On the occasion of Harry Potter's 20th birthday, there's been an upsurge in comparisons to modern politics.
J.K. Rowling herself is a raging liberal, firing off anti-Trump tweets. Other liberals compare themselves to the protagonist witches and wizards of Potterland, fighting an epic battle with the racist Trump/Voldemort.
The NYT's Ross Douthat,
picking up on the blogger Spotted Toad
, does a fine job
of analyzing the ultimately un-liberal plot structure of Harry Potter.
Yours truly, almost one year to the day earlier, said the exact same thing about the You're Magic-or-You're-Not dichotomy. [The Racial Hypocrisy Magic of JK Rowling
,June 7, 2016]
Point of blogger privilege
Ross Douthat read my blog
(or it filtered up to him through the Internet), or I've got the same powers of perception he does. Only, by reading me, you get them a full year earlier. Which in turn means a couple of things: I should be getting paid what he's paid, and you should be donating more
But there are other ways in which Harry Potter, though loved by liberals, tracks the ultimately anti-liberal Lord of the Rings
spirit. Like LOTR, Potter taps deeply into the imaginative, druidic world of old Europe (and the British Isles), hearkening to a time of castles, swords, maidens and honor, and secrets of the deep, dark forest.
Absent are blacks, Hispanics, Muslim terrorists and transgender Sesame Street characters.
White people love it, because it rouses their racial spirit animals in ways that so much of modern society doesn't. We aren't excited by bureaucracy, socialism-as-religion, feminism, multiculturalism, globalism. The Biblical tales of sandal-clad, robe-wearing Middle Easterners traipsing through deserts are an awkward fit for white people, who struggle to identify with them.
There is a theological point to Jesus using his magical powers to heal the sick and raise the dead, but no living white person isn't also excited by the wizard's power to make dishes wash themselves, cars fly, and kill enemies with the flick of a wand.
So the syncretism of a Presbyterian minister looking for Potter/Jesus comparisons is understandable.
In The Sound of Music,
we're treated to a story line that's supposedly anti-Nazi, with the famous family of singers fleeing
the German takeover of Austria. But the gorgeous and sweeping scenes of the Alps, the all-white, Aryan-looking cast, and that enchanting ball scene with the Viennese waltz
are all powerfully affirming of Euro-traditionalism. I wholeheartedly endorse my kids watching it, instead of, you know, Save the Last Dance.
So as a big Harry Potter fan myself, I chortle to realize that Rowling's didactic egalitarian overlay would be dead on arrival without the Euro-traditionalism framing.