There has been no bigger blemish in modern European history than World War II. The suffering that was endured by so many did not only lay the foundations for the structure of the European Union of today but it indelibly defined Europe and its culture.
In every secondary school in almost every European country, children are urged to go through books depicting pages and pages of emaciated-looking, broken people. We are forced to look at how easy it is to dehumanise others and how fragile the bonds between us are. Above all, we are implored to never forget.
Three years ago I visited Auschwitz, the air around me so thick with sadness and suffering that I almost reeled from the emotion I felt. I saw the piles of shoes which would never find their way back to their owners’ feet and the stacks of broken glasses which their owners would never rummage around for in the dark. I saw all this and I wept because there was simply no question of doing or feeling anything else and yet in 2019, Mr Norman Lowell has had the audacity (if you can even call it that) to call this same place the ‘Disneyland of Poland’.
On reading some of the things he has openly said, you would be forgiven for thinking that we were living in Alabama in 1906: he has described “breeding with blacks” to be a sacrilege to nature, has instructed us to kill babies born with disabilities and simultaneously defended Adolf Hitler while maintaining that the Holocaust is a hoax and yet, despite this, he has registered 1.2 per cent of the support of respondents in MaltaToday’s latest survey. I don’t think I could be more worried if I tried.
Of course, there will be many people teeming to point out that the far right has long started to show its face again in most of Europe, but in our case, I’m not sure this despicable way of looking at others ever took a holiday, however brief. Small and vulnerable to attackers, we may have had reason to be suspicious of outsiders up to 100 years ago but you would think that all the free schooling our taxes have been paying for would have left some sort of impact on the collective psyche.
I’m going to say it once for the cheap seats at the back: Racism in whatever shape or form is always wrong. There is simply no excuse for it, and even less of a place for it in the modern world. Immigrants and refugees (the main targets for Lowell and his supporters) are not here because they had nothing better to do on a sunny Sunday; they are here because their situation back home was one where their lives and that of their children were being held in the balance.
It is entirely beyond me why anyone should hate an entire race of people based on something as wholly inconsequential as colour, particularly when many of the Maltese would hardly qualify as ‘white’ in the Anglo-Saxon understanding of the term and have themselves been subject to racism and discrimination in many of the territories they immigrated to in the not so distant 1950s and 1960s.
Of course, if you cannot find it in your heart not to vote for our lovely far-right ranter because you too are essentially racist, then I’m really hoping that you too believe his missive “that only stupid Maltese people are having babies”. That way we can at least be rid of this mess by the next generation. A girl can dream.
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