the door to stop the killer getting in, saving the lives of the 20 other students in the room. The gunman shot through the door hitting Borges four more times in the legs and back. He was in hospital for two months, had 13 operations and is still recovering. He still has nightmares about it and can’t sleep properly but his ambition is to play football again.
If he’d tried to enter America from Mexico (which he didn’t), Trump would have rejected him because he was obviously a terrorist intent on destroying America and then claimed this justified his desire for a wall. And another 20 Americans could have been shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas school. Heroism is colour-blind (except, on the evidence gathered from the only specimen found so far, orange).