December 2011


Most of the people who claim they are against multiculturalism, in reality don’t know what the word really means. Forget the debates about cultural relativism, citizenship or whatever policy is being drafted, for them it’s the simplistic notion of “people of different cultures living in the same country”.

For the purposes of this particular blog, the word multiculturalism is referring to the simplistic definition mentioned above.

For those who claim they are “against multiculturalism”, I have bad news. You’re not going to stop it. Forget it. You can vote in as many far-right parties as you want, your hated multiculti is here to stay.

Multiculturalism has been with us since the end of time. The only thing that changed in the last few decades is that it’s happening quicker. Globalization brought with it faster and cheaper travel and communications. It doesn’t take a month to travel from Malta to Australia anymore and you can date a Chinese girl you met on the Internet. You find Turkish kebabs in Sweden and McDonalds in Iraq. So on and so forth.

All sorts of genocides and atrocities tried to stop it: all of them failed. There still are a lot of Armenians in Turkey, Jews in Germany, Serbs in Bosnia and Tutsi in Rwanda. There are ethnic, religious and cultural minorities in every country in the world.

Except for one.

The only hope for the anti-multiculti is in a land where the sun only shines if the Supreme Leader wakes up in a good mood, and where thanks to the heavily censored media the residents think the National football team had won matches when in reality it had lost. It’s a country where most people believe the Supreme Leader was miraculously born in a well, and everyone enjoys free speech as long as it involves only praise to the leader.

The Supreme Leader of this country has also protected it from your hated multiculti. Only a few thousand people enter the country each year, most of whom are diplomats. Only one tourist agency in the world can take you there, only if you leave from China after acquiring really hard to get special permits. The borders are heavily protected and if you’re a tourist you don’t really have much opportunity to meet the locals. You can’t infiltrate the country through the Internet either, because what the people have access to is decided by the Supreme Leader whom everybody loves since it’s illegal not to love him.

Nobody comes in, nobody goes out.

You want to stop multiculti? Go for it brainchild.

Just one little advice from my side if you don’t mind: The only reason the people in this single-culture paradise are not leaving is that they can’t.

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“End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others” Primary recommendation of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

I met David Caruana at a café a few months ago primarily for the reason that we share similar political beliefs, one of them being the war on drugs. There are many instances where we disagreed including on this issue. While for example, he prefers the Dutch model of legalizing cannabis, I find the Portuguese model of decriminalizing the personal use of drugs much more attractive.

One of the things struck me about David is the honesty and passion with which he discusses the issue – the kind that many politicians try to imitate but never seem to get right.

While I had assumed he probably had smoked some weed, when he told me he had a pending case on the cultivation of two cannabis plants I was shocked. Shocked, not because the person in front of me was arduous enough to go beyond cultivating tomatoes and basil, but because I knew that in Malta’s criminal code, cultivating cannabis is the equivalent of trafficking. Even if the intent of that cultivation is nothing more than personal consumption, which I know is the case here.

This came at a time when I was researching about the issue which included reading the document quoted above

http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/Report

 

Together with other literature, this document doesn’t consider drugs of whatever kind as ideal and healthy. Far from that. However it highlights how much the war on drugs has not only failed but become an added problem. When President Nixon declared the “war on drugs” it was assumed that within a few years the supply of drugs would be eradicated, globally. Unfortunately, thanks to the lack of a parallel “war on corruption” the supply of drugs not only wasn’t curbed but multiplied, reaching alarming levels Nixon could have never even predicted.

Thus the war changed. The Pablo Escobars around the world had no intention of quitting their trade, thus they bribed themselves our of it (At one point in time Escobar managed to bribe 2/3 of the Colombian parliament to change the country’s constitution so as not to permit his extradition to the US).

Helpless in front of these kingpins, a new enemy had to be found. The enemy was drug users, couriers and cultivators.* David Caruana is one of them.

I wasn’t just shocked when David told me about his pending case but also angry. Seriously angry because I knew that the main reason he will be prosecuted as a criminal with an effective prison sentence very likely is nothing more than a charade to cover up for people with Swiss accounts and villas in the Cayman islands. The ones who are pumping up the white or brown powder that’s driving an increasing number of Maltese people insane, have them commit crimes they would have never thought they’ll commit and die a premature death.

David Caruana is neither the first, nor will be the last victim of this senseless war on drug users. He is the first to go public and use his situation to highlight the faults in our system though. And for that he’s definitely got my full admiration.

*I still agree that those who carry or cultivate drugs for the consumption of others should be considered as committing a criminal offense. However, as the Global Commission report suggests the extremely harsh sentences these people are punished with is nothing more than a need to find a scapegoat.

The first word I heard when visiting Block B in the detention centre for migrants at Safi was “Freedom”. Which, as Col Brian Gatt had informed us beforehand, is the first word any visitor hears as soon as he approaches the immigrants.

Though we didn’t visit the warehouses where the conditions are worse especially due to overcrowding, the inmates at Block B didn’t complain about the conditions they were kept in. Miles away from a one star hotel, but the atmosphere wasn’t tense. The relationship between the officers and the detainees also looked very positive, and it is clear that Col Gatt is looked at as both a person in authority as well as someone who deserves respect.

What struck me was their reaction to the amount of time they have to remain detained. I expected anger towards this aspect, and while there was a certain amount of anger, what was clear from what they said and their body language is a sense of awe. They simply couldn’t understand why they were being detained for so long (18 months).

I tried to be honest with the detainees as much as I could. I told them that we were a small political party and the only party in Malta that suggests a 6 month maximum detention period, rather than the irrational 18 months. While I promised we’ll keep on insisting on the more reasonable 6 month maximum, this wasn’t likely to change any time soon.

I also tried to explain the reason why. First of all that since they entered the country in an irregular manner they needed to be monitored. Quite reluctantly they understood this. But why for so long?

The truth is that up to a decade ago, one would barely see a black person in Malta. Unlike most other Western European countries most black people entered the country as asylum seekers, on boats, sometimes in large numbers. This created a sense of shock, not necessarily racism but while we have our fair share of racists, it was more a question of fearing what was new, things we hadn’t been exposed to before – in this case, seeing a substantial amount of black people in Malta

I tried to explain that it is this was caused automatic and long term detention. That the hysteria that was felt in the country in 2002 has decreased a lot since Maltese people now meet immigrants on a day to day basis and know them personally. Also, that detention gives the Maltese people a sense of safety that what is yet “unknown” is being closely monitored.

Some understood, others didn’t. “No one was a afraid when we saw the first white people in Nigeria”, one immigrant told me.

That is what I told them. Unfortunately, there is more.

I didn’t tell them that since 2002, Malta has seen the birth of two extreme right movement, who aside to the lunatic ramblings, also decided to contest elections (one of them Alleanza Nazzjonali has by now closed shop, the other, Imperium Evropa has actually went further extreme and intends to finish what Hitler didn’t).

In order not to cause any agitation I refrained from telling them that the only reason they were being detained for so long is that both government and opposition lack balls and are afraid that they lose some votes to the remaining extreme right party if they dare rock the boat.

That their real fear is not that black people let loose will become werewolves, but that a hallucinating neo-Nazi gathers his few, but fanatically loyal followers, tell them that the blacks were let loose to rape their women and eat their babies – and then, contest elections.

What I did tell them is that what we, the Greens are asking for is not abolishing the monitoring of people who enter Malta in an irregular manner. I explained that some time in detention (maximum 6 months) is necessary. That the monitoring should go on after the immigrant is released through regular signing at police stations and mandatory health checks.

What we are proposing is nothing more than common sense, humane and cost efficient. The only reason these people are being detained for so long is that both government and opposition lack balls.