In the Bible, God tested Abraham’s loyalty by asking him to kill his only son, Isaac.
Abraham duly obeyed, and when it came to actually carrying out the act to strike down his one and only son, an angel intervened. The angel allowed him to sacrifice a ram in Isaac’s place. People are expected to do terrible things out of loyalty, especially in the absence of free thought.
If we take the angel to be actual justice and common sense, then the situation is not so different with Victor Vella, editor-in-chief of L-Orizzont and It-Torċa. His conscience stood in the way of his loyalty. Or so it would seem. After all, these newspapers should be independent of the Labour Party, and they should represent the real interests of the workers. That was Victor Vella’s modern sin – his principled stand.
How long can a loyal person be pressured before they break? How credible can a newspaper or news portal be if all they churn is propaganda? How can dissenting * voices express their dissent? How long is it before a free-thinking soul in this country loses their income and gets banned from the mainstream, hurried off-stage as an inconvenience to the real powers that rule this country through their money?
I experienced it all myself. It happened almost two years ago. A lie was spun about me and my employers tried to fire me from my job. The lie was that I had mentioned the school in which I worked in one of my Absnews videos. Therefore, according to them, I was shaming them. However, the 30 000 people who watched the video never heard anything of the sort. So of course, I won my case and kept my job. Here I am today with over onehundred videos and I am going strong. Nonetheless, the anguish they made me go through, and the psychological duress from having the eyes of my superiors on me 24/7 was all unbearable. Then Covid turned everything upside down, and events took me out of that situation of their own accord.
We have seen famous satirical pages like Bis-serjeta targeted by a Minister, attempting to shame and expose a satirist. Pastizziposting, Malta’s most popular meme group on Facebook has been shut down several times after thin-skinned trolls and party diehards reported it for attacking their precious politicians. The writing is on the wall – literally! If Malta wants blind and unquestioning loyalty, then it seems we can just stick with ONE and NET. However, Malta needs more than that. Malta needs dissent. Our democracy requires critics. Without criticism, we cannot grow, and we are seeing this with the Nationalist Party in shambles and the Labour Party showing its cracks as few dare to challenge the money-driven agenda that makes a mockery of their social principles.
What is it that people want?
With a good twenty percent of the electorate trusting neither of the two parties in Parliament, one would come to the conclusion that people are angry and that therefore, they want somebody to voice their anger. A good chunk of the population wants somebody passionate to recognise what they are going through, and what they are going through hardly reflects the best of times that they were promised, with the overdevelopment frenzy ongoing, amongst many other things besides.
Our politicians must be kept on their toes, and not allowed to become complacent because of bootlicking and empty praise. We have had enough people telling them “Prosit Ministru”. There is nothing democratic about bowing to power – it is the politicians who should be serving us.
ADPD Deputy Secretary General
Published in The Malta Independent – Wednesday 23 February 2022