Shared Text: Harry Potter and the War Against Terror

Harry Potter and the Islamization of America.’ (Hat Tip to Grant!)

There are points I find unlikely in this American Thinker piece, most notably that Ms. Rowling was writing either a tit-for-tat historical allegory of the Second World War’s European theatre or a satire of the present day denial of danger concerning Islamic terrorists. What I think is undeniable in this writer’s argument is that Harry Potter, as the Shared Text of this generation of readers, ages “nine to ninety,” is the perfect vehicle to score political points via creative exegesis. Everyone knows the stories so mavens of every stripe can speak to their respective flocks using their language and power as touchstones of their ideological positions.

Look for a repeat of “Republicans for Voldemort 2012” on bumper stickers in your neighborhood soon.


  1. Mary Ellen says

    Rowling is not old enough to have had direct experience of World War II, but she has lived through Britain’s struggle against IRA and Islamic terrorism and involvement in the current war in Afghanistan, so it wouldn’t be surprising if some of that seeped into the HP series. On a side note, I remember one news interview with a group of Boston college kids wildly celebrating on the night Bin Laden was killed; they told reporters that for their generation Bin Laden was the arch villain, their Voldemort, and of course they had to celebrate.

    For an excellent analysis of how war influenced another fantasy writer check out this terrific post from Nancy Marie Ott on J.R.R. Tolkein’s service in World War I and how it might have shaped his fiction:

  2. I prefer to imagine that she is railing against some unnamed evil. Every age has their challenges and it makes the series more universal and timeless if it is not tacked to a specific ideology.
    The individual, fighting evil as a concept, in whatever form it might take will always be relevant
    With all due respect, being a bit older, my politics are a bit more conservative than Rowlings. Political satire does not always age well, especially as time goes on and more information is added to the pot. Heroes can become zeroes…

  3. We have such a tendency to caricature historical figures that Voldemort could be any number of evil dictators. Although, the fact that Voldemort was never eager to simply declare himself Minister for Magic makes me think that it is more modern day terrorism rather than WW2 that has seeped into the book subconsciously.

  4. Mary Ellen says

    Jenny, I think you are making a very good point. Voldemort’s rule was more about inducing fear than gaining conventional power. Many of his methods (operating in the shadows, striking apparently random targets, killing massive numbers of people without reason) are common to most contemporary terrorist organizations. His ostensible goal (purifying wizard bloodlines) seems to me to be more of an excuse for creating terror and a way to attract certain useful followers than a real ideological stance.

    Of course Hitler and Stalin used similar terrorist tools, but their goals seem more fully organized and, in a way, more conventional than those of the Death Eaters and Al Qaeda.

    DV, Professor Snape would agree with you that each generation has its own version of evil to fight: “The Dark Arts are many, varied, ever-changing and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible. Your defences must therefore be as flexible and inventive as the Arts you seek to undo.”

  5. But in the end, Voldemort is going after conventional power, as he infiltrates the ministry and turns all the rules and regulations inside out to suit his dark goals. Unfortunately, ruling via terrorism is rather easy to sustain whether is is conventional or not, as we have examples all around us. lovely quote.

  6. Lest we think that John was joking about “Republicans for Voldemort”, I actually saw that on a bumper sticker a few years ago and mentioned it to him. Neither one of us was really confident in which side it was supposed to represent.

    Also, since Christmas is for kids “from 1 to 92”, does that mean it’s more universal than Harry?

  7. I saw the bumper sticker as well, and given that I am a conservative it confused me mightily and also bothered me, as though it had been co-opted. My more liberal leaning friends felt the sticker was accurate. I was inclined to disagree with them.Guess anything can be interpreted any number of ways, including Harry Potter. Makes for good conversation though.

  8. Sylvie D. Rousseau says

    I am not American but I was personally told by a Democrat activist that they call themselves the “good guys”, meaning obviously the “others” are the bad guys. So, as the habit to demonize Republicans is well known, this bumper sticker could very well have been issued by malicious anti-conservatives of some sort.

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