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A royal nitwit



Published: Tue, January 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Dallas Morning News: Harry Windsor, third in line to the British throne, is -- how to put this with due charity? -- a royal nitwit.

Unless you're an extra on a World War II movie set, it is never right to wear a Nazi armband in public, as the prince did at a recent costume party. He is presumably not a Nazi sympathizer and must have thought it merely amusing to sport Hitlerian regalia. Earth to Prince Harry: Unless you're Mel Brooks, Nazism is not a joking matter.

Harry's only 20 years old, some defenders say, and therefore prone to immaturity. Nice try, but that won't do.

Back in the 1940s, Englishmen younger than Prince Harry were fighting and dying to save Great Britain from the swastika. They didn't sacrifice their lives so that a prince of the realm could swan around as a swastika-clad life-of-a-posh-party.

Historical memory

Why should Americans care? Because this shameful incident speaks to the importance of keeping historical memory alive in a culture. An official at Israel's Holocaust memorial said, "When a British prince wears the uniform of a Nazi soldier at a party, it indicates that the lessons of the Holocaust have not really entered deeply within his understanding and consciousness."

Exactly. It is hard to imagine that any decent person, having truly confronted the enormity and meaning of Nazi evil, would associate himself with it in any way. More commonly, one sees kitschy expressions of the communist hammer-and-sickle in popular culture -- something unthinkable if people understood the blood-soaked cruelty of communism.

On a less grand scale, incidents in which public figures such as Al Lipscomb casually invoke Hitler or fraternity boys masquerade in blackface are a sure sign that they either have no clue about the historical weight and hateful resonance of these gestures -- or worse, that they know exactly what they're doing and don't care.




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