No politics in Harry Potter

by Beacon Staff • October 31, 2007

And indeed, many parents are finding it necessary to follow his advice, as more concerns are raised about children's books indoctrinating the young.,In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth installment of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter septology, Professor Mad-Eye Moody would continually bark "Constant vigilance!" at his captivated pupils.

And indeed, many parents are finding it necessary to follow his advice, as more concerns are raised about children's books indoctrinating the young.

Two weeks ago, Rowling, a British author, announced that Albus Dumbledore, one of the most beloved Harry Potter characters, is a homosexual. The announcement predictably drew tremendous media coverage and objection or praise from dozens of groups, but the voices that resonated most carried claims that Rowling was trying to indoctrinate children with acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.

If Rowling really wanted to indoctrinate her young readers, she would have expounded upon Dumbledore's sexuality in the novel, instead of including it as an aside months later. The trend of indoctrination in children's books-not the Hogwarts headmaster's sexuality-is the more pressing issue.

More conspicuous books like Why Mommy Is A Democrat and Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under The Bed! have hit bookstore shelves in the past few years. These overtly political titles sound like a joke from The Colbert Report, but thousands of parents are sharing them with their children across the country.

The expressed purpose of these pint-sized propoganda manifestos is education of the young and impressionable. "Education" is the word favored by those who use these books.

But inculcating political stances and viewpoints at such a young age is not only immoral, it may actually be dangerous. The age range these texts target is eminently susceptible to suggestion. Parents should never have the power to play these kinds of games.

The dangers of such books are subjective: one parent's perception of indoctrination is another's education. Whatever the terminology, inflicting blatant political bias on a tractable child's mind is an ethical crime.

The effects of childhood suggestion can last a lifetime and potentially prevent a child from developing his or her own views. Compared with these assaults on childhood purity, the Harry Potter revelation is tame.

Those who cry out about the effect Harry Potter will have on children's opinions of homosexuality are some of the same social conservatives who complained about the books exposing children to witchcraft.

Laura Mallory, an activist who made numerous attempts to ban Harry Potter from British schools, said recently to ABC that, "Kids are being introduced into a cult and witchcraft practices."

However, even a cursory investigation of the author's intent will show that Rowling's goal was swift and effective storytelling, not political grandstanding. If there is a moral judgment in her novels, it is against racial and social prejudice (think Mudbloods), not heteronormative identity models.

Only a select few readers even guessed Dumbledore might be gay, which means that if Rowling was trying to indoctrinate her readers, she failed miserably.

In the propaganda-heavy Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!, brothers Tommy and Lou attempt to raise money for a new swing set with their lemonade stand, but are legislated out of business by liberals resembling senators Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.

The author, Katharine DeBrecht, has a clear political agenda she aims to impose on formless young minds.

Children should not be subjected to such blatant biases when they have not yet begun to develop their own opinions. Such actions hinder intellectual and personal growth.

Speaking on CNN on July 31, 2007, Jeremy Zilber, author of Why Mommy Is A Democrat, said, "No child is forced to read this book."

Any parent will admit this is groundless. Not many picture-book-age children choose what their parents buy for them, either.

However, just because some books don't support the values "our family supports," as one angry parent complained of King King, a children's book about a pair of gay princes, doesn't necessarily mean that they are indoctrinating and they should not be termed as such.

When commentary of the gentlest sort, as with Harry Potter, is slapped with the harsh, dictatorial connotations of indoctrination, it stym

ies the fundamental purpose of stories: to entertain while educating, allowing children to form-if they choose -the opinion for themselves.