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Kidd Millennium: It’s All About Harry…

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It’s All About Harry…

By Ron Callari

While the trial for abuses at Abu Ghraib was in full swing, more important news hit the airwaves. Once again, pop culture took precedence over substance. But really…in a society mesmerized by celebrity, what more could one ask for? A member of the royal family, a masquerade ball and idiocy beyond the call of duty. As the tale goes, It appears that the British Prince Harry had attended a fancy dress costume party wearing a Nazi uniform complete with a swastika armband. According to the global mass media reports, it was enough to tumble the monarchy.

However can the story of a naïve member of the royal family who lives in a world far removed from the horrors of the Holocaust some 70 years prior be more important than today’s current war crimes?

It must be so, since the proceedings in the courtroom in Fort Hood, Texas was pushed back burner while Harry’s re-enactment of “Springtime for Hitler” was the shot heard round the world. The New York Post ran Prince Harry's scandal as a front page banner while relegating Specialist Charles Graner's conviction a day later to the bottom of Page 9.

Perhaps we have difficulty in heeding the signpost warnings of the past. We cringe with the mere mention of concentration camps, but when we tread down the same treacherous path, we cover our tracks faster than a schnauzer with a bone.

Described as "Judgment at Nuremberg" gone topsy-turvy, Graner’s trial targeted the order-taker versus his superiors. Ringleaders for these crimes go as high as the Secretary of Defense and yet not one criminal charge has been leveled against any of the prison's officers, let alone anyone as high up in the food chain as Donald Rumsfeld.

Rummy versus Rummel? Both despicable men by any moral barometer! Yet if any uniform is to be reviled in today’s society, perhaps it should be the 3 piece-suit of Bush’s assault dog, versus the swastika armband of Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

Even our newly appointed cabinet members know how to shirk culpability. Prior to Alberto Gonzales being screened for Attorney General, he dismissed the Geneva Conventions as “quaint” and “obsolete”. During his senate confirmation hearings when asked if he could ever engage in torture under any circumstances, he replied, "I don't believe so, but I'd want to get back to you on that and make sure I don't provide a misleading answer." To torture or not to torture is apparently a difficult concept to grasp.

The commercial media can ridicule and mock a wayward prince at the ripe old age of 20. Yet we continue to live in an age-old world of deception, cover-ups and outright lies when it serves our purpose. Based on our black-and-white role model in the White House, we are now very comfortable in absorbing euphemisms when we want to dismiss the indefensible. In President Bush's words, the mistreatment of Abu Ghraib prisoners was solely the responsibility of "a few American troops" working the graveyard shift.

So we goose-step behind our fearless leader. Since the election, news organizations have rallied around the winner and avoided discouraging words of any kind. Some 70 years earlier, they did the same.

In years to come, an expose of the war crimes and torture that spread rampant from Afghanistan to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and beyond will be revealed, only for us to express “shock” and “awe”. As we did when that brash young Prince recklessly selected what he thought was an unassuming uniform for a costume ball.

So for now, Page 9 it is. If Bush-Rumsfeld-Gonzales et al can give these acts a sugar-coated rationale than it is up to Prince Harry's armband to carry the news of the day.


Ron Callari is an American journalist and editorial cartoonist who resides in Jersey City, New Jersey. Callari’s political satire Uncle Dubya’s Jihad Jamboree was recently published in 2004. He and the celebrated Irish illustrator Jon Donohoe co-produce kidd millennium cartoons weekly.

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