I’m busy with work and a special project for MO, but a reader forwarded me this link and I wanted to quick comment.
Although I don’t believe for one second that Prince Harry’s choice of a Nazi costume really meant anything more than he’s a little short of wisdom (like most 20-year-olds), there’s no doubt that it was the wrong thing to do.
Few words conjure up images of real-world evil more strongly than ‘Nazi’ does. The world (East, West, and in between) paid a dear price to rid the world of the Nazi government, and to treat such things lightly is more than a little insulting to those that suffered at their hands or sacrificed so much to fight them.
Prince Harry was just plain wrong. And if his costume was 250% overboard, he should go 500% overboard to apologize.
Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles said it was “inexcusable for a member of the royal family to do that” and called Harry’s action “a disgrace to England.”
“I think he should join the British delegation that is going to 60th anniversary of the liberation of (the concentration camp) Auschwitz,” he told CNN.
“He should be part of delegation and stand in silence. And that would transmit to world that he gets it.”
While I think that “disgrace to England” might be taking it a bit far, I think the idea of joining that delegation to Auschwitz is a good idea.
What I don’t understand is what would possess someone to WANT to wear that costume, anyway. I enjoyed playing CLOSE COMBAT 3, but I couldn’t bring myself to even play as the Germans in a computer game. Someone has to be the bad guys when you wargame, but there’s something particularly distasteful in my mind about playing the Germans in World War 2.
I’m also reminded of a story about the American premier of DAS BOOT, the German-made mega-movie about a WW2 U-Boat crew. The movie opens with a title card that says something to the effect of “During the Second World War, 40,000 men served on German U-Boats. 30,000 of them never made it home.” The audience STOOD AND CHEERED.
But I didn’t always get it, either.
Some time ago, in fact I was probably about 20 years old at the time, I was working as a grocery clerk and discussing RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK with the baggers on my lane. We were discussing the story that Tom Sellek had tried out for the part before taking the MAGNUM P.I. job, and what that might have meant to the Indiana Jones movies. One of them commented that it would have been hard to cheer for Sellek in the same way we cheer for Harrison Ford. Then one of the others said that he had also tried out for the part, but had decided to become a grocery bagger instead. I then foolishly quipped “Well, if you had taken the part, by the end of the movie I not only wouldn’t have been cheering for you, I’d probably be rooting for the Nazis.”
Have you seen in movies and television how everything stops and goes totally silent, all eyes on the offender, when someone says something really stupid? That’s exactly what happened to me. And I deserved it.
I don’t think there’s anything funny about wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party. Even if I did, I’d have the sense to realize that no one else would. I just don’t know why you’d even want to do such a thing.
Attila the Hun? Okay. Napoleon? Okay. Mao? Not only okay, but probably required in certain circles within this country. KKK? Not bloody likely.
Why some and not others? I don’t know. And you probably wouldn’t agree with me on the list in any event.
But a Nazi? With the swastika and everything?
People are going to be pretty hard on Prince Harry, but that’s okay. He’ll live.