Tag Archive | Harry Potter

Political Correctness and the Ministry of Magic

Since that awful day on September 11th, 2001, I have watched in perplexity as politically correct Progressivism has tied itself into knots to deny that we are in a war against Islam. Some will want to chastise me for saying that, but it’s true. Islam is the enemy, not radical Islam, but Islam itself, for no one can be a radical Islamist without first being a follower of Islam. Islam is a religion, an ideology, a governmental system, and a way of life that is completely incompatible with the West and our freedoms. In Islam there is no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, no freedom for women, and no freedom for those of other faiths and lifestyles.

Never have I seen such a passion as I have in the past couple of weeks by fellow Americans to assure me that Islam is a “religion of peace.” If only they had a tenth of that passion for defending their own country and their own religion (some of these defenders are Christians), what a different world that might be. Instead, fellow Americans, including those in our government are much like the Ministry of Magic in the Harry Potter series in their increasingly ridiculous attempts to deny that Voldemort has return—I mean that radical Islamists are causing terror around the world. Forget Islam in general, even calling the radicals terrorists is a bridge too far for some, and I have to wonder, is that reason fear? Are Islamists “they who must not be named?”

If you’ve read Harry Potter, you know that as the hero and his friends try to thwart the evil magician’s plans that they are continually hampered at every turn by the very politically correct Ministry of Magic, the UK magical world’s government. The Ministry refuses at times to even acknowledge there’s a threat. They chastise Harry for every un-PC action and are not even willing to give him a chance to explain himself. They put him on trial for breaking a law without wanting to listen to the reason he broke it. Harry illegally uses magic to ward off soul-sucking creatures that are attacking him and and his non-magical cousin (a cousin he thoroughly detests, yet chooses to save, btw). Instead of investigating why these dangerous Dementors who are supposed to be guarding a magical high-security prison are instead attacking teens, the Ministry chooses to try and strip Harry of using magic, maliciously attempting to leave him defenseless.

Farther into the series, Ministry official Dolores Umbridge (love that name) refuses to even let the Hogwarts students continue learning Defense Against the Darks Arts. No need for self-defense, government’s got it, right? Gun control, anyone? Watch or read Order of the Phoenix and tell me that Umbridge’s whole schtick isn’t a mirror image of the current “safe spaces” movement where one doesn’t want to hear anything unpleasant, un-PC, or anything resembling the truth. Tell me it doesn’t illustrate a perfect picture of an inept government unable to protect its citizens, while at the same time dismissing their very real fears and experiences, and even worse, denying them the right to defend themselves.

The prankster Weasley twins, Fred and George, represent the best of Libertarianism as they tease Umbridge at every turn, bringing laughter and joy to students as she tries to suck it out of them with rule after politically correct rule. Adding even more insult, Fred and George drop out of school to start a thriving, creative business that in no way needs the Ministry’s help to succeed. They are the very picture of Entrepreneurship and Capitalism.

The most disturbing part in comparing PC puritans with the Ministry of Magic is that in the end it was discovered that the Ministry itself was infiltrated by Voldemort’s supporters. Just why is it so neccessary for our government to deny Islam as the root cause for most of the terrorism going on in the world? What’s really at stake here? Bad enough if it’s merely fear worrying them (As an aside, defending Islam won’t save one if Islamists do take over. One’s house, like the Voldy-loyal Malfoy family, will be the first to be occupied. One’s safety will be constantly in question as one must cave to increasingly more uncomfortable demands, the final demand which may even be one’s life or the lives of those one holds dear), what if the motivation is more because they share commonalities with the Islamists or are even supporters of jihad themselves? At this stage in the game, is seems a reasonable question to ask.  Anyone remember good old Andrew McCarthy? He called out numerous people in the U.S. government for being Communists and Communist sympathizers (another ideology incompatible with our freedoms). They don’t bother to tell one in school today, but turns out Andrew McCarthy was right.

We can debate all day long over what to do about terrorism, both foreign and domestic, but we cannot even have that discussion if we don’t acknowledge what it is we’re up against. Islam is at the center of terrorism today. The first step in defeating the extremists is in acknowledging this fact. So interested are we in puffing ourselves up in “tolerance” (we’re just so awesome and special and PC) that we are putting ourselves and our countries in very real danger. How many more people must be slaughtered before we wake up? Let me also add, this denial has been an issue for the U.S. before, namely in not recognizing the great threat that Hitler and his Nazis presented to the free world. J.K. Rowling’s depiction of the Ministry of Magic echoes the very real history that we are dooming ourselves to repeat. Our current government is threatening those who would speak any ill against Islam. Is this a direction that will keep a free society free? Is this a direction that will help in the fight against terrorism?

Let’s take note from Harry and Co. and press on despite the idiocy of political correctness. Let us take on the threat calmly and firmly, forgiving those like Malfoy, who will eventually realize they are fighting for the wrong side and will wish to come back to the right one. Let us accept them back with open arms. Let us join together with those who love freedom. More than that, let us speak up for love, goodness, and faith. Let us speak up for America and for the West and the good they have done for the world. Let us speak up for freedom of speech and for freedom of religion, both of which are so important to the sharing of the Christian gospel that Christ died for our sins so we could live (ok, shameless plug, but it’s honestly the best news in the world).

Let us speak up for self-defense and against the lies that we are mere children who should have no say in our own security. Let us speak up for the fact that although most Muslims may be peaceful, their religion is not. Let us speak up for the fact that a Republic and a Democracy are better than Sharia. Let us speak up for the fact that both men and women are worthy sexes, that both play key roles in society, roles which should be cherished, not reduced to a burka. Let us speak up for the truth and let us not allow lies to flourish. Let us be free in the truth, even when the truth is painful or difficult to hear. Politically correct lies are cancerous tumors that can only be exorcised with the sword of truth. Let us ridicule PC-dom with so much truth and joy that like Umbridge against the Weasley twins it is left exhausted and maybe even a little impressed by our living  so brazenly without it.

(This post has been updated to fix some typos.)

The Next Harry Potter–Part 2 of 3

2. Monster Blood Tattoo.

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This series is a big reason why I miss Borders.  If it hadn’t been at Borders I would have missed out on D.M. Cornish’s incredible world, for the new “American” series title and artwork are not nearly as dynamic as the first cover and title that caught my eye.  I fell in love with MBT upon reading the first book, The Foundling, and was sad to see it was months before I saw it on the shelves of my local Barnes and Noble.  One of Borders biggest strengths, in my opinion, was that they had a lot of awesomeness waiting to be discovered on their shelves.

Monster Blood Tattoo is the rightful name of this series, but for some reason it was deemed that Americans are too sensitive or something for this title, so it was changed to the bland The Foundling’s Tale.  For me it will ever and always be Monster Blood Tattoo, and I will hereafter refer to the series as MBT.  Australian author and illustrator D.M. Cornish spent some fifteen plus years creating the world of the Half-Continent.  Think Napoleanic-era empire crossed with monsters and monster hunters.  The result is as epic and as Tolkien’s Middle Earth with the addition of wonderful hand-drawn portraits of the characters.  Add the lengthy, fascinating appendices, and it’s a veritable role-playing game waiting for geekdom.

The Foundling’s Tale as a name isn’t so far off, at least for the first three books (I am hoping there will be more), as it follows an orphan boy with a girl’s name, a kid who wants to be a monster fighter but ends up being a lamplighter on the emperor’s highway.  Much like Harry Potter, Rossamünd has to continually reassess his view of world and the people and/or creatures in it.  At times he’s just plain dumb, but then he’s a kid.  The best character in the series is bonafide monster hunter Europe the “Branden Rose.”  She’s one of those hard shell-soft core people for whom Rossamünd presents a dilemma.  He insists on seeing the, well, “human” side of monsters, whereas Europe has grown up seeing them as threats only.  She’s even had her organs surgically altered so she can fight the monsters with lightening.  Interestingly, in the Half-Continent the majority of the monster hunters are women.

Why this could be The Next Harry Potter:  Despite its rather simplistic plot at times, the series has great depth and great potential.  Cornish has built a vast world meant to be explored in its minutest detail.  The world and story can appeal to a wide audience, both kids and adults, and would easily adapt to the screen.  The biggest challenge would be the terminology, as Cornish uses quite a few made up words much like HP or LOTR, but a talented screen writer would be able to incorporate these no problem. The series also boasts a wealth of interesting characters, both humans and monsters, political and social commentary, and the important theme that people and creatures be judged not merely for what they are, but for what they do and how they act.

Up next time:  The Kingdom

The Next Harry Potter–Part 1 of 3

As anyone who is a fan of books and/or movies knows, the popularity of the Harry Potter series with both kids and adults is something the entertainment industry has long been trying to replicate.  Many books have been hailed as “The Next Harry Potter,” in order to get more readers and then viewers if the book becomes a movie.  Some of these have failed and some have succeeded, and a few like Twilight have become their own phenomenons.

The next Harry Potter, the next Twilight, the next Hunger Games, we’re always looking for the next big thing.  In searching for the “next” and wanting to be first on the bandwagon, we sometimes miss stories that are already there, books that with the right marketing, screenwriter, and stars could make excellent movie franchises.  Here are three that I would like to see on the big screen:

1. The Oz series.

Most people are familiar with the iconic 1939 The Wizard of Oz movie starring Judy Garland.  It is a film that made excellent use of color vs. b&w, and introduced “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a near spiritual hymn that is deeply entrenched in our collective psyche to this day.

What many don’t know is that the author of The Wizard of Oz, Frank L. Baum, wrote thirteen other books about the Land of Oz, some including Dorothy, some not.  Over the years, a few of these books have been produced as a cartoon, video, or film, the most recent effort of these was Oz the Great and Powerful directed by Sam Raimi and starring James Franco, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, and Mila Kunis.  While it was refreshing to see a new Oz story told, it sadly involved magic, but had none of that film magic that the 1939 movie captured so wonderfully.

 A big problem with modern fantasy films whether for children or adults is that they evoke no sense of wonder or excitement of either the actual world or of our imaginations.  This is perhaps due to our cynicism today, but also much due to the fact that so many film makers don’t want to tell the stories of these excellent works, but their own stories, only slapping the names and settings of better storytellers on their efforts in order to make a profit.  It isn’t necessary to faithfully detail every book page to every line in a screenplay, but capturing the spirit of the original work should, I think, be a goal.  I saw nothing of Baum’s Oz world in that recent film and thought it was a shame because of all the talent involved in the project.

Oz suffers a similar fate to that of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.  In our modern times, we get too caught up in creating our own alternate versions of the story or changing it into a psychological study instead of focusing on telling a good story.  This isn’t to say that alternate versions can’t be great, but, again, they should not be wholly cut off from the main source material.  The source material is in almost all cases weirder, quirkier, and more interesting than the bland retellings of them crafted to “one size fits all.”

It has been some time since I’ve read the original novel, but the 1939 The Wizard of Oz at least captures Oz even if it didn’t follow the book to the letter.  It captured the magic, the danger, and the political intrigue of “the man behind the curtain.”  It is a movie much beloved, but not one, I think, for everyone.  Let me show another example:  Wicked by Gregory Maguire.  I have met people who love the story, and some who won’t touch it.  It is a story for a specific audience, a story that decidedly won’t appeal to everyone, but to those who desire a deeper understanding of what makes a bad person bad, or a villain a villain.  For some, it’s enough to say a character is a villain because, of course evil exists in the world.  For others, though, they want to know why, they want a reason either behind the bad actions or behind the label of “evil.”  It’s why in the aftermath of mass shootings there is so much focus on the background of the shooter.  We think there must be a reason.  Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn’t.  For those of us who believe there is true evil in the world, no amount of reasons makes any difference, evil is evil.  That true evil can’t be corrected by therapy or giving everyone a perfect childhood, well, that’s a hard lesson to learn, and we are a bit loathe to learn that today.  We want to blame the gun or the knife, or the possible abuse and/or neglect of the killer, but is the possession of a weapon or any sort of history of suffering really an excuse for the slaughtering of strangers?  Aren’t we really, in some form, trying to excuse away the evil in our own hearts?  I digress, these all are thoughts best plumbed in an entirely different article.  My point is, stories made up to cater to everyone, whether one year to ninety years, whether living in East or West, North or South, often cater to no one.

Ozbook03cover

 Back on topic:  My favorite book in the Oz series has long been Ozma of Oz.  Ozma is a great character, not always nice, and one who shows another side of Dorothy.  How wonderful it would be for this tale to have a proper big screen treatment.  In fact, all of the books in the series offer plenty of plots, magic, characters, and wonder to compromise an entire franchise of films, if only Hollywood, or someone, would step to it.  This is a fantasy world that has stood the test of time, and like more modern fantasy such as Harry Potter, offers much social commentary and philosophizing in the process.

Up next time:  Part 2: Monster Blood Tattoo