“Don’t blame the victim”. Finance Minister Edward Scicluna’s comments to journalists on the Enemalta-Montenegro deal that stinks to high heaven focused on one aspect – Scicluna, the government he forms part of and all the actors at Enemalta have been conned.
Scicluna’s statements are reassuring in that they constitute a more than implicit admission that the deal is as corrupt as it gets.
For once, a Labour government exponent was not shifting to the tried and tested defence of “it’s all lies and allegations”. Nor was there a mention of traitors or conspiracy against the government.
Instead, Scicluna told us that along with everyone else who matters in the Tagħna Lkoll meritocratic universe, he had been conned. He was the victim.
Now let’s set aside for a moment the abject absurdity of the mere notion that Scicluna and the disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s Band of Enabled Thieves are victims in this particular version of the corrupt plot that is unfolding around us.
Let’s even, for a moment, ignore the Damocles’ sword hanging on our heads in the form of the Moneyval evaluation.
We will ignore that the supposed victim presided over the withering structures that failed to safeguard against the spread of institutionalised corruption.
Let’s, for a moment, imagine that the trumpeted, hurried reforms to strengthen areas such as the FIAU, the Asset Recovery Unit, the police in general and other such authorities are being carried out by someone other than the geniuses on whose watch it all went to hell in the first place.
I would like to focus for a moment on the concept of “victim” that is becoming a popular line of defence in political and not-so-political circles. It is an interesting phenomenon probably fished from the depths of our Catholic conscience and upbringing.
Following closely in the footsteps of the lay transformation of such concepts as “confession” and “absolution”, the concept of victimology resonates well with citizenship that transforms politicians into messiahs.
In the mind of its practitioners ‘victimology’ leads to a form of absolution. An appeal to pity takes the place of any other form of justification for one’s actions in the hope that ‘all is forgiven’.
The unforgettable cringeworthy moment of Michelle Muscat’s interview where she said ‘she was more sorry than Daphne Caruana Galizia’s own family when the journalist was assassinated’ is a clear illustration of the victimology I am talking about.
The Queen of Floaters implied that Caruana Galizia’s death was regrettable because the journalist was no longer available to be challenged on allegations (a favourite word with victimologists). ‘Now I will have to live with her lies’ – the conclusion uttered without an ounce of shame by the wife of the disgraced prime minister is an attempt to win empathy from the crowd.
Muscat too is not known to hold back from drawing out the victim card, maybe not always directly but the implication is there in the background – he is not the cunning artificer but the innocent do-gooder who stumbled unawares into a den of thieves.
Another member of the Church of Victimology is Melvin Theuma. Many a jaw was left irreparably damaged as it remained stuck to the floor following his performance in court. In his case, the assassination of Caruana Galizia meant an end to life as he knew it.
You had to pinch yourself to make sure this was a guy deeply involved in the murder who was claiming that the biggest damage was done to himself. Crazy right? But proof, if any was needed, that victim status has its own sense of appeal these days.
Joe Mizzi has also taken up the victim routine claiming that he knew absolutely nothing of what went on in Montenegro.
Sure, Konrad Mizzi, the latest fall guy in the plot has his signatures all over the place but Joe the other Mizzi is a clear example of the many members of the Labour hierarchy who had hitherto been content to warm their seat, earn their money and ride the majority ‘40,000’ wave without asking any questions. That makes them victims now, apparently.
Konrad, on the other hand, is now clutching at the proverbial and his letter to the disgraced Speaker of the House included a ‘victim’ appeal to the only majority that counts in this country.
He will remain faithful to Labour notwithstanding being summarily ditched by the rest of the clan – and his action is addressed directly to the voters who are still willing to forgive and forget this poor victim of circumstance.
For some inexplicable reason, he remains, among the core majority, the minister who gave us cheaper energy bills and saved Air Malta… two lies that no amount of facts seem to be able to dispel.
It is telling that much of the terminology and communication around this victimology is aimed at that citizen majority groomed over decades into a sense of tribal submission. With weakened courts of accountability, the demos remains the last resort for appealing for forgiveness.
This tribalism continues to slow down any possible recovery notwithstanding any superficial reforms being trumpeted now.
A last word for the Nationalist Party that believes itself to have been regenerated because of the adoption of a new statute. I have gone on record saying that “the PN must die” if we want to change in the country.
That old concept of the PN will survive any cosmetic reforms so long as the new Party that is formed does not prioritise the kind of constitutional changes that would harm its own privileged status (and that of the PL) in our basic set up.
Reforms and renewal (Riforma u Tiġdid) will only be credible if this basic underlying element is taken on board. If that is not the case, then the PN can just tag on to the broken record of victimology that seems to have caught on nowadays.
Just victims of the in-house drive by – they say, “jump!” and you ask, “how high?”
Follow Jacques Rene Zammit on his blog J’Accuse.