Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

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I cannot tell the difference between American politicians in red soccer gear and those in blue baseball gear.  Besides, I am apolitical, so I take whatever they say at face value, not because they belong to this persuasion or the other party.

All I can say is that since America is a little larger than Malta, they have ample opportunities to learn from us, and then, perhaps inevitably since they are politicians, expound upon ‘our’ mistakes and pepper them with Americanisms.

We all know what happens when you pass something through non-human translators, and then render it back to its original language.  The chances are that it’s the same when Maltese politicians look at the result of their original actions, and try to shrink them back to Maltese dimensions.

Let us therefore, just in time for the Local Council Elections campaign, examine the wonderful opportunities that are simply waiting to be set into motion locally.

Random Example # 1: Anthony Federico showed off his knowledge of idiom and used the expression “Chink in the armor”.  The only snag is that he used it in connection with New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, who is, in fact, Chinese.

Federico said he did not make the connection; and yet the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) fired him because the connection was deemed racist and derogatory.

Since  foreigners playing for Maltese teams locally tend to be African or European, rather than Chinese, our witty politicos will have to  think, instead,  of all the place-names in Malta which can be used in both English and Maltese puns. At a pinch, there are also idioms that mention specific towns and villages that could be used to great effect.

Random Example #2: Newt Gingrich took his foot out of his mouth long enough to state “…If the NAACP [ National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.” Here, it is being assumed that only black people rely on food stamps.

Black people in Malta tend to be refugees and we are fully aware of their plans to take over the nation and get voted into Parliament and then… what? But be can also have another take on this story and focus the spotlight on single parents – or rather, single mothers, instead.  Are they not the only people who play the welfare system locally? After all, we all know, don’t we, that in this fair land, there are no single mothers who work diligently to provide their offspring with money that comes out of a pay check from a white-collar job, do we not?

Random Example #3: A “Food Police Officer” decides that a child’s brown paper bag lunch is “a fail”.  She is told (yes, told) that she must eat chicken nuggets to bring the meal up to scratch. Now when an adult says that your mother did something wrong, it is already something terrible. But this incident is also about how a brown bread turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, and a few crisps, and a carton apple juice did not qualify as a healthy lunch.

Jani Kozlowski, the fiscal and statutory policy manager for the Division of Child Development, say that in fact, the lunch would have covered the protein, grain and dairy obtaining in the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; it is stipulated that a meal must include a vegetable or a fruit, and not necessarily both.  Did I mention that parents would have to pay for anything the child is given? So, let’s all give out schoolchildren ‘healthy breakfasts. Cereal, milkshake, and prepared fruit salad ought to do it. Wait. This has already happened once or twice; but it’s not polite to look a gift horse in the mouth, is it?

Random Example #4: Women are sometimes careless about their (sexual) health, and forgo visits to the clinic. Not because it’s a question of time, or money, but because they just cannot be bothered to check out every single pain or discharge. And besides, random partners make for more UTIs and STDs and unwanted pregnancies. The solution is simple: just mandate that everyone is covered for everything – mammograms, gestational diabetes,  birth control, breast-feeding support, smear tests, and even, if needs must – because “accidents happen” – all FDA approved birth control methods, which include “the morning-after pill”.

Oh, joy. As a corollary, this would, by some marvellous reckoning of logic, (eventually) do away with the other type of spongers and scroungers; deadbeat dads who never give their partner enough money to get by, let alone have something extra for health checks. So what if some types of birth control methods are known to trigger certain conditions?  So what if certain strata of the population do not use contraception because their lifestyle makes it unnecessary. Like the aforementioned sugar- and fat- and additive-laden breakfasts, it’s “free”.

Or is there no such thing as a free lunch?

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Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

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