Pia Zammit – actor, educator, activist – was photographed backstage during a break at an onstage performance of ‘Allo! ‘Allo! She was wearing a swastika on top of the costume of a French barmaid who pretends to be nice to Wehrmacht officers but secretly helps la résistance sabotage the German occupation and hide British airmen trapped behind enemy lines.
Of course, the character she played is also implicated in a rogue attempt by German officers to hide the painting of a particularly busty virgin rolled up in a sausage so they could share the fortune after the wall. All the time while having an affair with the café host and handle an undercover English spy who pretends to be a civilian policeman and has convinced himself he speaks French.
Only one thing is clear in this English stab at a French farce: that nothing is what it seems.
But some months ago, someone at it-Torċa, that is owned by a trade union that claims a red-flag waving industrial-heartland Fabian heritage, assumed that Pia Zammit with a swastika was indeed what it seemed and branded the woman a Nazi. She sued for libel because even though Pia Zammit is not herself owned by a trade union that claims a red-flag waving industrial heartland Fabian heritage, she does not appreciate being called a Nazi.
She sued it-Torċa and she sued a certain Sergio Galea Vincenti who also took the picture at face value and assumed Pia Zammit was a Nazi.
Now read his sober apology to Pia Zammit.
Excellent. But we’re not done yet. The libel suit against it-Torċa is still ongoing. It-Torċa still thinks it was fair game to brand Pia Zammit a Nazi. My guess is they know full well she isn’t one. Beyond the photo they have no corroborating evidence to suggest she may be even a half-hearted sympathiser. Quite the contrary she campaigns for press freedom, for equality, for the independence of institutions, for the dignity of migrants: hardly the breakfast of a brown-shirt.
The fact is that in its short-term desire to hurt the reputation of campaigners in the way of the government they support, it-Torċa abandon their duty of smoking out the real Nazis. Because Nazis are here, they’re real and we need to speak about those among us who preach hatred, distinction, discrimination and prejudice.
I am especially furious at people who ought to know better who listen to speeches by the crop that is replacing the now senile Norman Lowell and say, with a crack in their voice, that there was “nothing wrong” in the speech they heard.
I think we need to explain something to people. When you see films of speeches of Adolf Hitler screaming and shouting in German as an enthusiastic crowd applauds hysterically he is also not saying “anything wrong”.
You will not read English subtitles under an Adolf Hitler speech saying things like “we’ll take your disabled children from your arms and inject them with poison … we’ll put all the Jews on trains and push them with bayonets into gas chambers … we’ll burn homosexuals in furnaces … we’ll kill 25 million Russians so that Germans can move to their farms … we’ll bomb London to the ground”. No one would have applauded such madness.
Instead he was saying things like “why should German people suffer more than others? This is not fair and we should stand up for our rights. We have a great history: so, there’s no reason why we should be humiliated … let’s make Germany great again … poor German people working on our borders are harassed by migrants who should keep to their place … let’s make our border with Poland safe and the Poles should pay for it.” And so on.
“Nothing wrong” is just the wrong idea because the far-right is not going to describe to you the consequences of their policies, merely their desirability.
We have our own Nazis who are saying “nothing wrong”. Listen to this 18 year old African-baiting prodigy.
In the meantime, these people are creating fear of things that do not exist. There is no overwhelming invasion. No one is forced out of their job because there are migrants among us. No one has been squeezed out of their house because migrants have taken it over. We are not being bred out of existence. Our culture continues to thrive. Migrants are learning Maltese and the Maltese are not learning Swahili, Igbo, Hausa or Fulani though it wouldn’t hurt them if they did.
A fear is being propagated out of conjured paranoia which will then create the legitimacy needed for the violence these people wish to perpetrate.
Resisting the far-right is a duty of all democratic parties and ideas. There are communists and socialists and greens and liberals and conservatives and libertarians on the spectrum. But in the matter of human dignity and basic rights there are only two legitimate political realities: fascist or anti-fascist.
It-Torċa needs to stop being a Simon Wiesenthal parody and join forces with people it does not like. A good start would be to laugh at Nazis. They hate ‘Allo! ‘Allo! But they can next write about the people who sport no swastikas in backstage photos but who are a real danger.
It-Torċa should remember. They first came for the socialists.