While the self-styled “Resist” movement in the United States is fond of declaring Donald Trump is “literally Hitler” and fancies itself as taking a brave stance against looming oppression, it’s clear the outspoken critics of the president aren’t actually worried about consequences–which is a very good thing. After all, how would an actual tyrant react to Web pages like this one? Or this? In reality, and on balance, Trump seems to be more interested in restoring constitutional limits on the executive than dismantling them, which was more a specialty of his predecessor.
But amidst the overheated rhetoric among the President’s critics here, it’s worth remembering what actual bravery looks like.
Earlier this week, in European Union state member Malta, investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered by car bomb as she was leaving her home. Caruana Galizia was one of the Maltese government’s most outspoken critics, regularly lambasting corruption and malfeasance among senior officials and highlighting their connections to shady businessmen. This was a political assassination intended to silence that critical voice. The U.K.’s Guardian newspaper wrote a good background piece on the killing. (Full disclosure: I’ve met Daphne, though I didn’t know her well.)
To their great credit, Caruana Galizia’s family is refusing to be intimidated by the attack. Her three sons have released the following statement – a slap in the face to the politicians now trying to score PR points off the murder of their mother:
After a day of unrelenting pressure from the President and Prime Minister of Malta for what’s left of our family to endorse a million-euro reward for evidence leading to the conviction of our mother’s assassins, this is what we are compelled to say.
We are not interested in justice without change. We are not interested in a criminal conviction only for the people in government who stood to gain from our mother’s murder to turn around and say that justice has been served. Justice, beyond criminal liability, will only be served when everything that our mother fought for – political accountability, integrity in public life and an open and free society – replaces the desperate situation we are in.
The government is interested in only one thing: its reputation and the need to hide the gaping hole where our institutions once were. This interest is not ours. Neither was it our mother’s. A government and a police force that failed our mother in life will also fail her in death. The people who for as long as we can remember sought to silence our mother cannot now be the ones to deliver justice.
The police may or may not find out who ordered the assassination of our mother but as long as those who led the country to this point remain in place, none of it will matter – the name of the person who did this will remain a footnote in the history of how our state was dismantled, taken apart piece by piece and devoured by the criminal and the corrupt.
The Prime Minister asked for our endorsement. This is how he can get it: show political responsibility and resign. Resign for failing to uphold our fundamental freedoms. Resign for watching over the birth of a society dominated by fear, mistrust, crime and corruption. Resign for working to cripple our mother financially and dehumanise her so brutally and effectively that she no longer felt safe walking down the street. And before resigning he can make his last act in government the replacement of the Police Commissioner and Attorney General with public servants who won’t be afraid to act on evidence against him and those he protects.
Then we won’t need a million-euro reward and our mother wouldn’t have died in vain.
When your mother has just been assassinated by car bomb, this is a brave statement to make. And it’s a reminder what real government intimidation and the silencing of critics looks like.