Most angry Facebook tirades should be ignored, hopefully to be lost in the oceanic flotsam of grand scale social media inanity. But, sometimes, only a few times, an angry Facebook tirade comes along which deserves preservation for posterity. Decades and centuries from now historians will see these rare glimpses into the chaos of our times as artefacts, latter day Rosetta Stones with which to decipher early 21st century Malta babble.
Silvio Grixti’s Facebook post this week is the key historians will need to understand what happened to Malta in the era of Joseph Muscat.
Grixti is a medical doctor and a former Labour Party MP. He resigned on the eve of the 2022 election in circumstances which, at the time, were not explained. It would later emerge that the police detained him briefly and took away his electronic equipment as part of their investigation into a massive benefit fraud scandal. The evidence heard in court against the beneficiaries points to Grixti as a principal enabler of the scheme. He has not yet been charged.
Despite being left to his own devices, Grixti appears to believe that silence is not a good strategy. That may be because he has been given reason to fear that he may be prosecuted for his role in the scheme. This seems to be making him angry.
On Facebook he wrote that the Labour government – which he used to be part of – discriminates against Labourites and in favour of Nationalists. He bases this opinion on the fact that Stephen Spiteri, the shadow health minister, was not prosecuted over allegations of handing out medical sickness certificates to patients he did not himself examine.
This meant, Grixti argued, that Spiteri, as a Nationalist, is being treated as a first-class citizen because – the former PL MP says – first-class citizens who commit crimes are not prosecuted.
On the other hand, he, Grixti, is a second-class citizen because having allegedly committed a crime... Grixti does not explicitly complete the argument but the thrust seems to be that he thinks it is unfair that he is going to be prosecuted.
I do not hold Spiteri’s brief and the MP can, if he wants to or if he thinks he can do so convincingly, make his own case for his defence. Consider instead the logic of Grixti’s argument for a moment, even if you were to take the claims he makes at face value.
So Grixti doesn’t say that he thinks Spiteri was wrong to issue medical sickness certificates to patients he did not see. The ethical issue for Grixti is not in Spiteri’s actions but in the fact that Spiteri was not prosecuted. And Grixti does not complain all that much about the fact that Spiteri was not prosecuted. Because Grixti considers Spiteri’s impunity as the treatment which is appropriate to a “first-class citizen”.
Grixti is complaining that, as a “second-class citizen”, he is being made to face prosecution for his own crimes and that – the fact that he is being prosecuted – is the ethical problem that, in his mind, justifies his anger.
Daphne Caruana Galizia summarised it in one of her more brilliant and memorable analyses published on July 3, 2015: “There is corruption everywhere in the world, literally everywhere, and at every level. The difference is that in Malta people have a corrupt attitude towards corruption. They blank it. They tolerate it.”
The post is the key historians will need to understand what happened to Malta in the era of Joseph Muscat- Manuel Delia
Not only does Grixti’s post show that the doctor is corrupt as he implicitly admits that he organised industrial scale benefit fraud by failing to even attempt to deny his involvement. It also shows that Grixti is enabled by his Facebook followers’ corrupt attitude to corruption. It is corrupt to feel any sympathy with Grixti’s claim that being made to face consequences for corruption is unfair and that the proper conduct of the state is to treat its citizens in a way that allows politicians to get away with corruption.
Grixti doesn’t merely think that everyone should be a first-class citizen enjoying impunity for their crimes like Spiteri. The doctor is no libertarian anarchist. What he’s really saying is that the proper behaviour for “our party” (Labour) is to rule the country through an impenetrable caste system: a two-tier upside-down pyramid. On top, Labourites enjoy impunity. At their feet, the remaining untouchables are whacked for getting out of line.
Would historians from future generations think this Grixti post is exceptional, unrepresentative, the loony fringe view of a man being dragged kicking and screaming by a mercilessly efficient criminal justice system? We know that’s not what’s happening here.
These ruling party sleazeballs have been playing the victims and screaming blue murder not because they have been prosecuted (Grixti hasn’t, yet) but to mobilise enough popular anger, switching on that corrupt attitude to corruption, to avoid prosecution. They want to scare the few officials in law enforcement institutions with a smidgen of a conscience left, causing them to fear the consequences to them and their families if they were to press charges despite the anger of all the indignant Labour fans.
Consider how Muscat has been tirelessly campaigning to discredit Magistrate Gabriella Vella whose job, incidentally, is not to decide on his guilt or innocence but merely to compile the evidence from the hospitals’ privatisation that she may direct is or is not used against him.
In 2017, Muscat publicly threatened then magistrate Aaron Bugeja with unspecified consequences should he have reached unpleasant conclusions in his Egrant inquiry. In 2023, Muscat tells Magistrate Vella “this is Egrant all over again”.
Grixti’s Facebook post is the bootleg copy of the highly polished Muscat get-out-of-jail rhetoric. But it’s all one speech. The social order they want is one where the laws they write only apply to the underclass crushed under their boot. In place of the rule of law, they want you to be ruled by them so they can do as they please without question. Because they’re Labour and that’s reason enough to be allowed to ignore the law.
Those future historians will see that Facebook post for what it is: the cry of the angry mid-ranking fascist throwing stones through the glass windows of our shattered democracy, even as he shouts “Malta tagħna lkoll”.