The Malta Independent 9 March 2021, Tuesday

What’s A nice girl like you doing there?

Malta Independent Sunday, 28 May 2006, 00:00 Last update: about 8 years ago

The nuns at St Dorothy’s Convent must be swelling with pride. There, seated to Norman Lowell’s left at his press conference on Friday was his right-hand woman, Arlette Baldacchino. Arlette and I were in the same class for the entire five years of senior school at the convent, proving just how little effect schooling has over the other influences that shape our thinking. She has ended up a rabid racist who worships a vicious crank who thinks I should be strung up and killed, and that desperate people in boats should be shot before they get here. Both of them think that the world should be segregated according to skin type and racial origin. I, on the other hand, think they’re sick.

I wouldn’t have written about Arlette hadn’t she come out as the public face of Viva Malta, that hideous Nazi group that advocates violence, murder and racism. I rather liked her at school. She seemed like a nice girl whose ambition in life was to become a model, an ambition defeated by the fact that her very pretty head sat on a very short body, besides other factors. I would never have guessed she was such a nasty racist because in recent years she lived with a man of Pakistani origin, and has a half-Pakistani child. But you never know how other people’s minds work, or how they end up the way they do – bitter and full of hate and fear. The nuns might have told me to have compassion for her, but it is a little hard to have compassion for somebody who fronts an organisation that preaches a criminal philosophy. Instead, I wonder how a good-looking girl with so much early promise ended up as the side-kick to a dangerous nut-case who sells his hate-creed to the gullible and the twisted.

Arlette Baldaccino is the spokesman for Lowell’s crackpot organisation, Viva Malta, which he describes as “the political wing” of his deluded racist fantasy empire, Imperium Europa. She helps organise his Monday Club suppers, to which many people I know go because they think they’re so clever (grow up and get a life), and his full moon barbecues, and she is a main moderator of his web-site forum, where sick perverts, fascists and racists gather in the ether to egg each other on. Her code name is Etoile Noir, or Black Star. How sad.

Black Star recently addressed a fascist gathering in London. I know what she said because her speech is on the Internet and another Old Dorothean e-mailed it to me. I read it and thought how true the adage is that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The fact that Arlette’s education appears to have stopped at the age of 15 has made her prey to the same kind of perverted logic to which teenagers are vulnerable. Her speech reads like a fourth-form essay written by a kid with a chip on her shoulder and a grudge against humanity. When Lou Bondi invited her on to his show to sit and discuss the issue of immigration, alongside her intellectual and moral superiors, her squirm-making comments reflected a level of reasoning that is usually associated with those who have never left the village. “They are coming over in boats to convert us and turn Malta into a Muslim country,” she said. “They breed heavily, so soon there will be more Muslims than Christians.” From this, I gathered that Arlette still thinks of herself as a Christian. Perhaps Sister Ellul, our old headmistress, will call her and give her a good ticking-off. And all of this was said, to make matters worse, in that convent-school drawl that is just about bearable in teenagers but makes a middle-aged woman seem insufferably silly.

She embarrassed herself even more at the press conference on Friday. She is not against refugees, she said, but she doesn’t want them seeking refuge here in her backyard. “They should seek refuge in a country closer to home, where the culture and the religion are the same,” she said, displaying an ignorance of culture, geography, economics, international law, history and politics that is so profound as to make me aware all over again how important it is to fill our head with knowledge before somebody else fills it with rubbish. “It is ironic that most so-called refugees cross the length and breadth of Africa and instead of staying in another African country where there is no trouble, come to Europe,” she said. “That is what we are up against.” No, Arlette – I’m sorry, but what we are really up against is dangerous stupidity like yours, which is promoting a culture of violence in a country that has been peaceful for almost 20 years.

There was more choice ranting from pint-sized Black Star. “Those who speak in favour of giving shelter to immigrants should put their money where their mouth is and shelter them themselves, rather than expect us to pay for their food, lodging and everything else,” she foamed and frothed. Who is this “us”, Arlette? I don’t know about you, but your friend Norman isn’t a tax-payer because he doesn’t work. Are you and he paying for their upkeep? Is that why you have such strong personal feelings about the matter – because the government raids your bank account to pay the army? Or perhaps you have regular whip-rounds for the immigrants at your full moon barbecues, instead of just baying at the moon and turning into werewolves. And how do you know what the rest of us do or don’t do, when Christian charity dictates that the left hand shouldn’t know what the right hand is doing? We’re certainly not going to send you a press release about it. We might get more of our property burned, when your black-shirted, black-booted, black-hearted friends find out.

Some people say that Norman Lowell is dangerous because he is intelligent. He isn’t. He’s dangerous because he is stupid and uneducated. All the most vicious and cruel leaders in history were in this mould. And they all found acolytes who they could subsume into their way of thinking, turning them into willing and adoring slaves. Arlette Baldacchino is of about the same level of intelligence as Norman Lowell, which is why she is unable to regard him with a sense of detachment and see him for what he really is. His latest words of wisdom? “Each culture should keep developing in isolation. If we allow influxes of migrants, we will end up with a monoculture. We want to protect the European race. It’s ironic that people try to save animal and plant species from extinction but hardly anyone is speaking about saving the human race. Interbreeding between cultures will eventually lead to a monoculture. Africans should remain Africans just like Asians should remain Asians. We Europeans should remain Europeans... People work in different ways to secure their food and have evolved in different ways and should keep evolving distinctly from one another.” Oh, I see. That’s why his surname is Lowell but his face is as Semitic as mine is – because in the past there was no racial mixing and the races evolved separately to one another. In that case, why isn’t he a blue-eyed blond, or have a surname like Bugeja, Busuttil, Said or Abela? They say that ignorance is bliss, but Lowell’s ignorance is anything but for this country. It’s the seed of social disaster.

In a way, I am sorry for Arlette Baldacchino. She was a pathetic sight, slouched next to that dreadful man, who was sacked from the bank where he worked after a large sum of money went missing – and then the case, when he was prosecuted for fraud, fell through when the relevant documents disappeared from the Law Courts. How convenient for Norman Lowell that most people have forgotten how his “banking career” ended, while the rest never knew. I know, though. I also know that he had called me looking for a job when I was associate editor of this newspaper in 1992, just after the event. My good upbringing let me down as usual, and I actually found a polite way of telling him that this newspaper didn’t need on its staff any racists who had been sacked for suspected fraud. “I’m sorry,” I said. “There are no vacancies.” To my knowledge, he hasn’t worked since. Heaven alone knows what he lives off – by cadging coffee and pastizzi from shallow admirers in Attard cafes, probably. He certainly doesn’t live by selling his “Dionysian action painting” – a style of painting which he devised and named after the God of Wine and Drunkenness. As he described it to a journalist some years ago, he calls it that because first he drinks a lot, and then he goes at the paint for a minute on whatever is to hand – it could be an old car bonnet, it could be a plank of wood or a piece of plastic. For the past six years he has been trying to sell the results – all 300 of them – through his website Imperium Europa. “Wander through the gallery of Dionysian Action Painting and own the one you fall in love with”, his website trumpets. Nobody appears to want to own one, but that may have as much to do with the price as with the quality of the work and the fact that it was executed in a couple of minutes by a man who had too much to drink. Emotional Struggle is priced at Eur 500,000, and Eruption at Eur 12,000,000. Playfull Boobs in the Swimming-Pool (Arlette must have spelled that) has a price tag of half a million Euros. Raging Bull Sodomises Cloistered Nun costs Eur 200,000. If Arlette saves up hard, maybe she could buy it for St Dorothy’s, as an ex-alumni gift. Or maybe Lowell will give it to her for free if she smiles at him hard enough.

Some very bad things must have happened in Arlette Baldacchino’s life for her to end up so sour and twisted – a bitterness that, when combined with a sorely inadequate education and impoverished thought, has caused her to end up sitting next to Norman Lowell and smirking at him adoringly. But then, some very bad things happened in my life, too, and I didn’t end up like that. In the end, what we are is what we choose to be. There is no excuse. As her choice of code name implies, she probably thinks of herself romantically as a front-line fighter in the battle for racism, up against the deluded foolishness of people like her old classmate Daphne Vella, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the establishment, the political system, the United Nations, the Declaration of Human Rights, and the whole world. Or, as we used to put it at school when we were 11 years old, Malta, Europe, the World, the Universe. They’re all against us.

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