How exactly is this funny?

01.12.05

Prince Harry was forced to issue an apology, after he wore a Nazi costume to a party:

Early editions of Thursday’s issue of “The Sun,” showed Prince Harry, the second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, clutching a cigarette and a drink and wearing a swastika armband.

The newspaper said the 20-year-old prince had attended a fancy dress party in the uniform of a fascist soldier.

In a statement, the prince said he was “very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone.” He added, “It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize.”

That’s all very well and good but what on earth would possess him to think this is a good idea in the first place?

Maybe he should have tried wearing his costume in France instead, where – according to Jean Marie Le Pen, the Nazi occupation of France was “not particularly inhumane”. (Hat tip: Damian.) I bet the French would have laughed.

It’s starting to become clearer that the rise in anti-Americanism in Europe is not entirely unrelated to the increased whitewashing of the Holocaust. When the US replies to anti-American sentiment with a “well, you weren’t complaining when we saved your collective asses from the Nazis”, the Europeans can just respond with a “hell, those Nazis weren’t so bad”.

History has a way of lessening the emotional impact of the very terrible or very tragic. And right now is a historical turning point. The survivor generation that bears witness is dying. “Nazi” is being used as an epitheth to describe just about anyone, from the “Zionists are Nazis” crowd to the “soup Nazi” on Seinfeld. The Holocaust is starting to be viewed not as anything particularly horrible or unique, but just as yet another chapter in the endless saga of the human race’s capacity for cruelty and evil and destruction. Maybe it’s even inevitable. When, only sixty-five years after Churchill’s “blood, sweat and tears” speech, a British prince is sporting a swastika, that has to mean something.

And of course, it’s easier to rationalize hating Jews if you believe that the Holocaust was just a minor blip, and that the concentration camps were just summer camps with bad food.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DaninVan 01.13.05 at 5:51 AM

Ah, I see The Tampon Who Would Be King has passed on his good taste and intellect.

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2 Puck 01.13.05 at 2:18 PM

The Holocaust isn’t particularly unique, perhaps just the most efficient to date. But there are have been numerous previous versions of the oppression and murder of jewish people by the government. Even in England.

And for someone so concerned with the protection of a minority from hatred, you make a simple line from Nazi to Holocaust to Jew hatred. What about everyone else that lost their lives in the Holocaust?

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3 segacs 01.13.05 at 2:22 PM

Where do you get “simple line” from? It’s more complex than that. I don’t think Prince Harry hates Jews; despite being royal, he’s really just someone with a lapse in taste or judgment. But the wider context in which it was possible for him to even make that lapse in taste is a backdrop against which someone like Le Pen – who does hate Jews, as well as pretty much all other minorities – can trivialize the Holocaust and still get votes.

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4 Ikram 01.13.05 at 11:28 PM

Le Pen’s had the same types of views for 20 years. Yes, he’s become a bigger political force lately, but that’s because of he is viewed as an anti-arab, anti-immigrant politician.

So you’re actually trying to link the trivialization of the holocaust to the demonization of arab immigrants in France. I don’t think that makes any sense at all.

Charlie Chaplin used Hitler-as-comedy in “The Great Dictator” long before Seinfeld came up with “Soup Nazi”. Mel Brooks trivialized Nazism in “Springtime of Hitler”. It’s really old news.

And Harry’s future is that of a dissolute second son of royalty — dressing up as a Nazi at a costume party is only the beginning. He’s lucky is he avoids living Charlie Sheen’s life.

Penny has a bad habit of using any and every world event to advance his own pet paranoias (“Brad and Jennifer split — yet more evidence of anti-semitism in Hollywood”!). Unless you’re going to be really funny about it, don’t start down that road.

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5 DaninVan 01.14.05 at 4:50 AM

Pr. Harry isn’t just any frat boy. I’m sure Veterans and civilian survivors of WWII, Commonwealth wide, are pleased as punch at this latest evidence of Royal Jelly gone rancid.

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6 Puck 01.14.05 at 3:50 PM

First, the whole idea that a young adult like Harry is expected to represent the country of Britain on a world stage is pretty silly.

Satire is simply one of our ways to deal with and help understand the world around us. The theme of the party was “Colonials and Natives” and it was intended to be in bad taste.

I am still amazed that a third rate minority party like the Nazis were able to take over complete control of the country and throw it into war. I’m also amazed that Bush was able to invade Iraq on the flimsiest of pretexts.

However, my main point is that the Holocaust isn’t just about the Jews and as long as you fail to recognize that it was a holocaust for all mankind, you will be contributing to our further isolation from each other.

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7 DaninVan 01.14.05 at 4:30 PM

Apparently, Puck, Chuck disagrees with you; he’s sending FratBoy and brother William to Auschwitz for a visit…
also:
“The voice of the establishment, The Times, dismissed his apology as “feeble” and said he had fallen in with “a dubious group of self-indulgent young men who are apparently content with a life of pointless privilege.”

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8 jim 01.15.05 at 7:44 PM

I was at first horrified by the photo, but now I’m curious, given the theme of “colonial and native,” whether this wasn’t some kind of misguided satire of the theme. Apparently, another character came dressed as Harry’s grandmother. The Sun, the paper that published the photo, is well-known as a Tory rag, so there might be something there.

But I agree with Segacs: “”Nazi” is being used as an epitheth to describe just about anyone, from the “Zionists are Nazis” crowd to the “soup Nazi” on Seinfeld. The Holocaust is starting to be viewed not as anything particularly horrible or unique, but just as yet another chapter in the endless saga of the human race’s capacity for cruelty and evil and destruction.”

The problem, Segacs is again with your consistency. It’s O.K. for Martin Himel to compare the broken window at Con-U to Kristelnacht, and I suppose for settlers to wear orange mogen david pat6ches, but it’s not alright for anyone really suffering oppression to make the comparison. Interesting!

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