The Malta Independent 26 June 2019, Wednesday

Lassana: a chronicle of brooms and Bangladeshis

Andrew Azzopardi Wednesday, 22 May 2019, 09:10 Last update: about 2 months ago

What we have witnessed in these last days is simply shocking on so many fronts.  That we have people driving by and shooting on each other is nothing but a renascent of a Bruce Willis Die Hard movie.  Shooting people was unthinkable until some years ago. 

Now linking that with racialism is even worse and to add insult to injury these two men, who allegedly committed this crime, are soldiers, one of them even part of the elite C-Company.  This has put the AFM on the spot.  Nonetheless, I join the national sentiment that these two people are not the AFM and the AFM is not them.  It is a pity that there is all this negative attention surrounding the Army which is at the forefront in dealing with rescue missions and also deployed on international military duties, for example, in Somalia.   When everything has failed, it is the Army that we turn to – and that is how it should remain. 

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But then again, the truth is that even on that front, the assessment of soldiers prior to being recruited and the ongoing CPD training and awareness on delicate social matters need to be more meticulous to weed out such elements.  

However, whilst this incident shouldn’t swoon us in thinking that the AFM is made up of a bunch of racist, xenophobic and prejudiced people, yet it does say something on the way we have steered this Country.  We have seen similar incidents happening in territories that had a history of racism and xenophobia - this disturbs me. 

Gunning, or should I say hunting, down people doesn’t just happen simply because there are senseless people ‘out there’.  There is a more fundamental issue that we need to contend with. 

The public discourse by politicians, wannabe MEPs and Local Council candidates, absurd and chancy vlogs and the nonsensical exchange in the public domain does not help at all.  From talking about push-backs by the Prime Minister to the Opposition Leader asking, “Is this how our children will end up?” referring to the fact that teachers from Bangladesh and Pakistan might teach in Malta.  From the main political party leaders agreeing to let migrants stranded on a ship for weeks on end to stating that it is OK for foreigners (and not Maltese) to pick up rubbish.

What I am referring to here is that we are starting to lose sight of the values and characteristics that have construed our communities.  The fear, the prejudice and the discrimination, in other words, the ‘us and them’ that is slowly and gradually creeping in our communities is now documented in what is probably the first racial murder.  But we need to ask ourselves why has it come to this?  Why is it that so many MEP candidates and politicians along these last years have been talking in the way they are doing and pushing so much for an agenda of exclusion?  

We are designing a society that is rightly so been secularized (it was high time) but at the same time what troubles me more is that now we are developing communities that are keen on staging difference. I suppose with so many changes happening in these last years, this situation was apt to happen.  Norms and values that previously were so well-articulated in our society are no longer to be seen and this has left a sense of nothingness.  There is no moral compass to contend with.  It is all about ‘me’ and the way ‘I’ see the World.  The rapid changes, the hurried transformations we have seen happening in our Country these last years has driven us up the wall.  We are completely jumbled and tangled.  We just cannot keep up and like headless chickens we keep hitting the wall hard. 

As a friend of mine once said, this situation is turning into an uncontrollable social current pushed by a defacing, dehumaninising neo-liberal agenda that is solely concerned with the ‘me and I’.  If we want to see a transformation it will take more than a tokenistic hug of a black teenager under a tent or an endorsement during a walkabout, or a Facebook declaration. It is about a quiet, or maybe, not so quiet exchange that needs to lead to a re/volution.  It is time to stop this decay and putrefaction of our social values. 

We are (just about) still in time.

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