Harry Potter and the prisoner of political correctness

By Barry Rubin

News item: The Iranian establishment daily Kayhan, July 26, 2007, criticized officials there for allowing the sale of the new Harry Potter book, claiming the series is a Zionist project in order to disrupt the minds of young people. — MEMRI

From the text:

“The main thing is to try and convince as many people as possible that You-Know-Who came back, Harry….[Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge] is absolutely refusing to believe it’s happened.”

“But why?” said Harry desperately. “Why’s he being so stupid?”…

“Because accepting that Voldemort’s back would mean trouble….”

“It’s hard to convince people he’s back, especially as they really don’t want to believe it in the first place.”

–Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, pp. 93-94.

Harry Potter was angry. He had been used to all the abuse and criticism, the danger and adventure, the fear that Lord Voldemort would return and turn the world into a living hell for wizard and Muggle alike. But why were people who should have defended their civilization pretending that nothing was happening or even becoming apologists for the other side.

There it was, the lead story in the Daily Prophet newspaper:

“Minister Fudge Urges Engagement; Accuses Harry Potter of Voldemortphobia”

“What’s going on here,” Harry said angrily. “I personally saw Voldemort gathering his followers but when I read the Daily Prophet it would seem there is no real threat. And now they want to negotiate with Voldemort?”

“That’s not all,” Hermione explained. “The newspaper is trying to make you sound deluded for exposing the truth.”

“Yes,” Ron added, ”and there are a lot of people now who favor giving aid to Voldemort in order—they claim–to moderate him.”

Certainly, the MSMM (Mainstream Magical Media), had long been blind to the return of Voldemort and his Death Eater movement. The Order of the Phoenix, the group formed to fight Voldemort, had a lot of blogs but the followers of You-Know-Who seemed to control all too many of the biggest institutions. Even on the Internet, Draco Malfoy had even developed one of the most popular blogs of all, “The Daily Draco” and some of the blander naïf’s from one of Hogwarts’ houses had created the “Hufflepuff Post.”

Harry just didn’t understand. How could anyone not see the terrible things going on around the world: the suicide bombing attacks; the organized incitement of hatred, the attempt by an extremist movement to take over and enslave millions of people? Why were they constantly attacking the victims and ridiculing those trying to expose these dangers, distorting their words and slandering their characters?

Even Hogwarts could no longer be counted on to fight the threat. The school had been taken over by teachers who brainwashed students into thinking that the Voldemort movement was all the fault of Dumbledore and others trying to fight it. The Death Eaters’ deeds were simply being exaggerated, said the professors. They had grievances, after all, and if only these were addressed and understood, there wouldn’t be any conflict. And hadn’t all wizards committed crimes in the past? Let him who was without sin cast the first spell. This was certainly the line taken by the Magical Events Studies Association, the organization of those who held such views, producing studies like, “Dementors: Legitimate Resistance As A Response to Oppression.”

Nothing could be taken for granted. No matter what the other side did there was always some excuse made to rationalize it. With Voldemort working to develop extreme new magical weapons and threatening to wipe the Muggles off the face of the earth, there were those who explained that his statements were being taken out of context. He was merely expressing the hope that they would come to see the error of their ways and peacefully commit suicide.

Moreover, despite Dumbledore’s efforts to block aid or negotiations with Voldemort, delegations were constantly traveling to his headquarters, posing with him in photo opportunities. He was really quite nice in person, visitors explained. And he really does want peace. After all, he said so and why would Lord Voldemort tell a lie?

But of course, as popular as the Harry Potter series has been it is still just a set of novels about a fantasy situation. Thank goodness nothing like this could happen in the real world.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs, and author of the recently published The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

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