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michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon

Prejudice and objectivity: when the blogs rule the game

Malta is a country where ‘objectivity’ is the end result of prejudice and bias

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon
1 November 2016, 8:25am
We have had one blog giving us the great news that Simon Busuttil went to have a haircut before he was due last Monday to deliver his speech in Parliament
We have had one blog giving us the great news that Simon Busuttil went to have a haircut before he was due last Monday to deliver his speech in Parliament
A well-known Maltese politician who is now no longer alive – having presumably moved to greener pastures – used to say that in order to understand Malta, one had first to make the basic assumption that the country is mad. From then on, everything fits in nicely following a logic that makes sense...

It is a country where ‘objectivity’ is the end result of prejudice and bias. Now if that is not a bizarre statement, I do not know what it is. But if you accept the mad notion, you should have no problem understanding the incomprehensible.

The situation has been exacerbated with the rise of social media and blogs inspired by prejudice, pretending to be objective and responding with righteous indignation when they are exposed for what they really are.

We have had one blog giving us the great news that Simon Busuttil went to have a haircut before he was due last Monday to deliver his speech in Parliament in reply to the budget speech. Now this news must have made it to the blog because some enterprising would-be investigative journalist (for which read silly busy body) happened to pass in front of the barber salon where Simon was availing himself of this very normal service.

But somehow, that mad streak in the Maltese DNA led to the idea that having a haircut before appearing on television for over two hours was a very funny notion. And – hey presto – a photo was taken and this made it to a blog as if it was the most important event of the day. Whoever took the photo must have thought he had made the scoop of the decade. He must have thought highly of his prowess at spying and that the rest of the world would find the photo so interesting that it was worth passing to the master of the anti-Simon prejudiced blog! What incredible fun! Can it get more ridiculous than this?

Incredibly it can! 

The blogger on the other side – the mistress of the anti-Joseph prejudiced blog – concluded that this photo of Simon at the barber’s was no news and deserved her contempt. If this country wasn’t mad, the story would have ended there, of course. But the ‘logical’ result of this mad notion was to put the story on her blog to show how ridiculous the other blog was, apparently without realising that putting it on her blog gave even more importance to the silliest story of the decade.

Now this blogger is quite famous for putting silly photos on her blog, some of them taken and passed on to her by her international network of spies – for which read silly people snooping on other people’s business... and sometimes harassing them just because of prejudice.

Topping up this ‘kawlata’ (how does one translate the idiomatic nuance of this Maltese term for vegetable soup with meat?) one should then find the comments of the faithful followers of the two blogs. It is a dish leading to a veritable indigestion.

If you are by now getting sick or have lost the trail of this momentous sequence of events – that in Malta is more important than what’s happening in Aleppo – I think you must be dense. By now it should be patently clear that in Malta:

– a politician having a haircut is astounding news. 

– the pot calling the kettle black is the norm.

– seeing the funny side of funny things is an abomination.

– black is black and white is white and no shades of grey can even think of existing.

As I was taught many moons ago, accept that this country is mad and everything falls logically into place!

I have even got used to the idea that every piece of writing of mine leads to surprising reactions. The opposing sides shower me with terms of endearment according to what I write. So a person would one week call me traitor (ġakbin) and the next week welcome me back to the fold – according to whether my piece is in consonance with his unwavering faith.

That’s the price I pay for trying to be objective. The price for trying to retain my sanity in an ocean of madness. 

Did I say ocean? It is just a small minute inconsequential puddle. There I go again... losing my perspective!

Lessons in democracy

After having supported right-wing dictatorships for decades, the US tried its hand at giving lessons in democracy.

The US, for example, invaded Iraq and got rid of Saddam Hussein, to instill the principles and the practice of democracy in the Middle East. The results were a shambles that led to Daesh (or, if you prefer, ISIS) an organisation that is the antithesis of democracy.

In short, the idea of the US giving lessons in democracy has turned into a nightmare.

Telling others how to do it seems absurd even more in the wake of the current Presidential election campaign, which is a mess with voters having to decide whom they dislike the least!

A recent leader in ‘The Economist’ pointed out that healthy democracies depend on unwritten rules and that the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has trampled all over them. Hacking the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman’s e-mail account revealed things that in other circumstances would have caused the candidate serious problems.

Trump has touted the idea that Muslims must be banned from entering the US, that it is all right to mock a reporter because of a disbaility and that as President, he would be in a position where he could send Hillary to jail!

In the US gerrymandering is the order of the day and using all sorts of legal and illegal tricks to suppress voters from going to vote have become the norm. Which means that they have thrown democracy to the dogs. 

Incredibly with all our warts and defects, I can only conclude that Malta does better.

By November 8, the US will be needing to learn the basics of democracy all over again. Perhaps they should be inspired by the founding fathers!

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon is a former government minister who served under several Nationalist admini...
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