I love my country, I really do. I am proud that my forebears were hard workers who kept their heads high when under foreign rule, I am proud of the courage and resilience they showed when the world was at war, and I am even more proud that their descendants – including myself – can count themselves part of a union which sprung out of a desire for unity between nations which years before were at each other’s throats.
Among the things I love about my country are the sea, the food and the fact that because of our small size as a nation, we think of ourselves as a unit more than bigger nations do.
Because I love my country, I am even more saddened and frustrated by the things that aren’t quite up to scratch. Unbridled development, ignorance and the state of public discourse all make me very, very angry. Did I not love my country, I would not let this get to me. I am, if you will, a bit of a patriot.
But before being patriotic, I am human, and because I am human, I strive to be humane. This means that I will never let the love for my country get in the way of being kind or compassionate to other people who need it. My country, after all, is made of people too.
Which is why I was pretty shocked to read a Facebook conversation between a Maltese emigrant living in London and the administrator of a page called “Reżistenza Nazzjonali (Malta)”.
The emigrant in question said:
“As a Maltese who left Malta to live in Europe, I exercise my right to live in 35 nations freely. May that right eventually grow for me to live wherever I want (just as birds do)! May that right be the same for any African who wants to go wherever!”
To which the “patriot” replied:
“then like birds coming to malta (sic.), may any of your africans (sic.), entering here illegallly(sic.), be met by led (sic.) coming out through the barrels of a thousand shotguns. hunting season is open guys.”
The administrator of the page must have probably felt quite smart with his response to the avian analogy employed by his interlocutor.
But his answer is a clear incitement to violence and hatred, the likes of which do not belong in a civilised society which needs to be protected from the “subtle African invasion” it is currently undergoing – if this page’s credo is to be taken seriously.
This supposed patriotism is nothing but a (thin) veil masking the xenophobia our island mentality breeds, which when you think of it is strange, particularly when you consider that Tripoli is closer to us than Rome is, and that Maltese is the only Semitic language written in the Latin alphabet. It is this marriage of what lies to the north and south of us that makes us truly Maltese – and a true patriot should not ignore that.
Update 14/06/2012: The post in question has since been removed; I don’t know whether it was an epiphany on behalf of the admin or a slew of reports that did it, but it’s gone. Good riddance, I say.