Though not Jewish, Irish or Black
I nonetheless would refuse
To drink in a pub that proclaimed:
‘No Irish, no Blacks and no Jews.’
Everyone has the choice to make
Principled or expedient:
To comply with discrimination
Or civil disobedience.
The Yellow Star, ‘whites-only’ bar,
Countries where women are veiled
Detained ‘illegal aliens’
Julian Assange in jail —
Existed and exist because
(And with their passive assistance)
Those to whom they do not apply
Tolerate their existence.
At Nuremberg the judges declared
A principle of jurisprudence:
When enacting illegal laws
‘Obeying orders’ is no defence.
The deferral of our freedom
To a higher authority
Does not relieve us of our own
Three-quarters of a century on
We face the same situation
From three-hundred and twenty-five
But now the shop or pub that’s shut
To those banned by ‘health restrictions’
It’s not for nation, race or creed,
But political conviction.
The church that tells parishioners
‘Carols may be hummed but not sung’;
The college that volunteers students
For mass-screening of the young;
The school that tells parents to keep
Their healthy children quarantined;
The hospital that only treats
Patients with COVID-19;
The employer that forces staff
To choose between unemployment
And breathing through a plastic mask
While maintaining ‘social distance’;
The planes and trains and museums
That to their price of entry
Make vaccination a condition
And call it ‘voluntary’ —
All are painted with that white-washed star
By hands moving without sense
The Quick Response digital code
Now saluted at every entrance.
But willing or unwillingly
Compliance with Regulations
Is by default your given consent
To penalties and prosecutions:
The protester who’s arrested
For demanding right of assembly;
The policeman who kicks down your door
On suspicion you’re being friendly;
The nurse handcuffed for rescuing
Her own mother from a care home;
The family stopped from seeing
A loved one left to die alone.
Doctors banned from discussing
Oxford professors ridiculed
For explaining herd immunity;
Newspapers paying scientists
To denounce ‘conspiracies’
While faithfully quoting as fact
The fixed-penalty notices
To ruin all but the wealthy:
Fining the poor ten-thousand pounds
For the ‘crime’ of holding a party;
And six-thousand five-hundred pounds
For not wearing a face-covering
For which no trial shows a benefit
Except to normalise muzzling.
A public encouraged to snitch
On family, friends and neighbours;
COVID-marshals paid to inform
On people denounced as ‘murderers’;
Government thugs in uniform
The armed and armoured TSG
Assaulting the public to protect
Our ‘public health security’.
Advisors paid by Government
To terrorise the nation;
Investing in health regulation;
A Parliament licking the hand
Of a Government by decree;
Bringing the country to its knees.
A few drudges of providence
Who borrow all their qualities
From our own folly and wickedness
Which gave them birth and nursed them.
Dupes of this deep delusion
We dote with a mad idolatry
And who will not yield them worship
Are deemed enemies of their country.
Sixty-eight million people
In a legal state of exception
Living under house arrest
Justified through mass deception.
Where each new statute erases
Our rights and civil liberties
Under a sentence of ‘lockdown’
Renewed in perpetuity.
In this British oligarchy
The biosecurity state
A kingdom united in fear
The ‘New Normal’ agglomerate
On every screen can now be read
On every window, every door,
This statement of our servitude:
‘We’re sorry, but it’s the law.’
But citing law when the law is wrong
Through history to the present
Is the last resort of cowards
Obedient to any tyrant.
The choice is unavoidable
And it’s ours alone to speak:
Hail dictators or loud declare:
‘There is some shit we will not eat!’
— Simon Elmer
* The lines in the thirteenth stanza are taken from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, Fears in Solitude, written in 1798 ‘during the alarm of an invasion’, when Coleridge’s criticisms of the British Government led to his denunciation as a traitor.