The cat i' the adage

"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Giving and taking offence

Prince Harry is photographed wearing a Nazi armband at a friend's fancy dress party. So what? As I write, London is showing a musical (The Producers) in which characters dress as Nazis, and everybody thinks that a lot of fun. You or I could dress as Hitler for a party and no one would imagine that we were endorsing the holocaust, so why not Harry? Yet Conservative leader Michael Howard has called for him to apologise in person and the former armed forces minister Doug Henderson has said that the incident shows that Harry is unsuitable for Sandhurst. Piffle! Is anybody actually offended by this? If they were, would it matter much or even at all? Would they deserve an apology or should they be pitied for their lack of proportion and their oversensitivity?

Poor Harry. Being a prince used to be a lot of fun, I imagine, but now it is a curse.


I'm seriously out of step on this one.

"This was a shameful act displaying insensitivity for the victims, not just for those soldiers of his own country who gave their lives to defeat Nazism but to the victims of the Holocaust who were the principal victims of the Nazis," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the U.S-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

Is it? I'm pretty hot on the holocaust myself and cannot see this as anything more than an ill-judged choice of party costume.

Robert Rozett, an official at Yad Vashem, Israel's national memorial to Jews killed during the Holocaust, said Harry's actions trivialised the history of the Holocaust. "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," he said.

I don't think it indicates anything of the sort. Does Mel Brooks show that he has failed to understand the enormity of the Holocaust because of his propensity to make jokes about it? If the prince had opted for a Russian soldier's uniform, would it be claimed that he was insensitive to the fate of the millions of kulaks massacred under Stalin?

The Prince could be forgiven for believing that his wearing a Nazi uniform to a private fancy dress party would not be understood as indicating his attitude (positive, negative or indifferent) towards Hitler's genocidal ambitions, but it seems that few people want to forgive him unless he makes an abject apology in person. He should disappoint them.


At 13 January 2005 at 14:15, Blogger Jorgen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 13 January 2005 at 14:31, Blogger Jorgen said...

Michael Howard has proven once more that he is an idiot. You can discuss if Prince Harry had to give an apology at all: had he dressed as for example Stalin or Genghis Khan, noone would have as much as blinked. Wearing a uniform from the Afrika Korps is fine too; it is the Nazi armband that is the problem. But then again, he is after all third to the throne and his family have had some unfortunate connection to the Nazi party in the past, so, yes, I would have advised him to apologize, but certainly not in person.

It is time for Michael Howard to apologize in person to all Tory voters for attacking first Bush and now the royals.

At 13 January 2005 at 17:29, Blogger rexie said...


I wrote my update before reading your comment, so apologies for appearing to rework the Stalin parallel.

I find myself in agreement with you about Michael Howard. Every time he speaks these days I find myself in fundamental disagreement - identity cards, welfare spending and now this. It's quite a depressing time to be a Conservative.

At 13 January 2005 at 17:45, Blogger Jorgen said...

Yes, when Howard was elected to lead the Conservative Party, I think that many of us felt that he was a bad choice, remembering him from when he was running the Home Office. I don't think he can win over Blair; the Conservatives only chance is that Blair loses. And Blair seems to be helping in that respect.

At 13 January 2005 at 17:57, Blogger Jorgen said...

Since I couldn't find your email address anywhere:
why not make a posting on identity cards? Unlike you, I believe they are a necessity to stop terrorism and that it is necessary that everybody carry them at all times (unlike what Blair believe). They also function well as ID for credit cards.

Howard anyway has to support them now as he suggested them years ago.

At 14 January 2005 at 09:08, Blogger rexie said...

ID Cards

My attitude to this is mainly instinctive being a small government person and distrustful of the state. Now, if I really thought that the move would have a beneficial effect in the war against terror I'd be prepared to set my prejudices aside, but I take it that the major security threat to the country comes from foreign islamic extremists quite capable of entering the country as visitors and therefore not requiring ID cards. In practice I expect the legislation to prove expensive, ineffective and intrusive.

At 14 January 2005 at 15:02, Blogger Jorgen said...

I have for years been saying the same using the same two arguments. But reading about the conditions in Holland made me change my mind.

At 14 January 2005 at 16:55, Blogger rexie said...

"The conditions in Holland made me change my mind".

Can you say more, particularly how ID cards can help?

At 15 January 2005 at 17:42, Blogger tor said...

I can answer that question: In the war on terror, it may one day be necessary to have compulsory ID cards to enable the police to fast establish the identity of anyone at any time. This will only result in situational discrimination: people found in unusual circumstances i.e. walking at night, visiting certain areas, attending certain functions / activities or behaving in an abnormal fashion. To avoid accusation of sectoral discrimination, the cards need not have information about race, religion etc.

The police will claim that ID-cards will ruin the good relationship with the public. This may be so, but I doubt it. Anyway: 1) the war on terror may necessitate ID-cards, 2) law-abiding citizens will not object, 3) ID-cards will stop the rumour about benefit fraud committed by illegal aliens thus improving the relations between the original population (for lack of a better word but understood in the widest sense possible) and the recent immigrants, 4) they prevents certain crimes, 5) they function as ID for credit cards, 6) illegal aliens can be identified fast and 7) the alternative is that the police carry out random checks, something that certainly will ruin the relationship between the police and the public. Anyway, the naive policy of political correctness is really to blame for all the immigrant problems in the first place: appeasement never works in the long run.

Perhaps even internment and active profiling will become necessary to win – remember this is a war we cannot afford to lose. The discussion has started in the US, e.g. (written by; and, no, I have not read the book.

Note by the way that Holland now has negative immigration despite a large intake.

At 15 January 2005 at 21:25, Blogger Jorgen said...

I wouldn't dare to say all that.

At 18 January 2005 at 16:12, Blogger Jorgen said... is today discussing ID cards.

At 18 January 2005 at 17:22, Blogger rexie said...

Thanks for the tip. Should be an interesting discussion. Unfortunately I am busy.

At 18 January 2005 at 18:41, Blogger Jorgen said...

And I am not in the UK at all. But I am sure they will let us know the result later in the week.


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