Tuesday 21 July 2015

The AAV infographic that royalists don't want you to see

On the 18th of July 2015 I cobbled together a quick infographic to explain my reaction to the video of the infant Queen Elizabeth II doing Nazi salutes with her family in the garden. I thought I'd taken a pretty even handed approach to the issue. I'd explained my opposition to inherited privilege but also clearly stated my belief that judging a person by the things their family members taught them to do when they were six or seven years old is totally out of order, reserving my condemnation for the adults in photograph (Edward VIII and the Queen Mother) who were both clearly old enough to know better.

It wasn't one of my best images, nor one of my most popular, but it had been shared almost 1,000 times and attracted many hundreds of comments (ranging from highly supportive to critical to the point of hurling abuse and insults). After I returned from an evening out playing snooker with my brother I was surprised to find that the image had been unilaterally deleted by Facebook, without explanation, meaning that somewhere in the region of 1,000 people had had the item censored from their Facebook walls, and hundreds more had had their comments on the infographic erased without trace.

It was fairly easy to establish what had happened from the gloating private messages I'd received from the royalists who had mass reported the image to Facebook. In my view these people are just as bad as the Nazi sympathisers that they are trying to defend. Instead of attempting to debate the issue, they decided that the best course of action would be to have the subject censored out of existence, without a care for the freedom of speech of all of the people they were erasing the comments of.

Funnily enough I had no intention of writing more about the issue, but the actions of these censorious royalists mean that instead of a simple, and actually quite sympathetic infographic, they've provoked me into writing a whole article about the Nazi tendencies of the English establishment in the 1930s, the truly pathetic apologetics of the royalists, the evils of censorship and the shroud of secrecy that cloaks the royal family from proper scrutiny.

Nazi sympathisers in the English establishment

During Hitler's rise to power, and even up until the outbreak of war, there were a truly shocking number of Nazi sympathisers in the English aristocracy. It is uncontentious to assert that Edward VIII and the Queen Mother were Nazi sympathisers, as were the Daily Mail proprietor Lord Rothermere and a significant swathe of the Tory party (just look into things like the Anglo-German Link and the shockingly anti-Semitic Right Club if you don't believe me). 

I've written more about the subject of establishment Nazi sympathisers in this article contrasting the fates of the war hero Alan Turing and the traitor William Forbes Sempill.

Ridiculous apologetics from royalists

At first royalists didn't know what to say about the images of the Royal family practicing their Nazi salutes. Early efforts to distract people from the subject focused on their outrage that the copy of the short film clip had apparently been taken without the owners' consent, which is about as spurious a defence as I've ever heard. If someone stole a child porn collection from a paedophile and handed it to the police, should the concerned citizen be done for theft while the paedophile is left in peace?

The weird thing is that this technicality about how the archive footage had been obtained was soon replaced by an even more spurious argument about how nobody in 1933 could possibly have understood that Adolf Hitler and the fascist movements in Europe were a bad thing.

Here are a few salient facts:

  • 1922: Benito Mussolini's fascist regime established (some 11 years prior to the royal family filming themselves doing fascist salutes).
  • 1923: Hitler attempts to lead a fascist Coup d'etat against the German state.
  • 1925: Volume one of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic diatribe Mein Kampf is published.
  • 1926: All trade unionism in Italy is outlawed with the exception of a few fascist controlled unions.
  • 1929: Heirich Himmler appointed head of the SS.
  • 1929-1933: Hitler's Brownshirst participate in ever more violent and deadly street battles with opposing political groups.
  • 1930s: Lord Rothermere directs his newspapers (Daily Mail, Daily Mirror) to publish regular pro-fascist propaganda pieces praising Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
  • 1931: The convicted murderer and vehement anti-Semite Micah Von Helldorff is appointed as the head of the Berlin brownshirts.
  • 1932: Oswald Mosley forms the British Union of Fascists, which begins to draw a great deal of support from the aristocratic classes.
  • January 1933: Hitler rises to power and begins banning all other political parties.
  • February 1933: Hitler begins enacting his plan to rearm Germany.
  • March 1933: Dachau concentration camp is opened and Hitler's power over the German state is cemented by the passing of the Enabling Act.
  • April 1933: New laws are introduced to purge Jews and members of left-wing organisations from public occupations in Germany.
  • May 1933: Trade unionism is banned throughout Germany, while the public are encouraged to attend mass book burnings.
  • July 1933: The Daily Mail proprietor Lord Rothermere lavishes praise on Hitler and the Nazi movement in an article entitled "Youth Triumphant".
It is entirely fair to say that people in the 1930s could have no conception of the full scale of the horrors that were to come as a result of the rise of Fascism in Europe, but to pretend that people must have been completely naive of what was happening at the time is an abject fantasy designed to deflect attention away from the fact that during the 1930s large numbers of the English aristocracy and members of the royal family were Nazi sympathisers, despite the growing public knowledge of the totalitarian and anti-Semitic nature of the ideology.

It is interesting to think about why the fascist ideology appealed so strongly to the inherited privilege classes of British society. In my view it makes a great deal of sense that people who had been brought up to believe in their inherent superiority over the common people would be attracted to an ideology based on the concept of an inherently superior master race, and the brutal repression of ordinary working people who might beg to differ.

The royal veil of secrecy

The leaked footage of the royal family doing Nazi salutes has brought new found pressure on the royal family to lift the veil of secrecy over the post-1918 political content in the royal archives, but this isn't the only example of the royal family hiding behind a shroud of secrecy.

Both Labor and the Tories spend years of effort and significant amounts of public money trying to prevent the public from seeing the "black spider memos" sent by Prince Charles to various government ministers, and in 2011 the Tory party introduced new legislation to exempt the taxpayer funded royal family from Freedom of Information requests.

In my view the royal family shouldn't be allowed to hide their interference in our democracy, nor their financial affairs behind a veil of secrecy because they receive £millions per year in taxpayer subsidies. I don't think they should be getting this money at all, but the fact that they can spend it as they please with no public scrutiny is totally outrageous.

The "I don't like what you people are saying so I'm going to have it censored" attitude

Regular readers will know that I maintain an almost unbreakable no-censorship policy on my Facebook page and blog. People are absolutely free to disagree with me, point out where they think I'm wrong, present their opposing opinions, even hurl foul mouthed abuse at me. I don't tend to delete anything unless it's either unlawful (libellous accusations, calls for ethnic genocide, incitement to murder ...) or bullying towards other users of the page.

I let all kinds of wrongheaded and abusive comments stand because I like to let people's words speak for themselves. 
To give an example - One short foul mouthed, bigoted and grammatically flawed tirade from an angry Ukipper is capable of telling people far more about the kind of people that UKIP attracts than the most well-crafted 2,000 word article from a "leftie" like me, so why on earth would I delete such a tirade?

This is the infographic that some royalists hated so much that
they got it deleted from Facebook.
One of the things that makes Britain a fairly decent place to live is that we have freedom of expression (at least for now, until Theresa May abolishes it). Thus I am free to say "I dislike the monarchy and other forms of anti-democratic privilege" and not be thrown in jail for it. It seems that the monarchists who had my infographic deleted have a completely different attitude. They don't give a damn about freedom of speech. They don't give a damn about tolerating other people who might have different beliefs and ideas to their own. They don't give a damn that their successful effort to have the image censored resulted in hundreds of comments being deleted, including many from other royalists.

I have nothing against the royalists who entered into debate in the comments beneath my image. They are just entitled to their opinions as I am entitled to mine. The people I have an issue with is those who have taken actions that resulted in the censorship of thousands of people, simply because they found what I've said offensive. These people are cowards who are afraid of open debate, and would surely be more at home in the very same kinds of fascist dictatorships that they are so keen to obscure the sympathies their beloved royal family had for back in the 1930s.

I'm pretty sure that these people are far too belligerent to fully appreciate the irony of what they've done.

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