Sunday, July 24, 2005

Harry Potter and the War against Terror

Both Slate and the Miami Herald wonder whether the latest Harry Potter is intended as a negative/anti-American commentary on the War against Terror:
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Voldemort takes up terrorism. The Dark Lord and his Death Eaters—who had gained strength in the earlier installments and have finally arrived in force—use their newfound power to spread fear in familiar ways. They destroy bridges. They murder innocents. They compel children to kill their elders....The response of the wizarding world also rings a few bells. The Ministry of Magic issues pamphlets on "Protecting Your Home and Family Against Dark Forces." Fred and George Weasley's shop makes a mint selling Shield Cloaks, which protect their wearers from harm. The new Minister of Magic jails an innocent man, hoping to stave off panic and create the impression that he's taking action. And Harry, Hermione, and Ron greet the morning paper with a familiar sense of dread: "Anyone we know dead?"
Slate, at least, concludes JK Rowling is just using all this as a plot device -- relying on elements familiar to contemporary readers to advance the story. But even if she's not, and there is an anti-Bush element here (with the ineffectual ministry of magic also urging Harry to cooperate with them to give the false impression they're actually succeeding in the war), at least she's also making clear that the enemy has a grudge against the rest of society which is not provoked by anything the society has done, which is real, and which they can't be talked or appeased out of.

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