The Sun’s royal Nazi exposé, and Islamic radicalism
The Sun newspaper's royal "Nazi expose" last week was one of the most controversial tabloid covers ever seen. But the paper was right to bring it to our attention, just as we are right to expose radical ideology among British Muslims today
The front page of The Sun last week provided one of the most initially shocking and controversial tabloid covers we’ve had on the shelves of our newsagents for a fair while; the Royal Family, in 1933, displaying what looked like Nazi salutes on camera.
The resulting furore continues into this week, with the media magnifying glass still hovering over the Buckingham Palace press office.
Over the last few days, debate has centred on whether the paper should have published the pictures at all; whether it is right or wrong to expose our sovereign and her family in such a manner and thus incur the wrath of the Palace.
A far more interesting way of looking at all this is to analyse these incidents from the past and draw comparisons with social and cultural attitudes in the United Kingdom and Europe today.
I think The Sun was right to publish the footage and photos. Despite personally being a strong supporter of our monarch and our royal institutions as a whole, history has taught us a another lesson this week.
On Monday, the Prime Minister outlined his vision to tackle extremism in the UK and “deglamourise” ISIS and other barbaric forms of extremism growing in the Middle East and at home, highlighting our “failures of integration”.
Of course, Mr Cameron’s narrative was the standard spiel of promoting “British values” in order to not exacerbate this problem further, where in reality the points outlined were of course more state intervention, and even more state intervention.
Mr Cameron said some British-born Muslims have “little attachment” to UK society and that Britain is a “multi-racial, multi-faith democracy.” Unfortunately, this plan will only widen the schism further and help strengthen the argument that multiculturalism has failed.
What does this have to do with a family with young children flipping salutes into the air? Well, one thing that the Prime Minister mentioned was, “No more turning a blind eye on the basis of cultural sensitivities” as he touched on the rationalisation of extremism by wider sections of the Muslim community.
Take the Gallup Coexist Index 2009, a poll which surveyed five hundred young Muslim males in the UK, asking them if homosexuality was morally acceptable. One hundred percent of those asked replied “No.”
Whilst on the subject of Nazis, Gallup conducted similar research in 1946 on the issue of the Holocaust to the German population on whether they condoned what had transpired after largely discovering the full extent of its horrors in 1945. Over 60 percent gave their quiet endorsement.
Many now agree that Edward VIII was a Nazi sympathiser, at least to some extent. In 1933, when the footage published by The Sun was recorded, Hitler had only just come to power and it was not at that time clear what was going to transpire.
The Palace should shift the blame onto Edward for manipulating those innocent little girls, one of whom now happens to be our greatest ever public servant. Churchill had to deal with Edward’s Nazi leanings by dispatching him to the Bahamas in 1940 to act as Ambassador -- a successful brush-sweep which has kept the matter safely under the carpet for decades.
Although it was right for The Sun to bring this to our attention, the narrative should be driven towards decrying Edward and exposing him for his ideology and values, just as we are now officially encouraged to do with many Muslims today.
The Queen, of course, is blameless. But a little more honesty about the behaviour of her uncle and his flirtation with extremism in the 30s, may go some way to enhancing our credibility as we confront a new form of extremism today.
William Hanley is co-founder of online culture magazine @InGoodTasteUK and chief creative officer at the Parliament Street think tank @WilliamPHanley
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