According to the Times yesterday's ANR protest had a "poor turnout". Around 200 persons marched up Republic Street chanting "Viva Malta Viva Malta hej hej hej". They would have been better placed had they chosen to beef up the dwindling crowds that follow our national team's stuttering performances at ta' Qali. At least their chant would not have gone to waste and might have kindled some much needed enthusiasm for "it-tim li huwa ta' kullhadd".
As it happens they were marching for another cause. Their idea of patriotism involves saveguarding the national identity from foreign invaders. They are worried that it is an invasion not just immigration. Their spokespersons spoke out against the Europe that sends us rice and pasta and that therefore must "think we are Ethiopians". Funny, I would have thought that a nice plate of ross il-forn (oven baked rice) and spaghetti biz-zalza tal-fenek (pasta with rabbit sauce) would have made any patriot's tongue drool. I am sure that it is much more appetising to the Maltese Volk (yes some contributors on their site refer to the Maltese nation as such) than a plate of sauerkraut. What was sour was the agenda. A speech of vitriolic accusations against the mass media that apparently twists their message and makes them sound like racists rather than patriots.
Mr Salomone, one of the more rhetorical of the bunch, refused Peppi Azzopardi's invitation to answer his accusations. He preferred to issue the threat of "Issa tigi tieghek" (Yours will come next). He also asked for Saviour Balzan. Salomone apparently relishes the idea of wrapping an edition of Maltatoday around Saviour's neck. And he is not shy or scared to say that in public.
But they are not violent. They are genuinely worried about the future and safety of the Maltese nation. And they are prepared to use any means to get that. Even if it involves rabid attacks on all those who disagree with them.
What worries me is the complacency about their low turnout. Of course many people had much more to do than walk down Republic Street chanting Viva Malta. This does not lessen the fact that the feelings that ANR and Lowell's merry band feed on are much more widespread among the people. The discontent, the angry and the downright pissed off will easily turn to ANR and Co as a pressure valve. They are in urgent need of alternative visions, alternative solutions. They are in need of solutions that do not appear on Washington Post videos talking of "blacks" who bring diseases and take work from the hand of the Maltese.
They need intelligent solutions. They need bright ideas. This is definitely no time for complacency. Roll up those sleeves and get typing.