The Malta Independent 17 October 2019, Thursday

Should we care about dates?

Victor Calleja Sunday, 15 September 2019, 10:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

Does anyone care that today is the 15th of September: a date un-noted, a day with no historic significance? The date stands, perfectly poised, between September 8 and 21 - the two days when we glory in our national myths.

On these two days we feel a special affinity with the colour red: the red of our hot-bloodedness and the red of our flag, symbolising the blood which our ancestors shed for their ideals.

What an inglorious load of garbage.

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Why do we make such a jingoistic and nationalist thing out of these two dates? I use the word 'nationalist' not in relation to the pathetic party in opposition (the Nationalist Party) but in its real and scary meaning: nationalist, a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on the promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations (from the Merriam-Webster dictionary).

We should rejoice in being independent and no longer part of a foreign, oppressive empire. But if we have built an oppressive regime on our own soil, what use is waving flags or laying wreaths on dead pieces of sculpture?

What is the true worth of independence if we fought for our freedom but now hardly pay lip-service to the rule of law, let alone put it into practice?

Beyond the need for myths and glory, what do these days mean? Beyond the pomp and anthems, we should look deeply into our soul and see the fullest truth, the fallow soullessness.  We should see what is being spewed out by people in power, people waiting in the wings of power and those wearing priestly garb.

The recent controversy of a priest speaking to 'the people' in front of the Great Siege monument is symptomatic of the rot that has attacked this land. In his hands he held rosary beads - to prove to us how Christian, how Catholic, how loving of anything Marian he is. He was there - dog-collared - to defend Malta's Christian values and to attack anything connected to the infidel.

What he said was grotesquely cruel. It was grossly unchristian. He berated a man who spoke during the festivities held to celebrate 8 September when the Turks surrendered, back in the 16th century. The day is also the commemoration of the birth of Our Lady.

This priest - can he be considered a man of God? - said that this speaker was a Muslim and therefore should not have been allowed to defile our national day. Because, the priest contended, the Muslims were beaten fair and square back then and we don't want them here now.

The priest went on to emphasise that we are not Muslims. The undertone to this is that Muslims are unclean, a race beneath sophisticated, civilised, Christian us.

The priest also said that, back then, we - the brave Maltese people - fought the Turks to defend our faith, our beliefs and our Christian heritage.

What bilge! But sadly, it is not garbage uttered by a lonely loon of the far right. It is drivel mouthed by a man of the cloth who is allowed to utter these despicable thoughts and remain a man of Christ. Inciting hatred is not freedom of expression and certainly has no place in the church instituted by Jesus Christ - so the church authorities should strip him of all ecclesiastical powers and preferably have him shipped off to some desert island.

Sadly, this priest's horrible words represent the views of many in all corners of this land, which is dramatically turning into a land of bigots.

Fear-mongering is growing. It attacks our inner core and we are seeing racism not just raging forth but becoming the norm. If priests and politicians foment such bile, what is to be expected from the less-informed? If no action is taken against these people who should lead by example, the herd instinct takes over. And, as a result, the far right grows in allure, in stature and subsequently in strength and voting power.

Even saying that the Maltese - our ancestors - defended the right to our religion is a pure piece of bullish droppings. The Knights, our old rulers, made us do it and hardly for religious reasons. The main reason was their right to go on plundering and slave-trading. Very Christian indeed!

If we do not go beyond words, beyond silly myth-making, we are doomed.

Our leaders have turned into professional whitewashers who try to deface reality and never seek out the virus of hate that has taken over this land. With our unimportant dates to keep us drunk and elated, we face a dark future of soulless bigotry.  


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