Wednesday, June 07, 2006

They who must not be named

Sharing Hilowbetween's alarm about the nutters on the right, it is with great pleasure that I present a few clippings from one of my favorite books. I think that too little is said of the political content of one the great publishing phenomenons of our era, but then perhaps I am wrong. I just would probably never read that when I am still relishing the books themselves. And while I am never quite sure where the great JK Rowling political sympathies lie, my hat is off to her for presenting this kind of complicated and devious politcal maneuvering to literally zillions of kids and (not-such kids - like me !) This is all from chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

ʹWell, the main thing is to try and convince as many people as possible that You‐Know‐Who really has returned, to put them on their guard,ʹ said Bill. ʹItʹs proving tricky, though.ʹ


ʹBecause of the Ministryʹs attitude,ʹ said Tonks. ʹYou saw Cornelius Fudge after You‐Know‐Who came back, Harry. Well, he hasnʹt shifted his position at all. Heʹs absolutely refusing to believe itʹs happened.ʹ

This is all in a discussion of where Voldemort has been and what troubles face the Order. When I read this, I think of infallible Mr. Rumsfeld and Karl Rove steadfastly refusing to initiate any sort of realistic look at Islamic terrorism or fundamentalism. This is followed by:
ʹBut why?ʹ said Harry desperately. Whyʹs he being so stupid? If Dumbledore ‐ʹ

ʹAh, well, youʹve put your finger on the problem,ʹ said Mr Weasley with a wry smile. ʹDumbledore.ʹ

ʹFudge is frightened of him, you see,ʹ said Tonks sadly.

ʹFrightened of Dumbledore?ʹ said Harry incredulously.

Frightened of what heʹs up to,ʹ said Mr Weasley. ʹ s plotting to overthrow him. He thinks Dumbledore wants to be Minister for Magic.ʹ

But Dumbledore doesnʹt want ‐ʹ

Of course he doesnʹt,ʹ said Mr Weasley. ʹHeʹs never wanted the Minister even though a lot of people wanted him to take it when Millicent Bagnold retired. Fudge came to power instead, but

heʹs never quite forgotten how much popular support Dumbledore had, even though Dumbledore never applied for the job.ʹ

That's the problem with people who are blinded by the paranoia that comes with feeling full entitled superiority, superiority that comes from racial and religious dogma. They believe that everyone wants what they've got, even when they have very little.
accepting that Voldemortʹs back would mean trouble like the Ministry hasnʹt had to cope with for nearly fourteen years,ʹ said Sirius bitterly. ʹFudge just canʹt bring himself to face it. Itʹs so much more comfortable to convince himself Dumbledoreʹs lying to destabilise him.ʹ
Accepting that politics and democracy are tough games to play would mean dealing with world issues that the business community has not had to face since the end of World War 2 and the McCarthy period. Right now, the nutters of the right wing are playing in the shadow of a monstrous system that they created, all the while pretending to be so morally up-standing. They've put murderers and criminals into the highest offices of the land and where is it gonna get them ? You think that one of them would share a cell with Bill Frist or Dennis Hastert ? Would Ralph Reed ? It is so much more comfortable to convince themselves that the world is against them and hopefully it is all going to end soon.
Voldemort doesnʹt march up to peopleʹs houses and bang on their front doors, Harry,ʹ said Sirius. ʹHe tricks, jinxes and blackmails them. Heʹs well‐practised at operating in secret. In any case, gathering followers is only one thing he's interested in. Heʹs got other plans too, plans he can put into operation very quietly indeed, and heʹs concentrating on those for the moment.

Whatʹs he after apart from followers?

He thought he saw Sirius and Lupin exchange the most fleeting of looks before Sirius answered.

Stuff he can only get by stealth.ʹ
It's probably widely thought that Voldemort somehow represents Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaeda and presumably then everyone against them is part of the 'wizarding community.' But the more interesting side of the politics of the later Harry Potter books is in the mixed and disingenious meanderings of the Ministry of Magic itself. By constantly worrying about his own position in power, the minister of magic leaves himself open to manipulations by the very people closest to Voldemort/Bin Laden. Sound like that UAE ports deal to you ? Who is supposed to read this stuff ? 14 year olds ? I can't imagine that anyone much younger than that really appreciates the nuances of political intrigue.

Part of the reason I am posting this is in response to Highlowbetweens well placed concern, but I think the 14 million pumped-up number provided by the publishers of that Rapture book series are right to worry about whether Harry Potter is corrupting their kids. Those kids might just see what a bunch of Racial Purist Death Eaters their freak parents really are.

1 comment:

  1. hope you are right. I did some minor digging and the Left Behind series sold 40 million copies - not 14 million. Christian Evangelical Identity is a growing power politic. Its not so fringe. So many want to position themselves as outside the ways of the world. The victim, holder of the secrect truth that the corrupt world despises and plots against. You can insert the "Liberal Media" or the "Secular State" as the boogey man intent on killing faith of the true believer - the marginilazed truth seeker. Also don't forget that only 28% of American think evolution is real.
    I gotta pick up one of those Potter books!