Prince Harry is not the only one belittling the Holocaust

spiked editor Mick Hume’s Notebook in The Times (London).

Mick Hume

Mick Hume

Topics Politics
  • Prince Harry might be a boorish hooray and an upper-class twit, but he seems unlikely to be a member of the Nazi party.

A Nazi would be the last person seen out wearing a swastika these days. The event at which Harry did so was a fancy dress party rather than a political rally. I have not worn fancy dress since the age of eight, but as I recall, the point of such parties is to masquerade as somebody else. Don’t let those who masquerade as our moral guardians dress up foolishness as fascism.

Prince Harry’s act of genius-idiocy was to wear the only costume guaranteed to outrage everybody. Even doing an Aaron Barschak and appearing as Osama bin Laden would not have caused such a stir. But wearing a swastika was the one thing he could not get away with.

Indeed, the farther into history the Second World War retreats, the more obsessed with Nazis the news seems to become. The new Labour Government established Holocaust Memorial Day in 2001. This year’s event, on January 27, is accompanied by a BBC documentary series marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The UN will mark the day for the first time this month.

The Nazi Holocaust has become perhaps the last moral absolute in an uncertain world. At a time when it seems hard to create a consensus about what is right and wrong on anything from euthanasia to GM food, it is comforting to remind ourselves of the one issue on which we can agree: that there remains a clear line between good and evil.

This has created a strangely confused situation. Surveys show that many people are ignorant of the horrifying facts about the Holocaust. So expensively-educated young men can think it is OK to wear a swastika in polite company. Yet at the same time, the terms ‘Nazi’ and ‘holocaust’ are promiscuously thrown around to describe all manner of present-day problems and conflicts.

The demand that we ‘learn the lessons of the Holocaust’ often has little to do with studying the history of the Final Solution. Instead it means slapping these historic labels on to whatever you do not like today. Thus everything from abortion to killing chickens for food is now denounced as a ‘holocaust’.

We witnessed a gross example of such holocaust-mongering this week. After Germaine Greer quit Celebrity Big Brother, the feminist writer complained that the housemates had refused to join her protest against Big Brother’s ‘fascist’ bullying. ‘Persecution is what happens,’ she said, ‘holocausts are what happen, when good people do nothing.’ By this perverse logic, denying a fat man his diet cola in a reality TV show sets us on the slippery slope to genocide.

There are two ways of diminishing the importance and unique horror of the Nazi Holocaust. You can try to deny that it happened – a lunatic creed preached by a few cranks. Or, perhaps for the best of motives, you can belittle it by drawing endless parallels between the Holocaust and other events. The danger is that this fashionable attitude buries the true horror of the deaths of six million Jews and others, by rendering Nazi barbarism banal and putting the crime of the last century on a par with unpleasant everyday events. That seems to me a bigger problem, if we want to respect the memory and meaning of the Holocaust, than what the prattish Prince wears to a fancy dress party.

  • Yes, as a report entitled Mobile Phones and Health advised this week, mobiles should not be given to under-eights.

But that is because they are little children, not because of any big health risks. I do worry, however, that something has been affecting the brainwaves of the experts and authorities issuing the safety advice on mobiles. They admit that there is no hard evidence that mobile phones or masts cause harm to human health. Yet they tell parents, in ever more ringing tones, to take a ‘precautionary approach’ and restrict the use of mobiles anyway. Of course, nobody can swear that there is absolutely no risk; it is impossible to prove a negative. But we can be certain that this sort of thing spreads unnecessary anxiety among parents faster than text message gossip gets around teenagers. Many parents complain of their children’s inane chatter on mobiles. There is also far too much of that coming from the mobi-phobics.

Mick Hume is editor of spiked
This article is republished from The Times (London)

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics


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