Political napalm

For the past decade, this war of attrition has been waged against anyone whom the PN’s inner sanctum was at odds with

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan
28 August 2017, 7:30am
Napalm derives its name from the two chemicals that constitute it, naphthenic and palmitic acids
Napalm derives its name from the two chemicals that constitute it, naphthenic and palmitic acids
Napalm derives its name from the two chemicals that constitute it, naphthenic and palmitic acids. It is a flammable liquid, a mixture of a gelling agent and either petrol or a similar fuel. The gel sticks to whatever it hits, and if that is your skin, you burn alive. Napalm was developed in 1942 at Harvard University and was used widely by the US in incendiary attacks on Japanese cities in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. As in all wars there were the good guys and the bad ones. The US used napalm indiscriminately, they were considered to be the good guys.

Now if ever there was a case of napalm being used in Malta it had to be last Thursday. Four aspiring PN leadership candidates combined their efforts and openly and with little hesitation condemned the actions and words of the one and only bile queen.

All of the candidates puked over the blogger from Bidnija and I said to myself, wow, what? Barely three months ago, Caruana Galizia’s blogs were dictacting PN strategy and advice to Simon Busuttil. She was revered most especially by Simon Busuttil and Beppe Fenech Adami, even in parliament. Mario de Marco would have liked to erase her from the face of the earth, but he did not have the self-respect to stand up and be counted. 

They, and others like Jason Azzopardi, therefore chose to ally themselves to her without asking themselves what the long-term implications were. As it turned out, the newspaper that propped up her platform, is now led by Pierre Portelli, who enthusiastically flies the flag for Adrian Delia.

He not only flew her drapeau, but believed every word she said about the as-yet-unsolved Egrant affair. As a willing janissary he turned the Malta Independent into an English-version of In-Nazzjon, hoping of course that Labour’s demise – fast-forwarded by the Egrant allegations – would crown his efforts, as he eyed the position of secretary-general of the PN.

Egrant brought out a rabid class of commentariat, from elitist academics to the sycophants of the upper middle-class, who spewed the odium as if their campaign was being led by St Joan of Arc. Facebook was turned into a mudbath of accusations, with anyone not willing to toe the Egrant line of suspicion, a weakling who did not dare ‘to believe’.

Through spin, hate, and animosity for anyone who was not a Nationalist, it looks like Caruana Galizia’s work at the service of the PN simply drove the party into a cul de sac. From what we saw in the PN leadership debates, she is once again (remember this is all déjà-vu if you read the 2013 electoral loss report) being held up as a liability for the PN.

Adrian Delia, who is first a businessman and then a lawyer, has already filed two libel suits. It is quite incredible that only three months ago, the PN was taking to task anyone who sued Caruana Galizia as agents working against democracy.

In her eagerness to stop Adrian Delia’s popular run for PN leader – who alongside Frank Portelli is surely the most unsuitable candidate for leader – she has used the same tactic she applied with Joseph Muscat and his associates. In taking out critics of the party or those out of favour with long-time friend Richard Cachia Caruana, it was with a serving of napalm that she would hit out at everyone and everything in the way.

This tactic has been employed for ages now. For the past decade, this war of attrition has been waged against anyone whom the PN’s inner sanctum was at odds with. In the process, people, their families, and innocent bystanders to these political machinations were hurt by the use of poison-pen blogs and gossip. None of the PN’s leaders has ever dared condemn the misuse of journalism that hurt so many people. They could not, for they played a part in this ruthless game.

In the process, many were left speechless and wounded at seeing their private affairs drawn out in public for everyone to see for the small political gain of a political party. Lies were easy to disseminate for fighting them in court is expensive, a messy public affair, and long-drawn out. Even then, the damage is done on social media where people will choose to believe whatever reinforces their conceit. A defamation law that has no provision for malicious libel leaves little protection against abusive publications.

The state of the PN today perhaps reflects the most on Simon Busuttil, who followed in the footsteps of Lawrence Gonzi, in a belief that only the PN was a natural choice for government. Busuttil saw the ‘other’ through the lens of class prejudice, clocking people as “having the face of a Nationalist” or not, and surrounded himself by those who shared this sense of superiority.

Many observing the PN leadership debates are now trying to understand how the PN’s unofficial party loudspeaker has turned on ‘one of their own’ (altruism might not be high on the list of reasons…). Frank Portelli went as far as to declare on NET that “this blogger will be dumped into the rubbish bin of history”. I’m sure he is also about to end up as history’s footnote himself. How far the PN’s inner core will truly let go of that really long leash, is another question altogether.

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Four months have elapsed since the magisterial inquiry headed by Aaron Bugeja into the Egrant affair started.

In the past, the magistrate has called up journalists who have published stories on this ongoing inquiry. I believe we have a right to ask about the state of the inquiry, considering what this country went through because of the central allegation that informed this inquiry.

As I see it, the magistrate has an obligation to publish these findings at the earliest occasion possible.

And by this, I don’t mean at his earliest convenience. I have been informed that the magistrate is now going round in circles since the investigations have found nothing and he is reluctant to close the inquiry. Surely, we have a right to ask why anything conclusive has not yet been published.

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Saviour Balzan is the founder and co-owner of MaltaToday. He has reported on Maltese poli...