There’s a process in linguistics known as fossilisation, in which incorrect language becomes a habit and cannot easily be corrected so you keep repeating the same old mistakes.
It reminds me of the lyrics in the Cranberries’ song about ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland: “It’s the same old theme since 1916. In your head, in your head, they’re still fighting”.
Stuck in a past. Stuck in an idea. Stuck in a rigid interpretation of reality that’s stuck in your own head. Fossilised.
There are many people still fighting in Malta, fighting for some Mintoffian ‘dream’ (others’ nightmare) they either lived through or inherited from generations of parents and grandparents who were ‘born’ into the Labour Party. And it is a matter of birth, just as in Northern Ireland you were born on one side of the divide or the other. In some cases, streets were divided along sectarian lines.
Sectarianism is precisely the word for Malta – a strong support for a political group which isn’t rooted in rational argument or debate but derives from blind unquestioned devotion to the Party concerned.
The fight for this Party is real, no matter the delusional basis from which this emerges. The assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia was part of this ‘fight’, whoever directly ordered her killing.
The fight had begun long ago, through the sustained dehumanisation campaign which was complete by the time she was assassinated.
Her killing was thus deemed justifiable, a cause for celebration, a glorious moment of much deserved revenge.
Revenge for what, exactly? Revenge for daring to criticise the Party on which the life blood of its supporters depend for their existence, their identity, their entire concept of life?
Yes, judging by the Facebook posts made by the ardent Laburisti involved in Thursday’s assault on activists placing candles and flowers at the protest memorial in front of the law courts.
Helen Cutajar didn’t just appear out of nowhere and begin hurling verbal abuse at peaceful protesters. Her presence, whether planned or otherwise, was a product of a life defined by her loyalty to the Party, a life which has no meaning once that is removed.
Graham Greene captures this perfectly in his novel, Brighton Rock: “It’s like those sticks of rock: bite it all the way down, you’ll still read Brighton. That’s human nature”.
Cutajar’s Facebook profile shows a woman whose public presentation of her seemingly indefatigable human nature is fervently defined by absolute fidelity to Partit Laburista. Political discussion is null and void. Instead we have photos of Cutajar with Joseph Muscat, with his wife Michelle, with Konrad Mizzi, Glenn Bedingfield, Rosianne Cutajar et al.
We have hate posts about Simon Busuttil, Occupy Justice, civil society activists, and a photo of Cutajar dressed as a witch shortly after the assassination of a woman who, in her first message to Caruana Galizia, wrote ‘may you rot in hell Daphne the witch’.
Yet, top officials of the Labour Party and government lined up for photos with her. Cutajar’s Facebook wall is, like her message to the now assassinated journalist who deigned to criticise her only grasp on the world, a bizarre mix.
She even pays her respects following the untimely death of Cranberries lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan, with a video clip of Ave Maria and a ‘wowwwwwwww’.
The Cranberries’ song Zombie was a plea for an end to violence, but Cutajar must have missed this as she perpetuates sectarian violence both through her verbal assault on activists and her persistent need, evidenced by Facebook, to defend something which is, ultimately, her all-pervading world view, encapsulated in Partit Laburista.
She’s symptomatic of so many ardent Party supporters who seem to be fighting for rights they feel deprived of or think they deserve or, most often the case, they believe they are entitled to (but others are not).
What these ‘rights’ consist of are extremely unclear as many of our basic human rights are being threatened and Cutajar’s actions are part of this attack – an attack on the right to freedom of expression, public assembly, freedom of thought without fear of retribution, protection of the rights and freedoms of others, fair and equal treatment by a fair and equal law, and an overriding right to democracy.
These are enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its 70th anniversary marked by an event at which Sandro Mangion, aide to Malta’s Foreign Minister, called Sarah Clarke, PEN International’s Policy Advisor, a ‘biased shithole’. Pen International immediately drew attention to the fact that the abuse hurled at their representative was a reflection of what women activists and journalists in Malta are facing.
In the depraved ‘serenity’ of Muscat’s Malta, zombies are alive and kicking. We live in the midst of the walking dead. We must resist this, and by peaceful means. The alternative is to be led, with violence, through a dark and deathly night.