This past week has not been a pretty one for the evaluation of the Maltese people’s character.
As so many race-related issues came to the fore, many were those who took to social media to spur hate and venom at others simply because of the colour of their skin, their country of origin, their activism and even their gender.
Comments such as ‘gas them like Hitler did with the Jews’ were thrown at the #Blacklivesmatter protestors who peacefully sat down in front of Parliament to make their point. Others, to the tune of ‘rape the girls’ and ‘beat the boys’ were posted in relation to the activists who had been campaigning for asylum seekers to be allowed onto our shores, as is their human right; a right even the country acknowledges seeing as Malta acceded to the 1951 convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, while also enacting the Refugees Act in 2002.
Even workmen asking for their due payment for works carried out at the Fortina according to plan elicited some comments like ‘Aren’t they used to going hungry in their country?’, ‘Why does everyone want to leech off of this little island?’, and the ridiculous ‘Make us a lamb doner with couscous and coleslaw.’
While there were many people who didn’t stoop to this level, it is beyond me how some feel so comfortable posting such comments and openly displaying lack of compassion and understanding… Not to mention that some of this is blatant racism that is embarrassing, unacceptable and even downright illegal in most civilised countries (America doesn’t count at this point, clearly).
- How can you not realise that when your answer to ‘#Blacklivesmatter’ is ‘#Alllivesmatter’ you are once again trying to steer the narrative away from the fact that Black people across the world are targeted simply because of the colour of their skin? ‘All’ lives only matter when that includes Black lives, too.
- How can you not realise that when you call for people whose opinion is different to yours to be ‘gassed like Hitler did with the Jews’, you are justifying the actions of a madman who is responsible for the death of millions of innocent people based solely on their ethnicity?
- How can you not realise that when you say things like ‘rape the girls’ you are perpetuating the idea that sex should be used as a weapon to subjugate women to ideologies and beliefs that aren’t theirs?
- How can you not realise that when you make fun of people who have not been paid in so long that they have had to resort to a hunger strike, you are essentially turning your back on modern-day slavery that sees people work for the betterment of the rich without getting what is theirs by right?
- How can you not realise that people out at sea need to be saved before we can have the discussion on whether they deserve asylum or not?
When George Floyd was being suffocated under the knee of a police officer for using a counterfeit $20 note in a Minneapolis shop, he called out for his mother: “Momma. Momma, I’m through,” he said.
How many mothers (and fathers, for that matter) in Malta would claim that they would be willing to go to the end of the world for their child? How many would beg and steal for their children? How many would, at the very least, ponder vengeance had their child been brutally killed? And how many would go to extremes to make sure their child is safe and healthy?
And so, how is it so difficult to extend some form of compassion on to others and others’ children? Why is it so difficult to treat activists in the same way we would hope others treated our children, siblings, or even ourselves? Why can’t we put ourselves in the shoes of someone who has not been paid for five months when so many of us live paycheque to paycheque? How can we be appalled that there are people tearing down statues of slave traders who probably trafficked their ancestors, when so many of our own countrymen were exploited and treated like ‘brown’ dirt in the countries they emigrated to in the hopes of earning a pittance through manual labour in the not so distant past?
Please learn some compassion and common decency!