Twisted logic on integration

It-Torca is right in putting immigrants on the same league as underprivileged Maltese minorities. But it is bloody wrong when it puts trappers in the same league as immigrants, gays and underprivileged Maltese minorities.

The association between underprivileged minorities and a lobby for cruel sports is doing countless harm to other legitimate calls for equality.
The association between underprivileged minorities and a lobby for cruel sports is doing countless harm to other legitimate calls for equality.

It felt good reading the first part of an editorial by it-Torca published last Sunday. It is positive that a newspaper with a direct influence on the Maltese working classes is editorially committed to integration of migrants, welcoming the report by Aditus a day after the same report was shot down in a moronic outburst by Malta’s envoy to the World Tourism Organisation Joe Grima.

The Torca editorial was spot on when it identifies “fear” as the greatest obstacle to a sane debate on migration issues.

Predictably the editorial proceeded to point a finger to the failures of past Nationalist governments to address this issue. I agree with it-Torca on this point. Back then, the very fact that we were saving people from drowning seemed to have absolved us of any further responsibilities. It was also the Nationalists who pioneered the detention system, which in itself promotes a culture of fear.

Yet the editorial is silent on the contribution given by the Labour government on this issue. For while sterling work is being done by both the education and civil liberties ministries, this government not only supports the detention of migrants but has sent very wrong messages, first by giving legitimacy to push backs and than by giving the impression that talent is equivalent to wealth, through a citizenship scheme which welcomes the super rich as full citizens while leaving the status quo for immigrant workers and their children, many of which also contribute to our society in various ways. 

Then the editorial started drifting to the plight of the underprivileged Maltese. Reference was made to LGBT people, victims of drug abuse and other forms of discrimination. I can’t agree more. I would say that just as the pushback days represented a dark episode in Maltese history, the introduction of civil unions was one of the happiest days in the country’s political life.  

Putting integration of migrants on the same plane as that of discriminated Maltese born people is perfectly logical. I would even add under-privileged Maltese and immigrant workers working in precarious conditions to the list. For human rights and social rights are two sides of the same coin. Moreover, precarious work conditions also create a fertile ground for racism and the present government is right in recognising this problem.

The same cannot be said about the constant reference to welfare scroungers. For while combating welfare abuse is the right thing to do, promoting a discourse, which highlights this problem, may give the impression that all those on welfare are parasites. 

But while I could easily overlook the editorial’s shortcomings in overlooking the mixed legacy of the current government, what really made me lose it was the way the editorial twisted the integration argument into a justification of bending rules to accommodate the trapping lobby.

First of all, being gay or an asylum seeker is not a hobby. Giving this impression is not banal but also offensive to people whose basic rights are denied. How can one compare trapping a bird with the fundamental right to form a family and to exercise social and political rights?

I could not but cringe at the way the editorial ended up defending tappers and putting this category in the same league of gays, lesbians, and immigrants when in reality it is simply a lobby which blackmails our political class and denies access to our countryside.  

The association between underprivileged minorities and a lobby for cruel sports is doing countless harm to other legitimate calls for equality. 

Giving the impression that to a practice a hobby in breach of common European rules is a right represents a twisted and perverse logic.... What’s next an argument of integration in favour of Armier squatters...and now that we are at it why not cock-fighters?

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