Tsunami appeal

by John Quiggin on January 14, 2005

Australia is having a national day of mourning and reflection for tsunami victims tomorrow. Copying an idea from Michele Agnew a little while back, I’ve set up a post and will give a dollar (Australian) for each comment[1] on this post to our Red Cross appeal until midnight Sunday Australian time. I’ve called for cosponsorships from readers, and the response has been great. The total promise is now more then $3/comment. Come on over and help us put our money where our mouth is. If you’re so inclined, make a pledge of your own.

fn1. I’ve set an upper bound of 1000 which is unlikely to be reached given my normal readership, but guarantees that I and the cosponsors won’t be ruined by a blogstorm should one occor.

Don’t Mention the War

by Kieran Healy on January 14, 2005

I’m in Ireland at the moment, where the much-needed light relief in the news is being provided by “Prince Harry and his Nazi Uniform”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4170431.stm. I’m less familiar with the ecology of royal commentary than I used to be, so it’s harder to sort out the toadies from the critics from the critics who are really toadies and vice versa. Happily, “Sarah Ferguson”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4173453.stm has intervened today to clarify thing, saying that “It is time for the press to back off. I know what it is like to have very bad press and be continually criticised — it is very tiring and unpleasant.” (For “very bad press” read “terrible judgment” and for “continually criticised” read “always making PR gaffes.”) Similarly, “Comedy Prankster” Aaron Barschak adopts the “Aw lay orf the lad”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/monarchy/story/0,2763,1390274,00.html approach, saying “I can guarantee that had anyone other than Prince Harry worn a Nazi uniform to a fancy dress party, no one would have blinked an eye.” If he doesn’t want the responsibility he can always renounce his position as 3rd in line to the throne, refuse a public subsidy, move to a bedsit somewhere and do whatever he likes.

Controversies like this point to the fundamental uselessness of the Royal Family, other than for entertainment value. I think the next step should be for Harry’s non-apology apology (“I am very sorry if I caused any offence or embarrassment to anyone”) to get a bit more amplification. I suggest one or all of the following:

* My family are all German anyway.

* Bugger off, you oiks (but don’t cut my subsidy).

* I’m only 20, or approximately the same age as many of the men killed fighting the Nazis during the war. Whenever that was.

I think it was the late Queen Mother who, after Buckingham Palace was bombed during the Blitz, said, “I’m glad it happened — at least now I can look the East End in the Eye.” The gin-soaked old horse-fancier was no less useless than Harry, of course, but even she seemed more aware of her position in life. Barschak has the cheek to invoke the grand tradition of popular dissent in Harry’s defence. “The rebellion of the individual against society is quintessential to democracy.” But as any royalist will tell you Aaron, the problem with this is that Harry isn’t the individual, he’s Society.