A legacy of hate

Will Roberta Metsola’s success in European politics be the spark that starts the road to politicians ditching fanaticism and hate and replacing them with respect for one’s political adversaries

Roberta Metsola
Roberta Metsola

Roberta Metsola’s successful bid to be the EPP’s (European Peoples’ Party) candidate in the contest for the election of the President of the European Parliament has evoked contrasting reactions. Personally, I feel that she is to be congratulated, not just because she is Maltese, but also because this signifies the high regard that Roberta enjoys among MEPs in the EPP group.

When Labour Party MEP Alex Agius Saliba said that he will back Roberta Metsola in her bid to become Malta’s first ever European Parliament President – promising her his cooperation rather than interference for her candidacy – he was greeted by a barrage of criticism from Labour supporters.

Prime Minister Robert Abela tried to bridge the unbridgeable chasm between decency and the lack of decency among Labour supporters, by giving her his support while explaining: “If I did not support her nomination, I would be doing exactly what she did to our country. Therefore, the answer is obvious: yes, I support her.”

What exactly, did Metsola “do to our country”?

For those of my age, a Labour government accusing the PN of attempting to damage Malta at international fora or in the foreign press is old hat. That is a legacy from the Mintoffian era and of our colonial past.

Britain used the maxim ‘divide and rule’ to its utmost possibility for their benefit when dealing with its colonies. Presenting a united stand in the face of our colonial masters made sense. Today, 57 years after Malta attained independence, having made the impressive leap from a colony to a fully-fledged EU member state, the ‘holy’ stance of adopting a united front when dealing with ‘the foreigner’ is ludicrous.

Many people in Malta felt that under the Muscat administration, Malta faced rule of law issues. Those taking up this position and fighting to address the situation were not being capricious, because this issue was there, and is still here – albeit to a lesser extent. Malta was not the only EU country facing such issues, albeit the details are not necessarily the same.

Resorting to legal public demonstrations and to the EU because of these issues is the obvious way how to solve these issues in a peaceful way, more so since ‘rule of law’ is a basic tenet of the European Union. Describing such actions as ‘anti-Malta’ activities pushed the issue of rule of law into even more stormy water. This is what many Labour supporters cannot understand. For them the old colonial attitude of ‘us versus the foreigner’ still holds and is still sacrosanct! This is utter nonsense.

There are other EU countries where this is also happening, notably Poland and Hungary. However, the Polish and Hungarian governments never accused the dissenters in their countries as pushing anti-Polish or anti-Hungarian stances. These countries know first-hand what the term ‘nazi’ implies.

How some in Malta accused their compatriots pushing for the rule of law in Malta, notably Roberta Metsola, as part of a ‘mafia’ or as followers of some nazi doctrine is beyond reprehensible.

Nobody is perfect or always correct, of course. People have a right to agree or disagree. But political stances are to be discussed and contested in a civil way, not by dishing out irresponsible terms that are tantamount to hate.

Those who are leading the Labour pack should know this. Unfortunately, many keep on egging – directly or indirectly – their followers to look at political adversaries with hatred.

Hatred is the most understood and easily adopted human trait that exists. Because hatred is an emotional stance and not a logical one. And it is easier to hate your enemies than to love them!

So this is where we have ended. Social media, such as Facebook, has exacerbated stances mirroring hatred and abhorrence where none is justified. This is not just a local phenomenon – one can sense it all over the free world.

Labour has recently adopted a new catchphrase: the country we want to leave to our children. Nice one – but completely empty if Labour does not rein in its supporters teaching them that hate has no place in Maltese society and disagreement on political issues is a welcome phenomenon in a democratic world.

To switch this disagreement into hatred, on the grounds that those who accuse the administration of wrongdoing in international fora are traitors, is the worst legacy that Labour is fomenting.

Instead of leaving a country proud of its notable achievements despite its small size and the many difficulties it had to face, is Labour going to bequeath our children a legacy of hate that will take decades to be overcome? A country where hating one’s adversaries is encouraged? A country where it is ‘normal’ for people egging someone considering suicide to do it? A country where selfishness is supreme and the common good is irrelevant?

Will Roberta Metsola’s success in European politics be the spark that starts the road to politicians ditching fanaticism and hate and replacing them with respect for one’s political adversaries?

Alas, I doubt it.

Crossing the sea

Attempts to reach Britain by boat have increased since the authorities have cracked down on the smuggling of migrants inside trucks crossing the Channel Tunnel. Many migrants perceive Britain as an ideal destination because English is spoken, they may know people there, and the job market is more loosely regulated for undocumented workers.

At least 27 people drowned off the coast of France while two people were rescued and hospitalised this week after an inflatable boat carrying migrants trying to reach Britain capsized in the English Channel. According to Gerald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, the dead included five women and a girl. Darmanin was reported as saying that “France won’t let the Channel become a graveyard”.

The British PM, Boris Johnson, said that he was “shocked and appalled and deeply saddened” by the drownings that happened a few days after the French and British authorities had agreed to do more to stem the number of people crossing the English Channel illegally.

There is hardly any comparison between the crossings of a few migrants in the English Channel with the much larger number of crossings in the Mediterranean.

Yet the UK and France never bothered to take seriously what is happening in the Mediterranean and now it is crossings in the English Channel that are making the news!