If Giorgia Meloni is a ‘fascist’… what’s Malta’s entire political establishment?

What are we to say about Meloni’s approach towards immigration, that it actually falls far short of the extremes that both Labour and PN have gone to, in their attempts to ‘discourage irregular immigrants from reaching our shores’?

It seems that – not for the first time in his political career – Edwin Vassallo is a little confused. And to be honest: this time, I can’t say I really blame him...

Consider, for instance, how the former Nationalist minister reacted to local reportage about Giorgia Meloni: the supposedly ‘extreme right-wing’ candidate, whose ‘Fratelli D’Italia’ triumphed in last Sunday’s Italian elections.

“I understand that The Times of Malta has its own agenda, and I respect its decision to be part of ‘Woke Culture’; but I can’t understand why being ‘woke’ means that a journalist has to write stories which aren’t true. Meloni made her own decisions; and now, the Times of Malta has joined forces with those who – because they don’t agree with Giorgia Meloni – have ended up ridiculing her, lying about her […] just because she said she was a ‘Christian mother’…”

In case you were wondering, the Facebook post was linked to a Times article under the headline, “Fears for rights under Italy’s ‘Christian mother’ Giorgia Meloni”… one of several news reports that expressed ‘concern’ (if not downright ‘panic’) at the prospect of Italians electing “the most extreme right-wing government since World War II”.

Meanwhile, just to give you an idea of what’s actually causing all this anxiety… this is the very first sentence: “From abortion to gay marriage, civil rights activists in Catholic-majority Italy fear a significant set-back with the expected election triumph of a far-right party dedicated to defending ‘traditional family values’…”

Elsewhere, we’ve also been reminded that the same Meloni had campaigned under the slogan, “God, Family, Fatherland”; and that “[she] has taken a hard line on immigration, with the right-wing coalition citing public safety as a priority…”

Right, I’ll stop there for now; because already I can hear the grinding of mental cog-wheels, as Edwin Vassallo struggles to make sense of all that; to comprehend why ‘The Times of Malta’ – which has (let’s face it) been nothing but a bulwark of ‘traditional family values’, for most of its 80+-year history – would suddenly reject the very same political ideals it once championed, as… ‘Fascism’, of all unearthly things!

[Note: for accuracy’s sake, it must be pointed out that – while The Times certainly did publish an entire barrage of ‘anti-Meloni’ articles, in recent weeks – not a single one of them was actually written by its own journalists. They were all syndicated features produced by the Agence France-Presse (AFP)… as are most of the contributions that appear in its ‘foreign affairs’ section.]

But no matter: it doesn’t change the fact that Edwin Vassallo’s reaction was – for a change – perfectly understandable. Not just because the above editorial line does seem to jar slightly, when compared to The Times’ previous stands on issues such as ‘family values’ (and especially, ‘abortion’) … but also because every single one of those presumably ‘Fascist’ traits, applies just as much to Edwin Vassallo’s own party (not to mention Edwin Vassallo himself), as to Italy’s ‘Giorgia Meloni and her Band of Merry Blackshirts’.

Let’s go over them all again, shall we? And oh look: the Catholic News Agency has just made that task much easier for us, by listing out “seven things to know about Giorgia Meloni’.

Here are a few of them:

She made her faith a major part of her campaign

“Meloni has described herself in speeches as a Christian and has publicly expressed her admiration for Pope St. John Paul II. She keeps a photo of John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta on her desk […]”

Now: at the risk of asking a purely redundant question… has there ever been a single Nationalist politician, in the entire history of the Nationalist Party, who wasn’t guilty of EXACTLY the same ‘manifestation of Fascism’, over the years?

Take Eddie Fenech Adami, for instance. How many times had we heard him express similar ‘admiration for Pope John Paul II’, in the quarter-century he was Prime Minister of this country? Oh, and that reminds me: what was the Nationalist Party’s own cherished motto, throughout that time (and all the way down to today, in fact)?

Why, ‘Religio et Patria’, of course… which not only translates into (almost) exactly the same motto as Meloni’s much-maligned ‘God, Family, Fatherland’… but it also resulted in a political philosophy that bound the Nationalist Party to uphold the basic tenets of Catholicism, in virtually all its own policies and decisions.

It was for this reason that the PN had opposed the introduction of divorce, for the entirety of the time it was in government (which, by the way, is already a lot more ‘extreme’, than anything Meloni herself has been accused of thus far); and also, why Eddie Fenech Adami was so dead-set against the introduction of IVF…

… not to mention ‘gay rights’: which naturally brings us to the next item on our list.

[Meloni] has committed to opposing LGBTQ policies and gender ideology.... 

Now: admittedly, the PN may have softened its previous homophobic stance, since the days when Eddie Fenech Adami was still its leader… but it remains a fact that Meloni’s views on ‘gender and sexual identity’ actually pale to insignificance, compared to the ones that the PN used to promulgate until just a few years ago.

This, for instance, was how Eddie Fenech Adami regarded ‘same-sex marriages’ in 2011 (i.e., seven years after stepping down as Prime Minister):

“The Nationalist Party’s former leader made a stern statement against gay rights yesterday, after the party mentioned homosexual couples in a policy document it approved over the weekend. “If there is any equating [gay unions] to marriage between a man and a woman, it is wrong... Even if the word [marriage] is not used,” Dr Fenech Adami told The Times.”

Later - almost exactly a year later, to be precise - his erstwhile deputy Tonio Borg was likewise reminded of all his own previous views on homosexuality, when ‘grilled’ by the European Parliament as a prospective European Commissioner.

As Statewatch put it in 2012: “Tonio Borg supported Malta’s incorrect transposition of the Free Movement Directive (2004/38/EC), for which the European Commission had started infringement proceeding because it explicitly excluded same-sex couples, breaching EU law. He vocally defended that only relationships that were ‘in Malta’s national interest’ should be recognised…”

And again: that’s already a lot further down the path of homophobia, than Giorgia Meloni herself has so far ventured (as I far as can see, all she’s really done so far is: ‘pick a fight with Peppa Pig’…)

But wait, we haven’t even got to the most bizarre of the ‘Fascist’ accusations, currently being flung at Giorgia Meloni (but not, curiously, at people like Roberta Metsola: who have, after all, expressed exactly the same sentiments before). Ready?

Meloni supports several pro-life and pro-family policies

“In a speech earlier this year, Meloni summarized her pro-life platform: ‘Yes to the culture of life, no to the abyss of death!’…”

Hmmm. Naturally, I won’t bore you with a full list of the COUNTLESS TIMES that Maltese politicians – not just old-school Nationalists like Eddie and Tonio, by the way; but (almost) every single Member of Parliament, on both sides of the House – have said more or less exactly the same thing, over and over again…

… and to save time, I’ll even bleep over the next (and last) item on the CNA’s list:

Meloni is strongly against illegal immigration

(I mean, honestly: can you name me even one, single solitary Maltese politician – from either Nationalist or Labour Parties - who isn’t?)

But never mind all that; because by now, the source of Edwin Vassallo’s confusion (and, I must confess, my own too) is… well, right there: staring us all in the face.

Not only does this new definition of the ‘extreme right’ – which, incidentally, seems to have been coined exclusively for the benefit of Giorgia Meloni – make ‘instant Fascists’ of ALL our Malta’s own political establishment…

… but quite frankly, it would also place both our mainstream parties much, MUCH further to the extreme right of the political spectrum, than Giorgia Meloni herself could ever hope to end up (even after an entire lifetime of ‘impersonating Benito Mussolini’…)

That part about abortion, for instance? The CNA added that: “Meloni has not said she will attempt to change Italy’s abortion laws. She has, however, proposed pro-life and family policies to encourage motherhood, including free child-care services…”

So… erm… how much less of a ‘Fascist’ does that make her, than Malta’s Nationalist and Labour Parties (which, to this day, both uphold an ‘absolute ban on abortion, in all circumstances, with no exceptions whatsoever’, etc.)?

And what are we to say about Meloni’s approach towards immigration, for that matter… if not that (once again) it actually falls far short, of the extremes that both Labour and PN have gone to, in their attempts to ‘discourage irregular immigrants from reaching our shores’?

To put that another way: so far, Giorgia Meloni has only threatened to impose a ‘naval blockade, to force immigrants back to Libya’. Well, guess what? Successive Maltese governments have been actually DOING that – as opposed to merely ‘talking about it’ – ever since immigration first became an issue, in the early 2000s…

But in any case: small wonder, I suppose, that Edwin Vassallo is so confused. Just like the rest of us, he must have suddenly woken up to the fact that… hang on a second! Doesn’t this mean we’ve all been living in a ‘Fascist dictatorship’, for around 70 years now… without any of us ever even NOTICING?!