Diogenes was a fourth century, BC, Greek philosopher. Alexander the Great visited Diogenes, who was then sitting in the sun. Alexander asked Diogenes what he, Alexander, the world conqueror, could do for Diogenes, a famous, but impoverished, philosopher. Diogenes replied, “Move aside. You are blocking my sun.”
In other tales about this encounter, Alexander said, “If I were not Alexander, I would like to be Diogenes,” and Diogenes replied, “If I were not Diogenes, I would like to be Diogenes.” In yet another version, Diogenes gestured to a pile of bones and said to Alexander, “I am looking for the bones of your father, but I cannot distinguish them from the bones of a slave.”
My Uncle Jan was an atheist and a member of the Communist Party. I asked him why. He said that when he was a boy in a village in Slovakia, only the nobility could go to doctors, and after the communists came in, the peasants, like him could go to the doctor. Of course there are much better routes to medical care than a Soviet invasion, but I understood his point. Uncle Jan also told me hair-raising stories about nobles abusing peasants. Janosik, the Slovak national folk hero was executed by being hung from his rib.
One day when I was six years old, I was sitting in the back of a Ford Rambler. Christine asked me which one of the Beatles I had a crush on. I said that I didn’t know or care who the Beatles were. She said that everyone had to have a crush on one of the Beatles. I realized that my best friend was parasitized by an outside force, and that force was celebrity. She probably didn’t know who the Beatles were, either, but celebrity was pressuring her to give her heart over to these strangers, in order to increase their money and power.
In January, 2019, I was scrolling through Facebook. Judy, a leftist white woman, posted a brief video clip. The video, Judy insisted, proved that white, male Trump supporters were a menace. In the clip, a teen boy stood next to an old man beating a drum. I didn’t see the cataclysmic menace that Judy saw. The boy was Nick Sandmann. Within hours, he would be hiding for his life, and leftists would be threatening to murder him.
The above anecdotes convey my hostility to the British royal family. I admire Diogenes’ self-respect. I recoil at my friend Christine’s surrender of her heart to celebrity worship, and Judy’s surrender to mob hatred of a scapegoat. I think of nobility as the people who prevented my peasant ancestors from going to the doctor, and who hung some of us up on meat hooks.
When it comes to race? I believe that the thinkers most worth listening to are those labeled “black conservatives.” Larry Elder, Shelby Steele, Jason L. Riley, Thomas Sowell, Glenn Loury, and John McWhorter all acknowledge that white supremacy is evil and has caused incalculable pain. And – not “but,” but “and” – And the best impulses of the Civil Rights movement have been hijacked to a performative white guilt that harms not helps. The best path is for blacks to adopt traditional, conservative values, and to jettison what John Ogbu called “oppositional culture.” The left’s message to black people, in contrast, can be summed up as, “You are powerless; you have no responsibility for anything; white supremacy is an omnipotent, omnipresent force that you lack any ability to resist; your only choice is to wait for a rich, white liberal to rescue you.” The left’s message paralyzes believers. It has destroyed generations.
The left’s message is buttressed by a purely performative outrage industry. The demand of white supremacy outpaces the supply, and so we have false claims from Jussie Smollett, Nathan Phillips, Bubba Wallace, Oumou Kanoute, Tawana Brawley, Yasmin Seweid, and countless others. These false claims do significant damage to civil society, hurting blacks and whites alike.
Decades ago, the left abandoned efforts to address class inequity in favor of an exclusive focus on skin color. The left invented dogma like “white privilege” and “white fragility” specifically in order to taint poor white identity, and to cast poor whites as the villains in the leftist narrative (see here and here). Rich whites typically don’t lose jobs to less qualified diversity hires; poor whites do. Poor whites are the ones victimized by violent crime. I’ve been at the sharp point of the spear of leftists’ campaign against poor whites. See here and here.
So, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I reject celebrity worship as a form of parasitism, of celebrities achieving their goals by injecting their images into the minds and hearts of their worshippers. I also reject online hate mobs targeted at celebrity scapegoats. I rejoice that I’m an American and I do not live in a monarchy; I am grateful to the Founding Fathers who enabled my life by authoring the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and by fighting the Revolution. When it comes to race, the left pursues a destructive path.
Having clarified my stance on monarchies, celebrity, and the left’s approach to race, I’m here to confess: I was wrong about Meghan Markle. I consciously choose not to devote much attention to the British royal family. For that reason, I didn’t know much about Meghan Markle. When I heard that she was claiming to have been a victim of racism, I snorted. “She’s not even black!” More than once, I made fun of Meghan Markle on Facebook. Whiny Meghan Markle. Obnoxious Meghan Markle. Meghan Markle imagining herself to be a victim when clearly she is not.
I was wrong. I did exactly what people like Judy did to Nick Sandmann. I joined in an online mob about something I knew nothing about. Judy was eager, metaphorically, to lynch Nick Sandmann because he was a white boy wearing a MAGA hat. I was eager to kick around Meghan Markle because she’s a pretty rich girl and I decided that I don’t have to feel compassion for someone with more money and better luck than I have.
I was wrong. Yes, Meghan Markle was a victim of racism. Yes, even rich and pretty people’s pain is human pain, and deciding to care about others’ pain based on their bank accounts is neither rational nor the best a human heart can do. More than these two points is this point: Meghan Markle’s pain actually matters in the greater scheme of things. In the same way that the Britney Spears conservatorship saga offers us an opportunity to think about the best way to address erratic relatives, the Meghan Markle story offers us the chance to think and talk about the same issues Niccolo Machiavelli wrote about in his statecraft manual The Prince. Clearer understanding of how Meghan Markle has been used offers us a clearer understanding of raw power, the human psyche, the behavior of mobs, the persistence of hate, and the impact of the internet.
No one should cede protest against real racism to leftists. Conservatives, too, recognize that racism is wrong. Conservatives, too, can feel compassion for racism’s victims. We don’t have to agree with someone’s politics, or assess a person as an immaculate saint, to care when that person receives death threats. We don’t need leftists to teach us the difference between right and wrong. We recognize that difference and can speak up about it. Conservatives have shown the exceptional courage to speak up against race hoaxes. We can show the compassion to condemn racism, even if we disagree with the victim’s politics.
Harry and Meghan have protested that press coverage was ruining their lives. Why, then, did they submit to even more coverage in a six-hour Netflix docuseries? Harry answers that question in the very first minutes of Harry & Meghan. This isn’t just our story, Harry says. This is so much bigger than us. You don’t know the full truth, he says. The royal family is supposed to be about duty and service, he says. He’s going to do his duty as he sees it; he’s offering the service he feels it necessary to offer. He plans, in this docuseries, to expose a sick symbiotic relationship between the press and the British royal family.
Further, Harry says, “My kids are mixed race. When my kids grow up and say, ‘What did you do in this moment?’ I want to be able to give them an answer. If you bring a small person into this world, you should be doing everything you can to make the world a better place for them.”
“Books are written about our story,” Meghan says. “Doesn’t it make more sense to hear about our story from us?” Yes, it does.
In Harry & Meghan, Harry comes across as a well brought up, decent guy who is working hard to do the right thing. Meghan manages to be amazingly pretty in every lighting, every angle, with or without makeup. She smiles a sunny, all-American smile as big as all outdoors and she is shown exuding warmth in one public appearance after another. I recently had to give talks about my scholarly research and I think I looked like a deer in headlights the entire time: panicked eyes, clenched jaws, fingers counting the minutes till I could slink off camera. It’s not easy to radiate warmth to strangers in public, with cameras pointing at you. Meghan does this effortlessly. Her impact is clear: crowds love her. This viewer could not help but be moved watching Meghan embracing wide-eyed, worshipful, little black schoolgirls in the U.K., and charming white Brits waiting in line for hours just to have their moment of contact with this charismatic new member of the royal family.
Further, both Harry and Meghan, as this docuseries shows, have lifelong friends who are eager, publicly, to attest to their decency and worth. Harry’s school chums and fellow soldiers, Meghan’s former teachers and friends from seventh grade step forward. Their nanny, publicists, assistants and other employees, as well as those helped by their charities, also testify. If powerful media defamed me in the way that Harry and Meghan have been defamed, I would not be able to call on such a stalwart and courageous crew of character witnesses. Would you?
There’s another impression that many viewers of this docuseries comment on. Harry and Meghan are clearly in love with each other, and they have supported each other through rough waters.
Americans are rightly tired of race hoaxes. Some insist that Harry & Meghan is just one long play of the race card. It is not. Meghan grew up in a mostly white world. Her school photos show her in racially mixed classes, where many students are white. Her close friends are majority white. As her talent agent says, casting directors assumed her to be a “sun-kissed” white actress and cast her in white roles. The docuseries shows mixed, but mostly white crowds of British people expressing love and acceptance of Meghan. Meghan says that people had always assumed her to be white so she never had to have the “race talk.” When someone called her a mother a “n—–,” Meghan was shocked. Meghan is no Angela Davis. She’s not even Michelle Obama.
Harry & Meghan does not just claim, but rather it documents, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Meghan was a victim of potentially deadly racism. Racists created a concrete trail, in the form of an overwhelming number of visible documents: newspaper headlines, tweets, text messages, and threats.
Newspapers insisted that she was “Straight Outta Compton,” when in fact she’d never lived there. Photos of skid row were used to illustrate articles; she had grown up in suburbs. Other headlines repeatedly associated Meghan with crime, terrorism, drugs, and “trash.” Meghan was called a “gangster” and a “black sheep” whose “exotic DNA” caused “niggling worry.” After she gave birth to her and Harry’s first son, Danny Baker, a BBC presenter, tweeted an image of a man and a woman with a chimp, with the headline “Royal Baby Leaves Hospital.” Meghan was referred to as a “deviation.” A tweet read, “You can never remove the ghetto in her,” though, again, she had never lived in a ghetto. Another tweet called her a “publicity seeking c—.” One social media image depicts Harry being shot in the head, blood spurting, and the caption “See ya later race traitor.” Two British men said on their podcast that Harry should be “judicially killed for treason.” They also said that Harry and Meghan’s child is “an abomination that should be put down.” Someone sent the couple a white powder along with a racist note. An ugly caricature depicts Harry, Meghan, and their children in Kente cloth, celebrating Kwanzaa. One tweet announced that Harry and Meghan prove that “interracial marriage is a no go” Tweets frequently compare Meghan to a monkey, or simply use the N word.
Hatred against Meghan reached a fever pitch when, in December, 2022, journalist Jeremy Clarkson published the following in the Sun. “I hate her on a cellular level. At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her.”
Haters don’t revile Meghan just because they see her as black. They revile her because she is an actress, an American, and a commoner. A headline disparaged Meghan as “a ruthless social climbing actress who has landed the role of her life and is determined to milk it for all she can.” Another labeled her “the most successful social climber ever.” When she was pregnant, Meghan’s American friends threw a baby shower for her in New York City. The press called the baby shower “trashy and common.” Such British attitudes don’t just insult Meghan. They insult all Americans.
The press published disparaging family trees, comparing Harry, who descends from William the Conqueror, and Meghan, who descends from slaves. “Blood” is mentioned again and again, as if Harry and Meghan were horses or pedigreed dogs. Tweets accused Harry of putting his “genetic line in the shredder.”
In America, a former slave, Booker T. Washington, became an advisor to the president of the United States. The son of a bigamist, Ben Carson, became a noteworthy neurosurgeon and a cabinet member. The son of an alcoholic, Ronald Reagan, was elected president. A poor immigrant, Andrew Carnegie, rose to be the richest man in the world. Steve Jobs, an adoptee, changed the world. The British class-based value system would never allow the human progress that America’s worth-based system has allowed. Too many Brits are sunken in primitive, Pagan assessments of what makes us human. By the way, William the Conqueror was also known, accurately, as William the Bastard.
Yeah, well, you may be thinking. Everyone, in our tense time, has to deal with harassment. Harry himself said that his family members told Meghan just to put up with it because after all they are all harassed.
Except that’s just not true. Experts in personal security, internet bullying, and press analysis all report that attacks on Meghan broke records and were unlike anything else they’d ever seen. Steve Davies “has been providing celebrity and executive risk management services on a global basis for over 28 years.” He said that security for Harry and Meghan was the “most intense” situation he’d ever had to deal with. The threats against them “blew the meter right out of the water.”
Buzzfeed and other media compared British tabloid press coverage of Meghan with press coverage of Prince William’s wife, Kate Middleton, a white woman from an upper middle class, aristocratic background. In story after story, Kate is praised for doing exactly what Meghan is later condemned for doing, from eating avocados and touching her pregnant abdomen to carrying flowers.
Is the point of Harry & Meghan that most whites are racist? Not at all. Bot Sentinel, a company that analyzes tweets, found that a very small number of accounts were responsible for the vast majority of hateful content. Christopher Bouzy, Bot Sentinel CEO, says, “We’ve never seen anything quite like this;” however, there was a small number of accounts “that were highly coordinated and deeply networked and responsible for the vast majority of hate propaganda against the couple.” Just eighty-three accounts reached 17 million people. These eighty-three accounts were intensely active. They coordinated with each other on what to post and when. They recruited new members, and tutored those new members in use of VPNs to create multiple accounts. Who were these haters? Bouzy says that they were largely middle-aged, Caucasian housewives.
“A misogynist is a man who hates women as much as women hate one another,” H.L. Mencken said. Women’s envy is all too easy to understand, and all too sad.
Samantha Markle is Meghan Markle’s half sister. Samantha is seventeen years older than Meghan and Meghan, whose parents divorced, says that she did not grow up with Samantha. Once Meghan began to make headlines, Samantha stepped forward as a major source of anti-Meghan media. Why? One reason: tabloids pay significant sums for such material. Another possible reason. Samantha Markle was described by her daughter, Noelle Rasmussen, as a “vicious liar” and “crazy.” Rasmussen reports having been physically and psychologically abused by Samantha and her lover. Court records show that Samantha was found guilty of child abuse. Samantha’s other daughter, Ashleigh Hale, was, with her brother, removed from Samantha, and raised by her grandparents, who adopted her. Hale reports that Samantha was someone “you can’t reason with” and that Samantha felt “resentment” toward Meghan. Samantha has been placed on a list maintained by British law enforcement of dangerous persons who pose a threat to members of the royal family.
Harry & Meghan does address racism. It spends a great deal more time on another topic: the press. The docuseries presents the following paradigm. How, in this modern, more democratic era, do the British royals maintain power? The royals must allow the press to have access to their private lives, and exploit those private lives as soap opera fodder, in order to maintain popularity, money, and power.
Tim Burt, a public relations professional, says, “There’s a sort of unwritten contract between the institution and the press. The taxpayer pays for the royal family, and in return for those payments, there is an expectation that the royal family will be available to the media. ‘We pay; you pose.'”
A royal advisor says that there was a popular understanding that “Harry and Meghan had an obligation to perform, and if you didn’t you would fall out of favor, and any opportunity would be used to write negative [material] … Imagine all of these people who have published horrible things about you, have published horrible things about your family, have published horrible things about your mother, you’ve got to perform for them. It’s a real cutthroat business and with Meghan there was no limit.”
Harry says that the attitude of the press is, “This family is ours to exploit. Their trauma is our story and our narrative to control.” It’s like living through a soap opera, he says, where everybody else views you as entertainment. Much of how his family operates is based on “what it looks like rather than what it feels like.” The royals adopt this unhealthy approach because they are always on display, even in their private text messages. They do it, bluntly, for money. The only way a royal’s charities can succeed or his reputation can improve is if he is on the front page. The media are the ones who choose whom to put on the front page, so royals must dance to the tabloid’s tune.
To this American, the British power game sounds like a dressed-up form of prostitution on the part of the royals, and a sick, sad form of living vicariously on the part of royal watchers. This vicarious experience is so pathological that fans come to believe that they have the right to vet whom Harry married, and to destroy the woman he chose.
Harry describes “a dirty game,” wherein royals and their agents trade favors with the press. They may leak or invent stories to buttress their own power and diminish a competitor’s. If a negative story is about to break about a more important royal, a less important royal is sacrificed.
The agony that this “dirty game” causes royals is highlighted by the docuseries. It includes excruciating clips of reporters hounding Diana, chasing royal children, and nagging those children to smile against their will. Phones are hacked. Private conversations are revealed. Harry was given no time to recover from his mother’s death. Clips show reporters chasing him when he was only a child. It’s a wonder he’s grown into the man that he is.
Meghan’s childhood friends report being “ruthlessly” harassed by the press, and their family members being harassed as well. Later, these family members were quoted in the press saying things that “never happened or weren’t true at all.” One man was offered $70,000 to claim, falsely, that he’d had sex with Meghan. Meghan’s father and half sister sold false stories to the press.
Harry reports being “terrified” that the press would drive Meghan out of his life as they had driven out other friends and romances. And, of course, there is the lingering sense that press harassment contributed to his mother’s death in a tunnel car crash. One tweet said it would be funny if Meghan died in a tunnel. “I knew I had to do everything I could to protect my family,” Harry says.
At first, Harry and Meghan were “royal rockstars bigger than William and Kate.” Headlines declared that Meghan and Harry were voted among the world’s most influential people while Kate and William were snubbed. Another headline announced that Prince Harry was voted more popular than Elizabeth. Another headline warned, direly, “Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are Wildly Popular. That Could be a Problem.”
Every member of the royal family attended an event. Press coverage highlighted Meghan. Her picture was on the front page; her name was in the headlines. After that event, negative headlines about Meghan began to appear. Suddenly the press depicted Elizabeth calling Meghan a “diva.” A royal family advisor says, “When the institution saw that this new couple could destabilize the power dynamics, the aim was to put them in a box or make them irrelevant.”
The attacks affected Meghan’s mental health. She began to feel suicidal. The royal family refused her request to see a therapist. Her friends noted the change, and began to worry. They asked permission to speak up in her defense. “I was not allowed to say anything,” a friend said. In this void, detractors controlled the narrative. “Anything that anybody was saying wasn’t coming from anybody that knew her. There’s all this untruth. There’s all these lies.”
Harry asked his father Charles for help. Charles responded, “My darling boy, you can’t take on the media.”
“No one,” Harry says, “would have the private conversations with the editors saying ‘enough.’ … It was clear to the media that the palace was not going to protect her.” In another incident, the press published a story that Harry knew to be false, but that made his brother, William, the heir to the throne, look good. “Within four hours, they were happy to lie to protect my brother, and yet for three years they were never willing to tell the truth to protect us.”
Harry blames himself. “I dealt with it as institutional Harry as opposed to husband Harry. What took over my feelings was my royal role. I’d been trained to put the needs of the institution first. Looking back on it now, I hate myself for it.” He feels, he says, “devasted, angry, and ashamed.” When the press blames Meghan for his departure from the royal family, Harry says, “It’s misogyny at its best. Meghan was blamed for everything. It was my decision to leave. She never asked to leave.”
It’s clear that many non-white Britons understand Harry’s departure as at least partly the result of racism, and that perception will matter to British power structures in the years to come. “Their departure felt like the death of a dream,” says British author Afua Hirsch. Prof. David Olusoga says, “The royal family could not find it within themselves to protect Meghan.”
When I mocked Meghan on Facebook, I did so at least partly because I felt that I owed no sympathy to a rich and pretty woman luckier than I could hope to be. Tyler Perry, a black man, grew up in an abusive household. Not only was he beaten, but he was also sexually molested. In spite of his unfortunate childhood, he found it in himself to feel sympathy for Meghan. Perry says, “I saw my mother abused for years.” If someone asked him, “How dare you compare Meghan’s plight to the abuse of your mother?” Perry insists that Meghan was abused, as was his mother. “The institution did all the things a batterer would do. We’re going to cut off the money. We’re going to cut off security. We’re going to do all those things to make you comply and come back,” Perry says.
Though he had never met the couple, Perry offered Meghan and Harry his own home as a refuge when the two left Britain. He says that he had lived in the house for many years, surrounded by neighbors who are also celebrities. Once the British tabloids discovered Harry and Meghan’s location, Perry says, they were subjected to a round-the-clock “assault” that no one had ever seen. There were helicopters, drones, and people at night cutting the fence around the yard.
Harry & Meghan is a fascinating exposé of raw power. Harry & Meghan offers an opportunity for Americans to consider how lucky we are that we don’t have a monarchy. Thank you Founding Fathers. It says much, none of it pleasant, about modern Great Britain. Great Britain, not long ago, controlled an empire on which the sun never set. It has gotten smaller and less powerful. It is currently “a country in the grip of an increasingly deep malaise.” “Britain is undergoing a full-blown identity crisis. It is a ‘hollowed-out country,’ ‘ill at ease with itself,’ ‘deeply provincial,’ engaged in a ‘controlled suicide,'” according to concerned observers.
In the monarchy, Britons can find evidence of their own superiority. The British royal family is too good for “trashy, common” American actress Meghan Markle. Or so some-not-all Britons tell themselves, through the cruel and distasteful press lynching of a woman who only wanted to please them.
I played right into this power game. I prided myself on seeing through my friend Christine surrendering her heart, her attention, her tastes in music, and her money to the Beatles. I was too cool for that. I prided myself on refusing to join Judy’s cyber lynch mob against Nick Sandmann. I don’t share Uncle Jan’s Communist Party membership, but I do share his ownership of our identity as workers and peasants. I want to say with Diogenes, if I could not be Danusha, I would want to be Danusha, with all of her proletarian flaws.
But boy did I fall for manipulation around Meghan Markle. Powerful people wanted me to hate Meghan Markle so that they could sell newspapers, and distract my attention from Britain’s problems, and protect Elizabeth and her direct heirs, Charles and then William, from criticism, and so that my psychic energy could be harnessed to buttress Britons’ self conception as superior, in spite of their current woes.
Should conservatives care about my having been manipulated by the press? Heck, yes. In my piece on the ten reasons I left the left, I wrote, “Never, in all my years of leftist activism, did I ever hear anyone articulate accurately the position of anyone to our right. In fact, I did not even know those positions when I was a leftist.” These days, since I have learned to recognize the worth of conservative positions, I can barely stand, at times, to listen to NPR or read the New York Times, and I do both daily. They misrepresent us. We, of all people, should not surrender to manipulation when the press lies to us about a person they’ve chosen to scapegoat.
Danusha Goska is the author of God through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery.