I sent this poem to Borbidge in 2003 and he complained to Vice Chancellor Dennis, who wrote to him saying he would expect lecturers in social policy to have and express opinions on racism. He also wrote to me telling me to refrain from writing personal poems to politicians. I wrote back and thanked him for his defence of academic freedom.
Dear leader of the opposition
I see you’ve taken a position
promoting racism and division.
What message does that send
to the ignorant my friend?
Once started it is hard to end.
What is real and what is right?
I can see that you’re uptight
and you’re spoiling for a fight.
Can it be that you do not comprehend
the hate and bitterness you send
in the half truths that you blend?
Would you like to feel the kind caress
of truth and ease and happiness
and an ending of your distress?
Surely you did not go into politics
for dirty pool and sleazy tricks,
to mix with racists and mavericks.
You shall not turn an electoral tide
with unkind remarks or comments snide
or prejudice or peacock’s pride.
Preach to a racist heartland if you will
cry to the wilderness till your tongue is still
or whatever else is your cheap thrill:
but do you think encouraging violence
against people who are powerless
will do much to increase your prowess?
Deny we invaded this country if you must.
Deny our theft, murder and our lust
but if you do, then how can we trust
your reading of our history
your ignorance of their misery.
Your approach is so miserly.
Copyright © 2023 John Tomlinson