January 17, 2005


Harry was a dill, but he's in good company (Gerard Henderson, January 18, 2005, The Age)

So it was off to Cotswold Costumes for some hired gear that would look frightfully gorgeous on the night. Prince William decided on a black leotard outfit while his younger brother went for the German Army Afrika Korps number - complete with matching black Nazi swastika set on a white and red background. The Sun obtained a photo of Harry-as-Nazi. All hell broke loose and the Prince issued an "I am sorry if I have caused any offence" apology. The problem turned on the use of "if" in this context.

However, in defence of Harry, at least he was attending a fancy-dress party that - by definition - has a sense of unreality about it. It is unclear whether Harry knows anything about Europe in the 1930s and 1940s or, more broadly, about totalitarian regimes - Fascist, Nazi and communist alike. If he is ignorant of these matters, then it is possible that he has been influenced by the modern word use that regards the terms "Fascist", "Nazi" and "Stalinist" as mere weapons of abuse, devoid of any historical meaning.

In the lead-up to the second Gulf war, many demonstrators took part in marches in which the democratically elected leaders of the coalition of the willing (the United States, Britain and Australia) were depicted as of Fascist or Nazi disposition. For example, demonstrators in Sydney on February 16, 2002, carried a large portrait of John Howard on which was drawn an Adolf Hitler-style moustache.

Now, the young Prince Harry has met the Australian Prime Minister. Who knows? In a historical mode, he may have come to the conclusion that if Hitler was just like Howard, then the founder of national socialism may not have been too bad after all. In which case, what could be wrong with wearing Nazi insignia when out and about with the (equally ignorant) Kings Road set?

In early 2003, Australian expatriate journalist John Pilger declared that "the current American elite is the Third Reich of our times" and maintained the "regime of George Bush is totalitarian". According to this view, Bush and Hitler are much the same.

Aren't we the Fourth Reich?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2005 6:45 PM
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