Ah, but the lesbians were white and Maltese (and being gay is fashionable, but being black is not)
Over the past few weeks, we have had lots of talk about ‘hate crimes’ from the chattering classes which populate our newsrooms and our political parties. This after two young women were punched by a couple of teenage rednecks in Hamrun, surviving to live another day.
We have had umpteen updates from The Times about the ‘lesbian attack’, with step by step information each time a court hearing is postponed or somebody squeaks. It’s lesbian attack this and lesbian attack that, practically every other week. And the Labour Party, never one to miss a trundling bandwagon without hitching a ride, has used the opportunity to spout off about hate crimes. You know, because it is the resident expert in peace and love.
Then a real, proper, stark and scary hate crime occurs and it’s just another day down at the newsrooms and the political mill. An African refugee, whose former work colleagues described as a sunny, positive personality to whom they would turn for advice, is assaulted in Paceville and found unconscious on the ground with severe head injuries. He dies a few days later.
Do we get headlines screaming ‘black attack death’ (in what is now The Times’s parlance)? Do we get the usual suspect reporters trawling the usual suspect politicians for their views on hate crimes, racism and the status of black people in Malta?
Do we have a protest march in Paceville, like the protest march in Hamrun, with politicians jostling up against each other to be seen, noted and photographed?
Do we hell.
Yes, The Times went out of its way to interview friends and former colleagues of 26-year-old Osama Al Shzliaoy, the Sudanese man in question, but the tone of the pieces is very much ‘Oh, this cute and cuddly man has died; he may have been black, but boy, was he nice.’
There is absolutely no sense of outrage that this should have happened at all, no questioning of why it is happening, no attempt at piecing together information that makes for an ugly picture.