The first time I visited Ellis Island I came across this electronic map of the 51 States, which included some 150 ethnicities to choose from, including Maltese.
Once you choose the origin of your choice, numbers light up on each of the states, indicating how many people pertaining to that ethnicity are registered in the state. Needless to say, there are Maltese registered in every one of the 51, some in large numbers – New York, Michigan, California, Illinois etc. – others less so, e.g. Alaska: 13.
The Maltese are a MIGRATING PEOPLE, and have always been. Apart from the fact that there probably is a sizeable dose of inherent nomadism in the national DNA, the size and obvious limited resources of these islands have obliged the Maltese to search elsewhere for a better, more dignified life since time immemorial – Sometimes in pockets and other times in waves. You will find Maltese anywhere and everywhere in the world, from Melbourne to Maui, from the Transvaal to Tromso and all elsewhere in between.
The Maltese are one of the most clear examples of racial and cultural cross-fertilization… a process that is in a constant state of flux. We hail from everywhere, at some point down the line, and continue to inseminate our race and culture across the globe, albeit to a proportional degree. No one can contest the fact, either, that some oft-hidden nationalistic streak inside us does a little jump for patriotic joy when some newspaper article or other focuses on a seventh or eighth generation Malteser who’s become the mayor of a pueblo the size of San Lawrenz in Northern Peru and can STILL say ‘I like a hot cheesecake’ in perfectly-flawed Maltese! It’s what we do.We’re proud that pockets of Malta, however faded with time, still thrive elsewhere.
Which brings me to my quandary. Why, then, are we so intolerant and hateful of certain other migrating peoples who are simply doing what the Maltese have been doing for millennia? What is so wrong with showing just a smidgen of the compassion afforded to our forebears and contemporaries when they upped sticks and tried to start a new life in an alien land?
And for those who do, somehow, weave into this ever-evolving fabric that is Maltese society, why do we object so vehemently at each attempt to retain some facet of their roots alive?
Contradictions and sweet hypocrisy have always been a fascinating aspect of life on this Rock. Sometimes, though, it just doesn’t cut it.
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