The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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Political Giant? Mintoff was a poison dwarf

Malta Independent Thursday, 23 August 2012, 00:00 Last update: about 11 years ago

Mintoff, a political giant? I’d like to include an expletive here, but strong ones are inappropriate for publication and any mild one just won’t do.

If another current or former Nationalist politician thinks he has to say that Mintoff had good points or that the good he did outweighs the bad, I’m going to have to conclude that the whole ruddy lot of them need to have their heads examined, and not just Franco Debono and Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando.

What exactly are they trying to do here – be Christian? It’s perfectly possible to be Christian towards the dead without upsetting the living victims or insulting the memory of those who died before their oppressor did.

It’s not as though Mintoff’s death hasn’t been expected for some time now. The prime minister, the former prime minister and various other Nationalist politicians had ample time to craft perfectly elegant statements which stayed true to history while at the same time being a statesman’s or former statesman’s appropriate response to a death of this kind.

As it was, the statements and declarations were ridiculous and offensive and they have upset a great many people whose lives were seriously disturbed by Mintoff. Perhaps the most upsetting words were spoken by Eddie Fenech Adami, who came into being and into his own as leader of the Opposition precisely as a visceral response, in terms of the power of good, to what was the power of evil in the shape of Mintoff’s government.

It was Mintoff and his puppet Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, and the awfulness of those years in which Malta was reduced to a cross between Albania and Libya,that made possible the emergence of Fenech Adami as the true ‘Salvatur’. If the good that Mintoff did truly outweighed the bad, as Fenech Adami said yesterday (or was he misquoted?) then Fenech Adami wouldn’t have been necessary. That much should be obvious.

To say that Mintoff had his good points is like pointing out that Hitler loved puppies or that Mussolini made the trains run on time, or that Gaddafi put Libya on the map. Oh, so that makes it all right, then.

For their sake and ours, the Nationalist politicians who are on this train heading towards a concrete wall of sheer stupidity should stop making utter fools of themselves. A man has died. There is nothing good to be said. You’re giving him a state funeral because he gave one to George Borg Olivier in 1980.

Leave it at that, and cut the cant.

Nationalist politicians are out of their minds to speak and act as though Mintoff didn’t wreck Malta and make us so ruddy desperate that Eddie Fenech Adami became a sort of Moses. We lived in hell, and we will never forget it. The reason many people began voting Nationalist, and this includes my extended family, was precisely because of those years and Dom Mintoff. It was only later that it became a vote of conviction for the Nationalist Party rather than a vote to keep them out of government.

Joseph Muscat has now taken advantage of the situation by having himself filmed and photographed laying a wreath at the foot of a monument to Lord Strickland, and telling the press that Strickland’s liberal and progressive views were taken on by Dom Mintoff. What utter tosh. Muscat should seek to work out how many supporters of the Strickland Party preferred to switch to their sworn and fatal enemy, the Nationalist Party, rather than vote for Mintoff. Again, that includes practically my entire extended family. Yes, some Strickland supporters did vote for Mintoff in 1971, but they quickly changed their minds and didn’t do so again.

So now we have leading Nationalist politicians helping the Labour Party in its rewriting of its shoddy history, after telling us for the last three years that Muscat is practically committing a criminal act by doing so.

You can‘t praise and eulogise Mintoff in death and then go back to campaigning with horror stories about what life was like under the Labour governments of the 1970s and 1980s, and how terrible it is that ministers from Mintoff’s cabinet are still hanging around Joseph Muscat. Make up your minds. If you tell people that Mintoff wasn’t so bad after all, and that the good he did outweighed the bad, then the natural response among people who don’t remember or don’t care is: “So what’s all the fuss about then? Imagine how great Muscat will be with Mintoff’s men around him.”

They are contradicting themselves and undermining their own campaign message, and worse than that, they cause offence to all of Mintoff’s victims who vote Nationalist largely because they hate Labour for what Labour did to them.

When men die, they don’t automatically become good. They just become dead.

Twenty-five years of peace, prosperity, free education for all, massive economic improvement and EU membership, but still Mintoff supporters and their offspring will never change. The last thing they need is encouragement from the Nationalist Party that was supposed to protect society from their excesses. Reconciliation works only when the two sides are prepared to reconcile and when the two sides have the same values and code of decency. It does not work when you are up against a totally different and savage culture, because what it becomes then is highly dangerous unilateral disarmament and not peace and civilisation.

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