Perhaps, Konrad Mizzi fears that migrants rioting against injustice could inspire the Maltese electorate to follow their example. Luckily for him, it’s the migrants who seem to be the only ones pissed off enough to riot. Meanwhile, his electorate obediently swallows abuse.
by Julian Delia
Collage by the IotL Magazine
In the 2015 film ‘Focus’, Will Smith’s character is a professional conman, expertly versed in the craft of deceit, manipulation and scamming people out of their very last dime. During the film, he is also the narrator giving the viewer privileged access to the con’s inner workings. The movie title is one of the key pieces of advice the conman shares with us—if you are going to lie to someone, particularly to manipulate them, then you must be willing to take that lie with you to the grave, no compromise.
This piece of advice is based on the idea that what separates a good liar from a less accomplished one is the ability to sell the lie to anyone under any conditions, even if reality is actually and blatantly saying otherwise. That is exactly what Konrad Mizzi tried to achieve on that day before he finally let go of the minister’s scepter; all the bombastic statements, ‘the standing tall behind my achievements’ mantra, the fabrication of online support. All of it was about dying with the lie.
Now, Konrad Mizzi’s grandiose and narcissistic ego is even more apparent in a further, dire attempt at keeping up the lie. The insidious status which he shared on Facebook is a reflection of an exceedingly desperate search for maximum political gain out of any situation. After having committed so many violations of the electorate’s trust, Mizzi himself may be afraid that there is no genuine support left.
Or could it be that he fears that migrants rioting against injustice could inspire the Maltese electorate to follow their example?
Could it be that he fears that migrants rioting against injustice could inspire the Maltese electorate to follow their example?
Konrad Mizzi and his ilk seem to have nowhere to turn now, except for the tactic of populist demagoguery, the tried means of dividing and conquering people by fuelling sentiments of hatred.
So, let’s look into the nationalist sentiment brought up in this spiteful rhetoric. Konrad Mizzi claims he cares about Malta. Since when does he have any idea what it’s like to love ‘your country and its people’? Would someone who says he ‘loves his country and people’ also set up secret companies to hide away kickbacks from people who are pillaging the Maltese islands?
Furthermore, what point is there in ‘loving your country’ when in reality, the people who are that country—the people who build it, move it, shape it—are all being sacrificed on the altar of neoliberalism?
Clearly, someone living in stolen, borrowed luxury could never possibly fathom the horrors of crossing the Mediterranean on a dinghy whilst simultaneously leaving everything you’ve ever known behind. The way in which the post was worded, besides being deliberately resentful, generalising and inflammatory, also reflects a complete detachment from the realities of running away from places of war, violence or poverty (the very same places European and American militaries and major corporations seem to enjoy bombing and exploiting).
Persons treated with dignity and respect may be expected to reciprocate. There is nothing respectable about the way in which migrants are detained in centres.
The cherry on top of the bizarre cake that Konrad Mizzi just baked for us is the demand for respect for ‘us, our country, our culture, our religion and our people.’ Respect is a two-way street, Konrad. Persons treated with dignity and respect may be expected to reciprocate. There is nothing respectable about the way in which migrants are detained in centres, kept there without any definite date of release and generally living in misery and uncertainty. There is nothing respectable about fanning the flames of xenophobia and separating people based on whether they were born here or not.
This is the classic use of the ‘us vs them’ scenario, the tried and tested method of using meaningless props such as national flags, institutionalized religion and culture, and declaring those to be ‘our’ traditions that need to be defended from change at all costs. Any deviation from what we are used to is a threat to our great nation, and it must be assimilated, neutralized, domesticated—or sent back…
There is no ‘us’, Konrad. We do not belong to the same category. You are simply a puppet willingly handing his strings over to the highest bidder, one who will just as willingly sell off every piece of Malta until there’s nothing left to sell, if given the chance. The crisis in the migrant centres has been brewing for a very long time—knowing the conditions migrants have to live in, nobody should be surprised or shocked by these riots and protests. If you express moral outrage at the people hosted there, this does not have anything to do with the supposed lack of respect being shown towards ‘our country’.
Your outrage rather tries to call upon our own real fears and insecurities in terms of our quality of life by blaming all the issues we actually do see on an easy target. Attempting to shift blame, it tries to make us believe that a demonized foreigner is here to take our jobs and houses, rather than acknowledging the fact that someone whom people trusted with their vote and support is selling us out.
Your outrage rather tries to call upon our own real fears and insecurities in terms of our quality of life by blaming all the issues we actually do see on an easy target.
We are fearing for our jobs, our safety and our lives because we’re all frying in the same pot, and Mizzis of this world will do everything in their power to convince you and me that the guy next to us in the frying pot is the root of our problem—not the one cooking us all. Political figures like Konrad Mizzi can never be truly respected when all they have is meaningless, populist rhetoric—true respect is earned by leading by example and inspiring others to do better and be better.
Just politicians are praised for their devotion to principles and common goals, not because they have a paid army of online trolls and are willing to fan the flames of hate. More importantly, human beings with a shred of decency would never stir aggression towards one of the most heavily exploited segments of the population—who had the audacity to protest being held indefinitely in what looks and feels like a prison.
As a matter of fact, Konrad, the next time you think about opening up that cesspool of a mouth of yours, make sure you don’t forget that we can all smell the rot on your breath. Vitals Global Healthcare, ElectroGas, Enemalta, 17 Black, Hearnville, and Tillgate. You’re lucky it’s the migrants who seem to be the only ones pissed off enough to riot. Sadly, your electorate obediently swallows injustice.
You’re lucky it’s the migrants who seem to be the only ones pissed off enough to riot. Sadly, your electorate obediently swallows injustice.
People of Malta and Gozo—legal or illegal, local or foreign, young or old, it doesn’t matter. We must stand together and watch each other’s backs, as those who claim to be the stewards of our society will do their utmost to turn us against each other. Now that their own conscience and sense of morality have long since abandoned them, everyone else is fair game.
The wheeling-and-dealing politicians and their wealthy patrons should never be our friends. We must see through their pretence. They will only pledge having our best interests at heart until it benefits their agenda to act otherwise. We should not let them ‘die with the lie’, we should kick them out with the truth.
Julian Delia is an activist at Moviment Graffitti and a poet.