Harry Potter and George Bush


Damian Penny links to a post by James Lileks talking about how the theme of many Democrats these days is that terrorism is invented; George Bush is the only threat:

As Teddy Kennedy said in his convention speech: “The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.” It’s really quite simple, isn’t it? We live in a manufactured climate of fear ginned up by war-crazed neocon overlords. There is no threat. The only thing we have to fear is Bush, who sits as we speak in the Oval Office sucking the marrow from Whoopi’s shin-bones.

If so, I wonder why anyone agreed to the stringent security policies that characterize this year’s conventions. Why the bomb-sniffing dogs? Why the snipers? Why the metal detectors, the invasive inspection of bags? Is it all an elaborate defense against Bush crashing the party and setting off a bomb belt, shouting God is Great, y’all!

No, they’re fearful of something else.

Damned if I know what, though. Damned if I know.

Reading this reminded me of something, and I racked my brain until I realized what it was: the same thing happened in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

(Er, for those of you who haven’t read all five books yet, what are you waiting for? And, um, spoiler alert.)

The parallels are uncanny: the real world is fearful of Islamist terrorism. The wizarding world is fearful of Voldemort. In both cases, it’s easier — and more reassuring — to believe that a known, relatively benign quantity is inventing the threat for some self-serving purpose. It sets our mind at ease to assume that, without Bush, the problems will disappear. Just as it set the minds of the wizards at ease to believe that Harry Potter and Dumbledore were inventing the story of Voldemort’s return in order to serve their own ends. To face the other possibility — that they were telling the truth — was too frightening for people to contemplate.

Dumbledore — the wise, great Hogwart’s headmaster — is certainly no comparison to George W. Bush. But the theory is the same. There’s something real behind the politics, the hype, or the threat. But much of the Western world is in denial.

In Harry Potter’s world, he and Dumbeldore had to suffer for a better part of a year before the truth of Voldemort’s return was made obvious to even those people who most wanted to deny it. In reality, one would assume that September 11th was evidence enough of the reality of the threat of terror — but the real world doesn’t even take that as proof. With idiots like Michael Moore calling 9/11 “fiction”, and the conspirazoid-freaks talking about how Israel, or Bush, or a Zionist cabal, or some combination thereof, were really behind the attacks… it’s easier to blame and attack what you don’t fear, than to face what you do, I suppose.

Just one more way in which Harry Potter’s world mirrors our own. And, in both cases, we’re stuck waiting for the next installment to see how it ends.

Update: Seems I’m not the only Canadian with Harry Potter on the brain these days.

Update #2: Jonathan had similar reflections last year when he first read Order of the Phoenix. He’s pegged the book as pro-war, and is bemused by the fact that it was penned by a self-described leftist. Go figure.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tali 07.30.04 at 1:35 AM


I suggest you read a copy of John Edwards’s speech from last night, or Obama’s speech from the night before before declaring that the Dems have ignored terrorism.

The bulk of Edwards’s speech was on terrorism and security, and Obama’s had a short, but VERY forceful section on it -roughly “Terrorists: We will hunt you down and destroy you” -that got loud applause from the floor. Kerry’s script for tonight has already been leaked and it, too, is about 1/2 about security and terrorism.

You’ve also taken the Kennedy quote out of context – the last part of his speech was a rallying cry to unite the democratic party. It’s in that context that he said the only thing to fear is Bush – not in the context of identifying issues effecting the nation.

Secondhand sources are fine at times, and I, too, read lots of hawks because of their good terrorism coverage. Partisan Republicans are, however, not the best source of info on the Democratic convention. (and vice versa)

NPR has all the actual speeches linked from the main page http://www.npr.org The Boston Herals also has transcripts online.


2 segacs 07.30.04 at 4:13 AM

Er, I wasn’t suggesting that all Democrats are ignoring terrorism. Merely that terrorism has little to do with Democrat or Republican. It’s not about the election, as so many Americans would have us think. It’s about freedom, democracy, and an entire way of life.


3 Tali 07.30.04 at 11:17 AM

Yes, it is…and the speeches at the DNC have mostly spoken about just that idea.

My point above is that, contrary to your post, the democratic convention has absolutely NOT adopted the idea that terrorism is an invented threat.

Bleats, LGF, and other right-wing bloggers are not good sources for summaries of goings-on at the convention. (Using them for your info is like using The Nation, Z Magazine, and indymedia.com for coverage of the RNC.) Of course, read both sides of the political divide – but using partisans as your sole source of info leads to distortions.

In this case, the Bleats post is just wrong. It misrepresents the discussin at the DNC and quotes Kennedy out of context to create a negative impression. Not surprising, since its a partisan site…


4 segacs 07.30.04 at 4:25 PM


Tali, again, I’m not implying that all Democrats or even that the majority of people at the DNC are in denial about terrorism. Certainly, efforts to give Kerry an image that’s tough on terror belies that.

Nor am I pro-Bush or partisan to Republicans (as I should think would be obvious by reading this blog).

I’m only saying that there is a faction of the far left that prefers to blame Bush for all the problems than to blame terrorists. And that this particular quote fits in nicely with that.


5 Tali 07.31.04 at 8:07 PM

I agree with you there – there is a faction of the left that wants to ignore the problem

There’s similar stuff on the far right: the Buchananites are of the opinion that total US isolationism and withdrawal from the war on terrorism will solve the problem. That’s one reason Buchanan can work with Nader. This faction is not small, either: American Conservative has a pretty big readership.

As far as I am concerned, both the Mooreites and the Buchananites are nuts, and both are also clearly driven by a certain amount of anti-Semitism (both think that Israel and US support for Israel are the sole causes of the middle east’s problems.)
The Moore-ites ignore the threat of political Islam because of inflated multiculturalism. The Buchananites ignore it because they are inclined to respect fundamentalist beliefs and to see Christian (particularly Catholic) fundies as the only real Americans. So they believe that if the “real” Americans were in charge, we would have similr values to the Islamic states and nothing to fight about!

I know you aren’t a right winger, Segacs. I just think you are underestimating the Democrats’ success in getting the Moore-ites offstage. Similarly, I suspect that we will be hearing very little from the American Conservative at the RNC.

So there is good news: NEITHER party is running on an “ignore the fact that we’re at war” platform. Yay! Now we just have to get through the election and WIN the war.


6 segacs 07.31.04 at 8:51 PM

As far as I am concerned, both the Mooreites and the Buchananites are nuts, and both are also clearly driven by a certain amount of anti-Semitism (both think that Israel and US support for Israel are the sole causes of the middle east’s problems.)


The wingnuts are all nuts – on both wings. I’m not pro-Bush or pro-Kerry; I’m not left-wing or right-wing. Hope that’s understood. If not, read this or this.


7 Vancouver Eric 08.01.04 at 2:45 AM

“Er, for those of you who haven’t read all five books yet, what are you waiting for?”

You know, I remember not too long ago, you were giving me crap for recommending these books to you.


8 segacs 08.01.04 at 5:57 AM

Did you? I don’t recall. I was a bit late getting into them but Alison and Richard convinced me eventually and I’m now a thoroughly converted fan.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: