No one should wear Nazi symbols

Dallas Morning News

Thier View

Harry Windsor, third in line to the British throne, is — how to put this with due respect? — 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.

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.”

On a less grand scale, incidents in which public figures 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.

This kind of thing is unacceptable and not just because it gives offense to some. Philosopher George Santayana taught us the greater danger from losing our sense of outrage at evil symbols like the swastika: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

The above editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Friday and was made available through krtcampus.