In times such as these we are currently living, when the future of politics and our very society seems so uncertain, it is commonplace to turn towards those who have inspired us to seek comfort and motivation to press forward, despite what obstacles appear to lie ahead. For many millennials, one of the literary pillars of our collective childhood was the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
Not only did this series and the trio of Ron, Hermione and Harry confirm our love of reading, but their struggle to fight the hatred, violence and the falsehoods perpetuated by Voldemort and his supporters are becoming ever more relatable in light of the current political climate. And for those who say it’s immature to take inspiration from a “children’s book series,” no offense, but millennials largely did not vote for the human embodiment of a child’s temper tantrum.
Oh J.K. Rowling, how could you predict then when you were writing about Cornelius Fudge’s stubborn pride and ignorance that caused him to deny the warning signs of Voldemort returning to power, that just a few year later, major media outlets would turn a blind eye to hateful rhetoric powerful enough to elect Donald Trump to the highest office in the land, and #Brexit would become a reality?
Indeed, nationalism is on the rise and is spreading, much like the call to maintain pure-blood status became a rallying cry in Rowling’s universe. In such times, remember that an opportunity arises for offbeat and struggling news sources to make a difference, by simply telling the truth.
Just as the Quibbler became an unexpected voice of reason when the Daily Prophet failed to point out the obvious, political satire programs such as The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight as well as news outlets that include The New York Times, The Washington Post and ProPublica have the chance to speak the truth and have a positive impact on current political affairs.
As Harry and company quickly realized, source check everything you see and hear (especially on social media), and settle for nothing less than the truth.
Mudbloods, Werewolves and House Elves
It has often been described that social change often takes one step forward, and two steps back; likely, because as marginalized groups gain equality, those in power fear that they will be made to pay for their past cruelty if those they once oppressed rise against them.
Three of the greatest examples of this from within Rowling’s work are the struggles of “Mudbloods,” Werewolves and House Elves. Mudbloods, or wizards who come from non-magical parents, are looked down upon by pure-blood wizards, who view them as being of a lower class than themselves.
Despite being the most brilliant witch of the trio’s year, Hermione endures endless taunts about her parents being non-magical, specifically from pure-blood extremist Draco Malfoy. And she wasn’t alone. This parallel can be made to the plight of undocumented immigrants in the United States and refugees around the world who not only struggle to survive on an hour by hour and day by day basis, but face extreme bigotry and marginalization when attempting to start a new life in a safer homeland.
Due to the rise of nationalism in America and around the world, refugees and immigrants are being painted as rapists, drug dealers and violent criminals to prevent them from being welcomed. All this despite the fact that many of these individuals are women and young children, desperately fleeing violent situations and are simply looking for peace and acceptance. Similarly, Rowling has advocated that the treatment of werewolves, particularly Remus Lupin, was meant to be an allegory for the discrimination faced by those with AIDS and other ailments with strong stigma and prejudice attached to them.
The treatment of House Elves as less than human can be seen as a mirror to the discrimination faced by other groups that have been marginalized and faced extreme discrimination–particularly in this election season in America, that includes Muslims, LGBTQ+ individuals, the disabled, women, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans and African Americans. The list goes on. As Sirius Black reminds us, “if you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
To put it lightly, there is a whole lot of negativity in our world right now. From the fall of Aleppo, to the bitter wounds of those still felt in both American political parties after the most tumultuous election in living memory, to the protests at Standing Rock, this past year has seen protests, anger and bigotry like many of us have never seen before.
At times, watching the news can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the challenges that lie ahead. Similarly, our favorite Gryffindors, at the height of Voldemort’s rise to power, also had to contend with dementors literally creating a mist of negative thoughts that perpetrated the landscape. These creatures had the ability to suck out one’s soul, unless they were overpowered by happiness and light. Although when faced with fear and negativity, it is easy to resort to physical and emotional violence in retaliation, real courage comes from seeing light among the darkness, and retaliating by advocating for truth, and justice.
Yes, much about the future seems uncertain. Dark times may lie ahead. But never underestimate the value of your friends and family, let each person who is important to you be another reason to not give up hope, to educate yourself about the issues at hand. After all, it was always Ron and Hermione that made any of Harry’s extraordinary accomplishments possible. And remember the wise words of the youngest Weasley, “You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”
Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.