Emmanuel Navarro, bless him, posted in reference to Roberta Metsola’s remarks that she should not need to defend herself from the accusation of being a traitor. She argued it is no treason to criticise your government: it is a patriotic duty, particularly when faced with the sort of consequences the exercise of fundamental rights and duties in this country is hit with.
Here’s his post.
Translation: “All of you. Particularly you (Roberta Metsola). You’re a traitor to your country. You don’t merely deserve to be condemned. We burn you alive, you dung”.
Go to his Facebook page. In front of a loving family picture he posts the kitsch motto “Love. Light. Kindness” complete with matching pink hearts. He has a family he loves but he thinks Roberta Metsola should be burnt alive. And he’s willing to say so in full public view.
This is an extent of hate that Daniel Johan Goldhagen studied in his seminal Hitler’s Willing Executioners when he tried to understand why ordinary train-drivers and little old ladies in tenements collaborated with the holocaust.
I’m not saying anyone is getting trains east ready for Nationalist politicians of a certain breed. I’m saying that the open discourse in our community has reached unbearable and extremely dangerous levels. That the dehumanisation and demonisation of the other has reached extents that allow people to think of other people as less than human and therefore less deserving of life.
This is the environment for violence. This psychological violence is harmful enough. Roberta Metsola shrugs this sort of thing off. But I shudder to think what her parents, her husband and her children feel.
Yet we need to look beyond the intimidation this causes, although it most certainly does that. It scares people off from making a contribution to our community because this sort of feedback is entirely expected. Some people may feel strong enough to face it but would ultimately give up out of fear of what it might visit on their family.
Beyond the intimidation, lies the actual groundwork for retribution. If enough people agree that a subset of the community deserves to be hurt, or even killed, someone will step in and do it.
It is obvious to anyone willing to face reality that this is exactly what enabled Daphne Caruana Galizia’s killing. The hate has not subsided. It has aggravated. It is also obvious that in the midst of the pervasive misogyny that comes so naturally to many men, the small number of women in Maltese politics are targeted with even greater vehemence.
I am not entirely certain how seeped into history Mr Navarro is. But his choice of execution for Roberta Metsola is at least influenced by the inherited image of witches burning at the stake.
Women in our political environment suffer disproportionate psychological violence. Sure, men get unfairly attacked as well. But our own “willing executioners” are not equal opportunity haters.