Harry & Meghan: Culture War in Cameo? – Part 01

Cameo (def.): A short description that easily encapsulates a situation

It was not my intention to watch or blog about Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who were interviewed with Oprah Winfrey. Even before the interview was aired in March 2021, there was already much emotion and verbiage. This increased after the showing.

With so many voices speaking out, why join the fray? Simple! As a teacher, it was obvious that the Sussex story is a perfect object lesson of the culture war in cameo. The more we can ‘understanding the times,’ the more we will be equipped to plan and lay hold of our God-given future.

If nothing else, the amount of international attention to Harry and Meghan shows that interest is the British monarchy is not fading out anytime soon. Millions watched the two hour interview and the commentary has not ended, much of it fiery on both sides.

This is only just the culmination of intense scrutiny of the couple, that began with their engagement, May 2018 wedding, their withdrawal from royal life in January 2020 (known as ‘Megxit’), the publication of the best-selling book Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family by Carolyn Durand and Omid Scobie. Meghan contributed to the book via a third party. If you thought that was the end of the Sussex story, then came the Oprah interview.

During her talk with Oprah, Meghan calmly told her story, including: the sacrifice of her career to join the royal family, the issue of mental health and suicidal thought, and lies and falsehood of the monarchy. The biggest ‘bombshell:’ Some anonymous royal expressed comments, if not concern, to Harry about the skin colour of the soon-to-be born baby, Archie. The prince said he would not reveal the name. Some of these are serious issues that should not be taken lightly. On the other hand, it would have been good for Meghan to tell her side of the story regarding accusations of bullying royal staff. Let’s never forget, no matter who is involved, there are always two sides to every story.

Yet, there is, as always with public figures, the bigger issues. How can the lives of the Sussexes be a cameo or parable of the current culture war. Semantics is part of the weaponry.

Watch for these terms:

Woke: This word has been around for a few years, but what does it mean? (Of interest: I learned of about ‘woke’ in one of the most remote places on earth: Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, 600 km east of Perth. Words get around). ’Woke’ is a person who has been alerted to injustice, especially racism, and so they are now awake. Before becoming ‘woke,’ the individual is a mild-mannered, relaxed Clark Kent type. After entering into ‘woke-hood,’ they are transformed into an indignant, empowered ‘superman’ (or woman), ready – even obsessed — to fight and rectifying the injustice.

The ‘woke’ person is often angry, excitable, and emotional. Hollywood, the media, major league sport, big business, even some evangelical Christians now bear this label, some of them proudly.

In a televised message, Prince Harry was called ‘woke’ for equating the Commonwealth of Nations with racism. We will address this down the track. Conservative commentators have called the Oprah interview with the Sussexes ‘woke.’ Was it? As we proceed to learn the vocabulary, you can decide.

Identity politics: This flagship of the Left and runs deep within the US Democratic Party. The Declaration of Independence famously states that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This creed has guide America since 1776.

Identity politics (IDPO) challenges this belief by defining and dividing Americans in collective identities based on race, gender, and sexual preference. The collective identity is more important than what we hold in common as individuals. IDPO ranks these labels according to people of privilege & powerful vs. powerless & vulnerable. Americans are either oppressed or oppressors. The more one is oppressed, the more compensation and moral authority they can make claim on society. The underlying notion of IDPO is that America is guilty of oppressing its own people and it is time to balance the scales – the oppressed must be compensated and even insulated from censure and criticism. The oppressor, particularly white males, need to atone for their white supremacy.

The Duchess’s identity as a mixed race American and, to a lesser extent, the race of the interviewer, were highlighted. One of the promises of the 2008 election of Barack Obama to the US Presidency was the promise of a ‘post-racial’ America. How did we get from that promise to this current situation of racial and social division? Time and space fails us to explain, but bear in mind that IDPO is an increasing aspect of the culture war, which seeks to change, or even destroy, western civilisation as we know it.

The issues are important and Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess, are uniquely placed to make a contribution – for better or worse. Next time, we will juxtaposition the Oprah interview with the larger issues at hand. We will continue to walk down this pathway, learning what we can along the way. To ‘understand the times’ is worth it. TO BE CONTINUED

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons 2.0. https://www.flickr.com/photos/rambomuscles/27537241539 and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Harry_and_Meghan_on_Christmas_Day_2017_(cropped).jpg
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