She used her pen with the precision of a marksman. She could, in a few words, reduce bombast to ballast and show the world that the Emperor truly had no clothes on. She was the woman who had no name for some but a huge voice for all. She would have been 56 today.
Much has been written and said about her. I will not pretend to be able to add or somehow contribute significantly in that direction. What I would like to reflect upon however is the legacy she left behind. She, the Amazon armed to the teeth with a keyboard.
Journalism is not a profession for the faint of heart or the couch potatoes. Journalism requires grit and determination, often beyond belief. Even when supported by an institution, the constant gnawing at established principles of journalism with a varied arsenal of weapons, is tiring, just to put it mildly. Let me be clear, I do not refer to polite phone calls made by PR officers to complain about some aspect or other. That is their job and ultimately one always discusses. I am talking about the systemic bullying and harassment which many journalists face. She was one of the earliest to face such attacks. Keyboard gladiators, often barely literate and almost certainly unable to enunciate let alone understand certain words and concepts she used, would vilify her. Slowly they eroded her name, nibbling away, one insult at a time. This brave woman rode this miasma but ultimately it must have gotten to her too. In spite of that, she continued to soldier on in her search for truth. This is the essence of courage. Bravery is doing something when you know the risks involved. Persisting in such acts of bravery qualifies for indomitable courage.
Courage does not float on its own, in the air. It is not reserved to celluloid for the likes of Dwayne Johnson or Sly Stallone. Indomitable courage is the will to get out of bed every day and do what needs to be done knowing that you will get attacked viciously for it. This sort of courage is born of sound values and principles. She was nothing if not consistent in this aspect. Her vitriolic writings on the ingrained corruption she saw in Maltese society, her harsh criticism of amoral familism, her despair at the seemingly widening gap between Malta and the EU in terms of standards and values were based on strong beliefs. Malta for her was European, educated, cultured and certainly more than equal to holding its head up in the league of nations. Not the kind of belligerence pushed by the late Dom Mintoff, the man she loved to hate. Rather, the kind of assertiveness which stems out of knowing your self-worth, what you stand for and what you are prepared to defend. Her anger at the political and the business classes has its roots right there: the rapid deterioration of the ability of political operators to stand up and be counted for their principle and their giving in, to the Tantalus of the ballot paper and the lures set out by the monied. The situation, as she ominously pointed out in her last post, has indeed become desperate.
Ultimately, those who tried with all their might, and then some, to silence her, realised that this one-woman army was stoppable only in one way. Her elimination. Almost three years ago, in the prime of her career, having dug up enough dirt on politically exposed persons that her columns are still relevant sources today, her pen was silenced, broken. Her pen was. Her legacy was not. Like a phoenix, she rose from her scattered grave and imbued those who used to follow her writings with the courage to stand up and be counted. Like mercury, when one blob fragments, it will become a thousand other blobs. her murder sowed the seeds for a new political movement. Not allegedly progressive. Not determinedly conservative. Not less determined and militant, notwithstanding. Like the mythical bird, her spirit rose to new heights, truly undefeated. The murderers came to realise that in killing one woman they had spawned a multitude, a tsunami, which will eventually engulf them. The mills of God grind exceedingly slow but with exactness, they grind all to paraphrase Plutarch and Somerset Maugham.
Has Justice been served? Not yet, and there is a long way to go still. But this is a game of Qi, fluid, strategic. Unlike games, however, the truth will out even if slowly and painfully, in dribs and drabs. For this is, ultimately her legacy: to be the change-agent in a country which still has identity issues controlled by a powerful, money-grubbing clique which spans politics, professions and business.
That is why, that is how, she, Daphne Caruana Galizia still lives on.