World refugee day was last month and there has already been an excellent post on the topic. But in view of the very recent developments on our tiny, friendly Malta where we welcome everyone with open arms (provided they are fair skinned and, preferably, blue eyed), I thought another go at it would not go amiss.
I must admit life has been keeping me rather occupied lately and I have not been following the news on a regular basis. However, when yesterday at work, at home and in the evening everyone was discussing the whole sorry story of how the most recent lot of illegal immigrants were going to be sent back and Europe stepped in to stop it from happening, I had to go look up the news and catch up. You all know the details of the story so I won’t waste your time with it. Instead I’ll present you with two aspects of the lively discussions I was involved in yesterday.
As you’d expect there are those adamantly in favour of sending the refugees back. I am thankful to say that most of those I was with don’t want to send the refugees back because they are taking over Malta or because most of them are Muslim, but rather because Malta can’t cope with the influx and Europe is not doing much to help. But as one of us said – there are hundreds of Russians and Eastern Europeans in Malta, working in hotels and clubs and the like and nobody complains about them. Yes they have their paperwork all in order, but they are still here ‘taking the jobs of the Maltese’ as people are prone to say whenever the question of illegal immigrants crops up. Ah, but you see, someone said, the Russians and Eastern Europeans are fair skinned, and most of them have blue eyes, so they blend in and people simply admire their hair and eye colour. Sounds silly, but I bet those reading this blog who are about my age remember growing up in an environment where fair hair and blue eyes made you pretty and having unusually dark skin made you a ‘miskin’. At least in the villages down south it did. And this I believe is what it all boils down to. A number of us have racist tendencies, maybe drummed into us with all the history we learnt of how tiny Malta withstood the power of the Ottoman Empire. With the help of the Knights, of course, but we don’t boast of the Knights, we boast of the courageous Maltese fighting the dreadful Turk. And so we have an ingrained anti-semitic streak that at times is difficult to overcome.
As the previous blogger said, these people have gone through hell to cross Northern Africa and the Mediterranean Sea to land here, with the very real risk of dying in the process. No one would pass through hell unless desperately trying to escape from hell. And what do these people have to look forward to? Some of them are doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers … and they come here to first be locked away in a detention camp and then, when let out, they can look forward to a future of work as refuse collectors, street sweepers, builders, painters … all for the glorious income of a few Euros. A salary which no Maltese would accept for jobs which many Maltese don’t want to do.