November 15, 2015

Men in Black

Men dressed in black shooting indiscriminately, young people fleeing in terror, some leaving trails of blood behind them – broken bodies dangling from windows three stories above the street. People fleeing and trampling over the dead trying to escape the line of fire… Is this the latest Dan Brown novel? No, this happened yesterday in Paris and was the second attack in less than a year.

I sometimes get the impression that the majority of people have become desensitized to footage of fellow human beings being slaughtered in the middle of a major European city. Modern technology allows us to video people trying to flee whilst the terrorists take pot shots at them. One such video showed a young man limping leaving a trail of blood behind him, another was very bravely pulling along the body of another of the fallen. Young women were hanging from windows by the tips of their fingers and others were crying for help in the most unimaginable distress. When exactly will enough be enough?  Not since World War II has there been a time when Europe needs to stand united and legislate new laws that give utmost protection to the bona fide immigrants and take to task those who are here just to incite violence, thinking that they can impose their archaic and often barbaric way of life upon us Europeans. Some might argue (at least in the case of France) that the hatred is born and bred at home and the attackers might be holding French passports. Well in the latter case new laws have to be passed with haste to allow the government to strip citizenship and take all the necessary precautions and actions to extrapolate these evil human beings from society permanently. Something has to change and something has to give but will it?

Nor is it a problem exclusive to Europe. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq etc. and no these acts are not less serious because they happen to happen “there.” Scores of videos showing decapitation of anyone who doesn’t agree with their barbaric ideology, children shot point blank and/or buried alive, the rape of countless women, the selling of young girls in slave markets and all this in 2015. Need I continue? Isn’t it high time that the Western World takes a no nonsense approach and sends a clear message to the perpetrators and those who support them. Yes we do know who they are. We have known for years but they are “allies” so we cannot really do anything about it or so we think. Just google Clinton Wiki Leaks and those who are uninformed are in for quite a nasty surprise. Then again I might be out of my depth discussing the above – I am sure there are those who will say as much and they would probably be right. However there is one thing I know very well – our entertainment. We do take the latter very seriously in the West and it is ingrained in our culture…

Many will ask  why I am bothering to write “off topic” and how this is relevant to classical music. Oh, but it is very relevant and this recent attack could indeed mark the end of live performances, theatre, cinemas etc. Hyperbole? Think about it – how many attacks will it take in Europe for people to start avoiding theatres, stadiums and restaurants? Few other venues lend themselves better to be used as a platform for mass carnage than a space where hundreds of people sit in close proximity to each other whilst they enjoy themselves with their guard let down. Make no mistake, these terrorists new exactly what they were doing and they drove the stake right at the heart of one of the world’s most beautiful cosmopolitan cities. I am afraid to say that if such an attack would happen in Malta it would wipe tourism out for months if not years, crippling the industry altogether. Globally change for the worse has already happened. How many opera productions were modified, changed or dropped altogether because it “might” offend some minority or other? I am also guilty of the latter – in the 2012 proms I wanted to dress as a Knight of Malta but had second thoughts after someone pointed out to me that it would be seen as a provocation by some since it evoked memories of the crusades! For crying out loud,  it is the year 2015 and some living with us in the streets of London and Paris seem to think that the price for Blasphemy should be death – think Charlie Hebdo and the Scandinavian incidents. A simple youtube search will serve you with an alarming number of results of some of these “protests” and some of the “messages” conveyed during such rallies.

What is sure is that something  has to change and something has to give. We can’t ignore helping the genuine refugees who are fleeing this exact same massacres in their troubled lands but we can’t continue to succumb to pressure to give up our way of life or our own security at the same time. It is a very tough act to balance. A no nonsense approach with  people who refuse to integrate or are trouble makers strikes me as a very civil, fair and logical solution to the plight Europe is facing.  Yes, we need to take serious action against those who hate our way of life and we would have the full support of the real Muslim moderates who are escaping that way of life anyway. Think of the Australian model – they seem to handle this nonsense in a concise and strong way.

Priorities must be put in the right order. Mediterranean is in turmoil  with scores of men, women and children drowning and washing up on beaches, hundreds of thousands fleeing persecution and certain death from countries like Iraq and Syria, the ever growing threat of global terrorism and an ever growing dangerous far right movement in the Western world, yet what some want us to worry about in Malta is whether a Muslim woman can wear a “Niqab” or “Burka” in public. This mollycoddling and fake liberalism has to stop. These absolutely ridiculous requests and expectations have to be ignored and focus must be directed to the issues that matter.

I am inclined to think that a family of refugees fleeing the threat of beheadings, rape, slavery and wanton murder would not be concerned about Christian symbolism such as Father Christmas, Baby Jesus and the occasional cross. It is neither racist nor bigoted to be proud of our way of life. We don’t have to change for anyone and the real, moderate Muslims will appreciate and embrace the new culture that took them in and they will be thankful that they are in a safe place where they can go about their business in peace.





  1. Liz Bright-Turner

    It’s time for us to close our borders and prevent ‘people’ entering international waters for our own protection.Our country is no longer safe.What a sad state of affairs!

  2. Richie Curmi

    Thank you Joseph,
    It is what many level thinking people want. A reality check. Extreme liberalism is not wanted anymore, or else it is being pushed because an agenda of some sort is being fomented. I can see no other reason for this wanton destruction of our way of life. Moderation is the key to everything we do in life. Please help us reason the truth. Your word is as strong as that of a million persons. Peace,and keep inspiring us.

    Kind Regards


  3. Maryrose

    We need more thinkers like this… it’s logical and well-argued.

  4. Thomas Bond

    You ask.”How many attacks will it take in Europe for people to start avoiding theater” If this continues and nothing is done about it..(.as I understand it, even China is getting into the act against ISIS.” People World Wide will be afraid to go anywhere.

  5. Carlos Alfonso

    I agree with you essentially. As Europeans we have to act firmly against the islamist terrorism, not being encumbered by the that nonsense of the political correctness. Our European Democratic societies have nothing to be ashamed of. And not for being mainly Christinsns, but because they are Democratic heirsnew of Enlightment and of the political ideals of the French Revolution. We must not change our way of life. But to face the terrible challenge of this kind of terrorism, we better don’t make the mistake of believe that this is a war between the Islamic world and the Western world. It is not. This is war, yes, a terrorist war between an army of terrorists who happen to profess a fanatical brand of the Muslim faith, and a against the rest of the world, the majority of Muslim people included. In fact, the overwhelming majority of victims of these terrorist has been fellow Muslims. Moreover this is a very complex and unconventional war. The enemies are not (not all of them at least) foreign people living in distant countries. Many of the terrorist are European born and raised fellows ( in Spain we know that fact only too well). In fact many are our countrymen. We should no forget this fact, and we must’n turn against all the Muslims living in Europe because that would be unfair ( most of them are peaceful, decent people ) and would be an Illadvised move. Our governments and ours policies need the collaboration of our muslim countrymen in order to infiltrate into those criminal organizations and destroy them. That would be an efficient weapon against that kind of terrorism. In order to fight efficiently against it all the European governments should be united and coordinated, because this is a global threat. But any action agreed upon should be respectful of the Human Rights because this is our western Democratic trademark. If the terrorists get us to lose this trademark, wathever the circumstances, then they will attain is goal.

  6. Gill

    Once again, you have expressed my own thoughts much more succinctly than I could have done. I do hope your blog is read by as many as possible.
    Just who are these misguided people who think their mediaeval savagery can improve our already damaged world? I sat on a crowded London Underground train in the East End yesterday, where the majority of passengers, in my carriage at least, appeared to be of Asian and North African extraction – therefore possibly Muslims – many of whom were carrying rucksacks. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess what thoughts went through my mind, in view of recent atrocities. Then it occurred to me that those passengers whom I was observing might have been feeling just as uneasy as I. There is no guarantee that they would escape being victims themselves if caught up in an act of terrorism perpetrated by people who, from all outward appearances, might seem just like them. They must be feeling doubly insecure as their religion and identity become tainted with the actions of madmen.
    Although this may be a contradiction in terms, I feel more moderates need to speak out and become active in making their own moderation heard. In the last paragraph of this long article, the author expresses the same opinion very well:

  7. Kiki Posthuma

    I’m sorry my English vocabulary is limited. That makes substantive comment on your blog a little tricky. I’m sorry.
    Personaly I believe violence is never the answer to violence. Showing that whatever happens to us, we never setback, living our lives.
    We will continue to stand by our values and standards. For the right to live in freedom and democracy.

  8. sylvie levesque

    I was hoping you’d tone down the rhetoric on your blog. I say that as a fan. When I hear you sing, I heard light and sunshine, the light and sunshine that shines on all human beings. What will I hear from now on? Believe me you are out of your depth with this, you’re stirring the racism and hatred in your fans, it was so sad to read the comments. I take it you don’t have muslim friends or neighbors. Muslims (there are many kinds) die everyday at the hands of Isis too. But this is insipid rhetoric to you.

    • admin

      I appreciate your feedback but have to say that your accusations that I am “stirring hatred and racism” are utter nonsense. It just so happens that I have travelled quite a lot in the “Muslim world” and am lucky to have some close friends who are devoted Muslims, some of whom follow my career travelling from city to city. The latter happen to agree with what I wrote for the simple reason that they are sick and tired of seeing their religion perverted and used as an excuse to slaughter innocents. Had these attacks been carried out by white, Christian extremists my reaction would have been exactly the same.

  9. Beverley

    I totally agree with what you have said in your above message Joseph. Yesterday morning when I awoke to the sad news of what had happened in Paris I was initially filled with hatred for the people who had carried out the killings. Someone put a song on Facebook which I listened to. I started listening to other songs about peace and unity, singing the songs made me feel a whole lot calmer but still extremely sad. I realised then how the music had helped me deal with the atrocities of what had just happened and decided this could be something to help in my community. I work in a school in Lancashire where most of the kids are of Asian heritage and Muslim. We have a group called The Faith Friends who come into school twice a week to work with the students over their lunch break. I contacted a friend and colleague who is part of the group and who is Muslim and asked her about us getting together with all of our local schools and local community to write a song about peace and unity and for us to perform it all together. She thought it a great idea and this is what we will start on tomorrow lunch time. Music helps a great deal to get messages out there and to help us feel better, how good would it be if we could get communities all over the World doing the same thing? I remember last year when organising our Christmas Fair the Head thought it better not to call it a Christmas Fair as it might cause offence to our mainly Muslim community so we had to call it a Winter Fair!! The Muslim ladies I work with were so cross and asked us not to do that in the future as Christmas is Christmas just like Eid is Eid and they wouldn’t call that anything else and don’t expect us and that they still celebrate Christmas as we celebrate Eid with them. They told me that when we do things like that it actually makes things worse for them, so I know that the majority of Muslims like you say in your post are happy for us to live our lives as we always have. A lot of this PC stuff actually makes things worse for them!!

  10. Urzula

    I would agree that those who are involved with terorist organisations should be stripped of citizenship and expelled from the country where they reside. The outer European borders should be enforced. However, there needs to be a new approach to integration. The refugees or immigrants should not be left on their own. Instead of packing them in refugee centres, why not put them up in family homes? Give the money to host families who would accommodate them instead of building refugee centres. Or at least, keep people in refugee centres for a minimum time possible. That way they would become accustomed to the way of life of the receiving country, build relationships and also will be kept away from radical influences of not so well meaning members of the immigrant community.

  11. kerry

    Thank you for having the coruage to voice your opinion. I know first-hand how bigoted and punishing the “liberals” in charge can be.

  12. Mike Hutchison

    I remember a time was I was joyfully delivering Xmas cards for my mother when a large explosion was heard and a bright flash appeared…..strange! What was that…

    That was the Pan Am flight 103 that exploded over Lockerbie, just a few minutes from where I was delivering Xmas cards as a young boy for my Mother.
    Arriving home I asked the family had they heard or seen anything, they had heard the explosion but were totally unaware of what had happened. Sadly we turned the TV on only to hear and see the chaos that was ensuing around us….A never to be forgotten Xmas, for ALL the wrong reasons.

    Remember they do not need to be let in any country, ‘they’ will always find a way!

    What do these ACT’s gain anyone….NOTHING but sadness!

  13. Grat

    Dear Mr. Calleja,

    As an immigrant who has escaped atrocity, though not war, and been given a second chance for life and a much better life for my children, I applaud and thank you for the call to defend our values and civilization. It is just outrageous and offensive to us immigrants to see people betraying and perpetrating against countries whose generosity sheltered them and whose civilization protected them, not to mention their demonic desire to drag us all back to barbaric times. They have no right to live amongst us.

    It has been puzzling to us immigrants too why many people in western host countries feel compelled to accept some immigrants’ demand that they live by their “cultural values” that would be un-constitutional if not criminal in the host societies. Such “inclusiveness” would be at best be misguided and at worst offensive to the victims of such often degrading, and inhumane practices that should have no place today’s civilized world.

    I am not sure, however, what you meant by “no nonsense” approach to immigration. Some may say Australian immigrant policy or at least its practices is not a shining example of our values. So is it that or is it that we should ask frankly that refugees and immigrants agree to adopt our values and join the host society that they came for and seek to stay with, rather than imposing a separate existence in the midst of us? “When in Rome, do what Romans do” incidentally is a practice and expectation in all cultures. With the exception of aggressors, invading, conquering and occupying, I have yet to know any culture would sanction its member to live in another culture and trample its values and its citizens!

    On a note that is much closer to you as a world-class musician and me as a music lover, I wished that the musicians did not cancel the concerts in Paris this week. No one should be forced to stay away from opera houses, music halls and arenas. Music is our birthright, language of our soul, and expression of our existence, joyful or sorrowful. No amount of blood and massacre is going to destroy or silence it and make us surrender it. I’ll happily see our troops stationed at the entrances and I will buy them flowers, shake their hands and have them sign my programs instead.

    “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” as ever so eloquently put by Leonard Bernstein”.

    Thank you.

  14. Ute Roggendorf

    You know our country, you know our people, but you have the view from outside. Do you think it was wrong to take in all people, whatever nationality or religion?

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Joseph's Blog

May 16th, 2016

Quo Vadis Eurovision and other stories

Malta did not win the Eurovision but lo and behold the sun still rose and the island (the center of the known universe) still spun…

My two cents is that Ira Losco gave a really good performance and that the whole presentation was excellent. She shouldn’t have performed cause she is pregnant? Come off it – I have performed repeatedly with pregnant opera singers well into their 7th and 8th month of pregnancy and trust me when I say that rehearsing and performing for a full opera production is much more physically demanding than a couple of days at the Eurovision. Of course there are those who know much better than the undersigned and who went on to say that the presentation was a tad “camp”…oh the irony when one considers that the Eurovision is the campest of them all.

Meanwhile, this wouldn’t be Malta and the Eurovision wouldn’t be the Eurovision unless its politicized to the exhaustible hilt. The inevitable “mud slinging competition,” which we will see a lot of in the coming 22 months, ensued and even yours truly (inexplicably) ended up in the midst of the fray, in yet another “supernova” in a tea cup. The Eurovision suddenly became an interchangeable bullet to be used ad nauseam by both sides much like bitter parents who use their innocent children during disputes.  I have always found sycophants interesting, even amusing but they will not be getting the much desired Streisand effect from me, thank you very much. It is part of human nature after all to conjure conspiracies and we are not going to let the simple truth get in the way of some exciting and convenient fiction.

Speaking of “conjuring” is it me or is a company advertising real estate using a chap “connected” with the tragic and unnecessary death of an underage girl? It must be a clone or a”doppleganger”, otherwise this would be the epitome of bad taste and a 100 shades of wrong. Don’t get me wrong I am all for “second chances” and all of that but shouldn’t there be due process first? After all Lisa Marie didn’t get a second chance did she?