Friday, January 14, 2005

Heil Harry

An inescapable fact of public life is that those under the watchful eye of the paparazzi are held to higher standards than the rest of us. That said, there is no defence for Prince Harry in the firestorm he's created over wearing a swastika to a costume party. I'm an unabashed defender of free speech in all its forms, but anybody wearing the Nazi flag, in jest or not, had better have a pretty good reason for doing so. That is especially true for somebody who is third in the line for the British throne. Though some have chalked it up to youthful indiscretion, and even the rebellious nature of a second child, it is pretty clear that Harry simply should have known better.

It appears now that Harry is contrite: he will be headed to Auschwitz later this month to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the concentration camp's liberation. Still, he has not delivered an in-person, public apology, and apparently there are no plans for him to do so. This is a mistake. His printed statement on Wednesday was of the cookie-cutter variety: "I am very sorry if I caused any offence or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologise." Conservative leader Michael Howard is right to call for a public apology from the boy who could be king. Maybe Auschwitz would be the perfect stage, and Harry would have nothing to lose and much to gain by apologizing properly.

If there is one silver lining to Harry's wardrobe malfunction, it is that it brings further attention to the Holocaust. If there is a second silver lining, it is that he didn't pick this outfit.


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