Let’s call time on partisan ignorance

Nickie may have been characteristically naïve in showing her feelings but she is right in putting her finger on the alarm button

I cannot say I was much impressed when I saw Adrian Delia’s wife taking to Facebook to lament at how her son had been left out of a party because of petty politics. This time the complaint was coming from the Nationalists themselves, instead of the usual targets of the former PN leadership.

But the sentiment expressed was nothing new to many people, who feel that they have been singled out for derision for years either because of their political affinity, or mere opinion. I’d say that what happened to Nickie Vella de Fremeaux has happened to countless others, many who have had to suffer in silence. Even an honest outburst on Facebook would have been given short shrift.

This intolerance did not happen today, but it has been with us for ages and such bigotry has become a staple part of the political diet.

The fact that Nickie says she is experiencing this from Nationalists with such a Manichean world-view is perhaps telling. It shows the extent of partisan fanaticism that permeates across various classes.

I have always had zero tolerance for this kind of narrow-mindedness. But it is difficult to mix with people who one day are saying one thing and the other day saying another. So we make choices.

When blatant lies were being bandied around about me and my family, I could not take it sitting down as I saw so-called friends making that little endorsement on Facebook with a ‘like’ to inflammatory commentary. It was natural to me that such friends were for pruning. But it was not easy.

You get to know who real friends are, when in spite of how we look at things, they show up with embraces, moral support and understanding. Those of us who have children know that our children should never suffer because of our choices or our follies.

That is why last year I penned an opinion hitting out at parents who drag their young children to political events. I was accused of being ridiculous. But I am not: political events in Malta as in many other places are home to exaggerated commentaries and banal stereotyping.

But whereas it is usual for an independent newspaper to try its best to keep the balance and give an objective report, when it comes to one’s personal choices, the reality is very different. As we grow older, one either becomes more stubborn or more understanding.

Surely the one thing that is very important is not to waste time on futile affairs. If individuals, partners and families were willing to put their friendship after partisan politics, and not before, there is not much one can do. It is a choice people make and which, one hopes, they will come to realise and how silly they have been.

Having said this, it is correct to say that the prejudice, angst and hate originating from Nickie Vella de Fremeaux’s tormentors are based on ignorance, smugness and arrogance. Ignorance because they have not grasped the true facts. Smugness because they do not have the humility to accept when they are wrong. And arrogance to believe that the root of all evil is to be found on one side of the fence.

Nickie may have been characteristically naïve in showing her feelings but she is right in putting her finger on the alarm button

But life is no straight line, Nickie has to appreciate this and for some people it is even tougher. Most especially the children. Over the last fifteen years I have been told of individuals who actually committed suicide because of harassment on social media. They have been forgotten by everyone. This kind of abuse had been relentless and it added unnecessary tension and distress in families and relationships. None of Malta’s crusading non-partisan activists have ever seen the need to underline this reality.

Children ostracised by their friends because of peer pressure and pressure from parents is unacceptable. Nickie may have been characteristically naïve in showing her feelings but she is right in putting her finger on the alarm button.

BBC profile

I read through the latest profile for Malta by the BBC and I have to laugh.

The angle to the profile is itself telling, as it lists the events from the arrival of the British until today, as if our history started with the arrival of the empire and its army.

Historically and factually the profile is curious and incorrect. It omits so many important milestones, the good and the bad.

For example it notes:

1964-71 Independence granted. Conservative Nationalist Party pursues pro-Western policies.

1971 Dom Mintoff’s Labour Party takes power, and reorients Malta towards Libya and the Communist bloc.

It sounds like a typical comment from a trainee researcher working for some junior encyclopaedia. But this is the BBC.

And so the profile goes on…

2012 January – Malta’s credit rating, along with that of several eurozone countries, is downgraded by Standard and Poor’s rating agency. The IMF warns that the Maltese economy is at risk of contagion from the global financial crisis.

Now, from this point onwards there is not a peripheral mention of the credit ratings of Malta after 2013 – ratings which have surpassed many other eurozone countries. And after 2012, there are only two other time-lines mentioned, the fall of the Azure window and the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

You’d think that they would preface such recent history with the political murders of Raymond Caruana or Karen Grech, the Egyptair hijack, Mintoff’s role in the Helsinki summit with his open defiance of the US-USSR consensus, or Malta’s leadership in LGBT rights. Impressive.

My advice is: do tune in to the BBC for the latest cricket results, the Queen’s dietary habits, Boris Johnson and his letterbox joke.

But if you need to research Maltese history, perhaps Maltese newspapers can provide a more reliable start. I hope nobody is depending on this source for their facts about Malta.

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