At some point on my Facebook news feed last night, when emotions and passions were running high, I read that there were people honking their horns in celebration that Dom Mintoff has died.
If this is true, it is truly pathetic. The man is no longer with us, so if anything, a blaring of horns can only be meant to wound his surviving relatives. Should they be to blame for Mintoff’s style of politics? In matters of illness and death, I feel that if you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.
I was no fan of Mintoff and disagreed with him on many issues; like many of my generation I missed out on going to University at the age when I should have because of his cockeyed educational policies. I eventually enrolled later on, as so many of my age group did, at the first opportunity in 1986.
So yes, I can empathize with those who suffered at the hands of the political discrimination and violence which scarred the last years of the Mintoff era, but in the end, this continued festering hatred is getting us nowhere. We went through all this when the Dear Dom documentary was released, and now inevitably, until the State funeral takes place, we are going to go through it all again.
His loyal supporters will idiolise him more than ever (for them he will always be the untouchable icon who lifted the working classes from abject poverty) while those who despise him will relish this moment that they (apparently) have been waiting for all their lives.
And it is this vicious malice which I find difficult to fathom: how do you let one man dictate your life to the extent that he has such power over you even though he stepped down from Prime Minister in 1984? Because, like it or not, harbouring such visceral hatred is giving him power.
It is like a woman who has left her abusive husband but continues to obsess about him, and plot her revenge against him until the day he dies. Conversely, to continue this analogy, when such a woman completely ignores her ex-husband, cuts him out of her life and is indifferent to what he is doing, it is then that she can truly be free of him psychologically.
With his passing, the Mintoff chapter should be finally closed. But, as long as people continue to hate him with such fervour, they will ironically be helping to keep his legacy alive.
And finally, there is also a lesson to be learnt here about adulating politicians. For I have always felt that if he had not been turned into an almost sacred figure by his supporters, Mintoff would not have been allowed to become the quasi-dictator that he became in his last years of power.
We vote them in, we vote them out – but in the end, no matter how great, they are mere mortals like the rest of us, and no politician should be treated like a demi-god.