Harry's Travails

By Cockburn, Alexander | The Nation, February 7, 2005 | Go to article overview

Harry's Travails


Cockburn, Alexander, The Nation


Imagine, in the same month as the death of the muse of high camp, Susan Sontag, we have England in an uproar about Prince Harry and his silly armband. All this, while The Producers is playing in London to packed houses. They're even talking of banning the swastika. That'll be one in the eye for Indian symbols! The airlines will have to start handing out reminders to the Navajo before they land at Heathrow.

The theme of the party where some jerk snapped Harry was Colonialists and Natives. I suppose the lad could have gone as Lord Curzon or Lord Kitchener, but most of Harry's male relatives still have to dress like that anyway for formal military occasions. The Afrika Korps uniform was a nice idea and a lot more original than putting some shoeblack on his face and going as a native.

How bitterly Harry must regret not dressing up as Captain Cook. Then he could have had an enjoyable Tour of Contrition to the Antipodes and the Pacific region, apologizing to the Maoris and Hawai'ians for insensitivity to genocide. Who wants to go to Auschwitz at this time of year?

Of course, the leaders of major Jewish organizations have had a field day, broadcasting their shock and dismay on an hourly basis and telling Harry to jog round the Auschwitz perimeter another couple of times. Moral reprobation from these folk about fancy dress looks threadbare in an age when Israeli soldiers force a Palestinian to play his violin at a border crossing.

How come Sharon didn't send those soldiers to Auschwitz to apologize for having forgotten that it's only sixty years since Jews with fiddles in Eastern Europe were being told by genuine Nazi murderers to hop about and play a few tunes? How come Sharon doesn't have to apologize for anything?

"Where do you stop with the taboos," wrote David Ball to the Daily Telegraph. "Do you not dress as a Dominican Friar, whose order was responsible for the persecution and death of 1000's of 'Heretics' i.e. people with different views, in the Middle Ages. Do you not dress as a US cavalryman, who assisted in the systematic virtual destruction of the indigenous native population of America.... I don't think Harry was going around shouting neo-Nazi slogans and giving Heil Hitler salutes."

I'll buy that, same as I buy the view of the Pravda editorialist who wrote: "Prince Harry turned up in an Afrika Korps uniform--who better to mock than the German colonials under Hitler, the greatest imperialist project in human history since perhaps Genghis Khan? ... if this young man was invited to a Colonials and Natives party, what was he supposed to wear? A pink ballet dress, to be accused of being a fairy, a trans-sexual or a cross-dresser?"

Rommel was a perfect choice. The English have always had a soft spot for the Desert Fox, the Good German outgeneraled by Montgomery and then forced to commit suicide by Hitler. Actually, Rommel was outgeneraled by the matrons who ruled over matters of hygiene at the schools attended by the British officer class. How well I remember the matron at my own school, Heatherdown, who used to line us little boys up and then clasp our testicles in her chill hand and demand that we cough. …

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