Cockroaches, bitches and other animals

So where do we go from here? Nowhere, really ... and everybody has to lump it. Insults are the order of the day and so it will remain ...

Multi-ethnicity made the Roman Empire great
Multi-ethnicity made the Roman Empire great

‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’ goes the famous quote from George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’.

Yet there are some among us who think that cockroaches and bitches are inferior to the rest of us. Or – better still – disparage human beings by referring to them as members of the animal world such as these two. Not just these two, of course. Otherwise the pigs and the jackasses would protest!

Take cockroaches, for example. They are popularly depicted as dirty pests, though the great majority of species are actually inoffensive and live in a wide range of habitats around the world. They were here before man and will probably survive even after mankind is obliterated. They can even survive nuclear fallout, these resistant small fellows. So using their name to disparage others does not even make sense – except for the fact that many are biased against them and consider these nice creepy, crawly insects as insects which are vile and despicable – nay even loathsome.

Bitches are, of course a different breed. Without them we would not have cuddly puppies, of course. Yet people use the term for disparaging others of the female kind because ‘bitch’ refers to the female dog, which does not have one male partner. It is also used for females who go astray and don’t give a damn about chastity or virginity. But then people using the term do not bother to go into the finer nuances of the expression.

I wonder what St Francis would have said about all this ...    

The art of disparaging people is a characteristic of the Maltese Mediterranean culture. It is common to all. Ask the Arabs and the Sicilians and you will realise where we get our ideas from, although disparaging people by describing them as some sort of animal is practically an international custom. Man must show his superiority to fellow man by comparing – or describing – him as an animal of some kind, all because animals are inferior to humans. Or so we have been trained to think!

In Malta one finds this tradition wherever people disagree with other people: across party political sides, across the north/south divide, across the hoi polloi / ‘tal-pepe’ rift, across the Gozo channel and across all festa, band club and sport clubs piques. 

The funny thing is that there are people who pretend that they do no such things and refer to those who do as ‘hamalli’, when in fact everybody does it. Some say it aloud; others write it on Facebook without realising that they are screaming all over the world while others use Twitter, assuming they are engaged in a private conversation when they would be actually publicly exposed. At the end of the day, everybody is actually loyal only to this idiosyncrasy: disparaging others is the name of the game.

In my contribution a few weeks ago, I asked whether it is true that in Malta there are two tribes and I concluded that this is not the case. The latest Twitter revelations confirm that there are really no basic differences between Labour hamalli and innate Nationalists. The illusion of these differences has not withstood the test of time as the incident of the not-so-pretty lady shouting ‘karrotti’ in front of the Law Courts had already indicated.

We try to pretend that we respect all fellow human beings – whether we agree with them or not on political, religious, ethnic, tradition and behavioural issues. What we say in our heart (bejni u bejn  ruhi – as the Maltese expression goes) used to be a tight secret until the nefarious Facebook and Twitter phenomena undermined our peace-loving society. 

So where do we go from here? Nowhere, really... and everybody has to lump it. Insults are the order of the day and so it will remain.

Then, of course, on Mother’s Day we all become soft and tender, remembering the docile woman (not the bitch) who brought us into this savage world. Motherhood is so noble that we are all mother-huggers... in a world where bitches do not exist and cockroaches are nowhere to be seen!

The Trump card

Many in Europe who do not realize the shallowness of the mentality of the average US voter are surprised that Donald Trump has virtually garnered the Republican Party’s nomination for the US Presidential election next November.

In actual fact the Grand Old Party – the Republicans – have shown that they do not deserve the epithet ‘Grand’ any more. The way they continually obstructed whatever the Obama administration attempted to do to fulfill the promises that led to Barak Obama’s election was shameful. The end result was the implosion of the Republican Party with its grass roots opting from someone outside their party’s machinations. 

Trump says that he wants to make America great again by building a wall to bar migration from Mexico and ensuring that Muslims do not enter the US. This is shortsightedly silly. The call against multiculturalism however rings a bell in the minds of people who cannot think two steps ahead in life! 

Writing in a recent contribution in a Democratic Party blog ( Hrafnkell Haraldsson drew a parallel between the Roman Empire and the US. The Romans were not all Italians but a mixture of people: an ethnic melting pot that included Germans from the Rhine, Syrians from Palmyra, as well as Spaniards, Gauls, Thracians (modern Bulgaria), Frisians (modern Holland), Pannonians (modern Hungary), Dalmatians (modern Croatia), Tungrians (modern Belgium), Sarmatians (modern Ukraine) and others. And it was this multi-ethnicity that made the Roman Empire great.

Haraldson insists that the Roman Empire was great because it was multiethnic and points out that the emperor Septimius Severus is shown in a painting to have had a dark skin. Another emperor is known to history as Philip the Arab. ‘The Roman genius was their ability to be inclusive, not exclusive’ concludes Haraldson.

Much more interesting is the fact that a 2013 Gallup poll showed that Democrats are racially diverse while Republicans are mostly white. Which explains why Trump’s tirade against Mexicans and Muslims goes down well with the Republican core…

And why Trump as President of the US would be a threat to the US itself and a threat to world peace.

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