“Can’t I just calm down and enjoy the day? On a day when friends and fellow travellers have been beaten and arrested, no, I can’t. Sorry.”
–Laurie Penny, British journalist, gives her 140-character take.
There’s been a bit of a tussle in certain corners of the American progressive blogosphere over yesterday’s royal wedding.
I totally get the argument that everyone’s entitled to a bit of mindless cheesy celeb-gawking fun every once in a while. I totally get pomp. The wedding itself isn’t to my taste, but given my own pop culture preferences, I don’t really have any esthetic grounds for looking down my nose at it.
But here’s the thing. The British royal family has a long and sordid tradition of ethnic nastiness, a tradition that extends directly to this particular groom’s brother. It has a long and sordid tradition of sexual nastiness, a tradition that extends directly to this groom’s father’s treatment of this groom’s mother. It has a pretty long and sordid tradition of class-based nastiness, a tradition that absolutely and completely suffused yesterday’s spectacle.
Add to that the fact that the wedding is speculated to have cost the British taxpayer as much as fifty million pounds, at a time when Britain is slashing services to the poor. Add to THAT the fact that a huge number of left-wing activists in London were rounded up over the last week, in flagrant violation of their civil liberties, under the pretext of keeping things calm and cozy for the royals and their clique. Add to THAT the fact that each living Tory Prime Minister and ex-PM was invited to the wedding and neither of the two living Labor PMs were.
Add all that together, and I’d say that it’s at the very least an event that deserves some skeptical progressive analysis along with all the rah-rah.
The British understand this, by the way. UK media have been full of political analysis not only of the wedding itself, but also its reception. And that’s as it should be.