Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Potter Is a Brat

No spoilers here. (What do you think this is, The New York Times?)

Recently, the Wall Street Journal blamed Mr. Rogers for turning our children into self-important little creeps by telling "several generations of children that they were 'special' just for being whoever they were." But the damage that Mr. Rogers has done to our youth pales in comparison with the harm caused by the Harry Potter series.

On the eve of the publication of the seventh and final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it is time to reflect on their pernicious influence. What will happen to the kids who grew up reading these books when they discover that they are not special after all, that they are not really wizards with untapped magical powers just waiting to be whisked off to a better life, but are just muggles after all? What happens when they discover that the terrorists cannot be defeated simply by waving a magic wand?

Although some admirers have pointed out that the Harry Potter books have gotten kids reading again, this has come at the expense of taking them away from more important pursuits like playing video games which prepare them for the 21st century wars they will be fighting. Reading books, as many Americans are coming to discover, is overrated anyway, but reading these books (which for many Americans are the only books they do read) could be especially detrimental because of the lessons they are teaching our children and even many adults.

Harry Potter is a terrible role model. He is a petulant, self-pitying brat who routinely breaks rules that he believes don't apply to him. In the anything goes, slippery slope morality of Harry Potter's world, nothing is taboo, not even having an affair with a horse, as he did last year on the London stage. He thinks the world owes him something just because he had the misfortune of losing his parents and he doesn't show the least bit of gratitude to the kindly Dursleys for taking him in without any kind of compensation despite all the trouble he has caused them. If he had lived in Charles Dickens' England he would have been shunted off to an orphanage or prison, which at least would have toughened him up and saved us from his relentless whining. Unfortunately, Great Britain is a different place than it was in Dickens' time, when it ruled a great empire. Now its citizens live coddled lives, taking long vacations, living off the dole and depending on socialized medicine, while Muslims slowly begin to take over their overly indulged society. It is certainly a different place from the United States, where we take very few vacations, we force single mothers to work and some people don't have any medical care at all. Although President Bush has stood as a bulwark against indulging children with medical care they cannot afford to pay for, for example, the insidious influence of British socialist propaganda like the Harry Potter books will not make this task any easier.

If J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, had been an American we wouldn't even have been subjected to these terrible books. She was a single mother who leached off the government dole for years while she scribbled away on the first book, daydreaming in Edinburgh cafés about Horcruxes and Patronus charms and other childish things instead of worrying about paying her bills. If she had lived in the United States she would have been forced to get a proper job and had no time to write at all. A self-professed admirer of Jessica Mitford, a muckraking journalist who was a member of the Communist Party, Rowling has filled her books with subversive propaganda, as even her admirers admit.

"In typical children's literature, only "bad kids" disobey adults, and they get hurt or into severe trouble," wrote liberal Mike Hersh. "Heroes seldom question authority, and if they do, they quickly learn their folly. Not in Rowling's realistic view. Her heroes repeatedly defy adults, break rules, and exemplify bold courage in the face of oppressive authority." Harry Potter and his friends are the kinds of kids who would stand outside of Hogwarts with a sign saying "Bong Hits for Jesus," which, thanks to our new Supreme Court, can no longer happen in America.

Hersh points out that Alfonso Cuarón, the illegal immigrant director of the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third film in the series, had the temerity to compare the villain Voldemort to both President Bush and Saddam Hussein. "They both have selfish interests and are very much in love with power. Also, a disregard for the environment. A love for manipulating people." The idea that George Bush could in any way be compared to villains like Saddam Hussein and Voldemort, who tortured and killed people, is, of course, preposterous and it is a perfect illustration of the skewed morality of these books. It is not just the use of sorcery and witchcraft that makes Harry Potter different from good Christian fantasies like The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia, it is the way it tries blur good (us) and evil (them).

The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia base their morality on the Bible where there is a very clear demarcation between good and evil. When God destroys an entire city or floods the Earth or kills all the first-born males in Egypt in the Bible, it is clear that this is a good thing because those people deserved it. But in the Harry Potter books good people sometimes do bad things and people who appear to be bad sometimes do good things. "Good and evil are never clear-cut, it seems; Harry is part Voldemort and Voldemort part Harry," wrote Steve Bonta on Free Republic back in 2000. "Likewise, many of the supporting characters are confusingly two-sided." Hersh, naturally, thinks this is a good thing. "Right wingers see the world -- especially morality -- in stark, simplistic black and white," says the evil Hersh. "They see only right or wrong, good or bad.... By contrast, moderates and liberals - like Rowling's young heroes -- see life in shades of gray. They navigate currents of ambiguity unique in children's literature and even rare in adult fiction."

Of course, it is just this sort of moral ambiguity that will leave us defenseless in the face of our enemies. While our children are being indulged with these fantasies that everyone is a little bit good and a little bit bad, what is the other side doing? On Hamas' children's show an adorable Mickey Mouse-like character preached jihad and was beaten to death by an Israeli. This is the enemy we are fighting. It is an enemy that, if the third-hand, vaguely sourced reporting of Michael Yon is to believed (and who couldn't believe it?), would serve a family a dinner of their own son baked with an apple stuffed in his mouth in order to persuade them to join their cause, which I am sure is a very effective motivating tool. But even Jonah Goldberg, who believes we need to be more "ruthless" in Iraq, balks at the idea of serving our enemies their own children for dinner. Is this any way to win?

While our enemies inspire their budding suicide bombers with martyred mice, we are doing nothing to prepare our children for the great Clash of Civilizations we are bequeathing them. Confusing them with morally ambiguous tales is a prescription for defeat.

Since I don't read the New York Times, which apparently can't keep a secret about anything, I don't know what happens at the end of Deathly Hallows. Although grief hotlines are being set up in case Rowling kills off Harry Potter at the end of the last book, I doubt they will be needed. Rowling, to her credit, has shown that she is willing to make children cry by killing off beloved characters. But as much as I, and many parents, would like to see Harry Potter beaten to death with a stick, I'm afraid we are in for a big disappointment.

Update: In the comments, Julia points out that some conservative bloggers, no doubt out of desperation to please their kids, are making the outlandish claim that Harry Potter is a Young Republican, especially in the most recent film, The Order of the Phoenix, though anyone can see he is nothing of the sort.

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Michelle said...

What young Harry here needs is a good spanking and to be sent to bed without any supper. That'll save our civilization!

Anonymous said...

I've not read these books; and really, this whole good/evil idea is wearing thin. But thanks for the baked apple idea. It sounds positively festive!

Anonymous said...

All those years sipping tea while on the dole, when Rohling should have been stocking chia pets at Walmart! If I were a Walton I'd refuse to stock her commie books.

Julia said...

Silly wabbit, don't you realize that Harry is a pro-war Republican? He may actually be President Bush, although Harry doesn't fall off things that much.

Doodle Bean said...

Dear Mr. Swift,

Thank you once again for clarifying the unease which many of us reasonable conservatives feel in regard to Harry Potter and his ilk.

I do have to disagree with you about the Young Republican idea. This phote does seem to indicate some sort of Republicanism... although I must admit another photo shows him naked with an adult female. That latter photo may prove your point.

Still, I felt compelled to mention it.


Doodle Bean

Anonymous said...

Your post is okay, Jon. But this lady here, now she knows how to drive a point home.

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Very passionate writing! I have to confess I am not a fan of Rowlings work, her fiction pales in comparison to that of many of her predecessors, however, I am unable to agree with all your points. I personally believe that giving children some hope that they CAN do something to change their lives has to be a good thing given that we are living in a world which is full of disappointment. I think it is fair to say that Rowling is not a fantastic author, her work is often overrated but I do believe it has been taken a little out of context. The novels do, after all, fall under the category of fantasy. As a genre where reality is not supposed to be at the forefront, I can't really understand how people can blame her and her books for many of societies ills.
Thank you though, it was nice to read a different perspective on the issue!

J. said...

What will happen to the kids who grew up reading these books when they discover that they are not special after all, that they are not really wizards with untapped magical powers just waiting to be whisked off to a better life, but are just muggles after all?

They'll become college republicans.

Anonymous said...

How about you hypocritical conservative jackasses worry less about blacks jews and everyone else you make your money off of and then look down your nose at and try to learn how to be a good human. What would Jesus do? Who cares? Do any of you care what Buddah would do? Hell no, remember the world is made of more than hard working conservatives whose ancestor committed genocide and then hold themselves as putting freedom out there while trying to make everyone toe YOUR tired values, and we see where that's gotten us.

Anonymous said...

I was going to write something that I thought was funny, but nothing I could come up with would be funnier than that NetcrawlerX. Curse you, UnintentionallyHilariousMan!

James Higham said...

...not even having an affair with a horse, as he did last year on the London stage...

So he's not all bad then?

Rick Rockhill said...

Well as usual, you present a well thought out, well crafted post. Its hard not to see your POV but in the end, its just a fictional series all in the name of entertainment. I enjoyed the read though!

mw said...

Mr. Swift,
This is an official communication from the FCC, soon to be re-organized into the Department of Homeland Fairness. Under pending legislation reinstituting an expanded Fairness Doctrine, the following individuals and organizations have petitioned for equal time on your blog:

Lord Voldemort
Jonah Goldberg
New York Times Book Review
NAMHLA (North American Man Horse Love Association)

As the legislation is expected to be retroactive to a date prior to this post, You are being given advance notice in order to plan accordingly. You are advised to take advantage of this courtesy notification to avoid having "equal time" requirements exceed your available bandwidth when the legislation is finalized.

Doodle Bean said...

I'm with Anonymous,

That was hilarious!

Anonymous said...

A slight correction to an otherwise fine (as usual) essay:

Brits don't 'whine', they 'whinge'.

They sound pretty much the same when they are doing it though.

Anonymous said...

netcrawlersex: I would just like to add to what you said: would the conservative hypocritical liberal jackasses who is trying to make our world their world and vice versa because theirs is not the only value but they are making it ours and yours by some kind of nazi force that you find in Harry Potter and are you a guy or a girl because i think that we could get it on if you're a girl and please no homos, blacks, jews, liberals, democraps, fatties, spics. I look like Jonah Goldberg, only handsomer.

Anonymous said...


I think you have summed everything up in a nutshell. Or is it a nuthouse? Kudos and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... hard working conservatives all had the same ancestor.

We learn something new every day!

Darryl said...

Hmmm, I recently heard on a talk show a man promoting the excellence of the writng of J.K. Rowling's series and saying it was far more well written than Tolkein.

I find the analysis...interesting. Perhaps it is important for art to represnt well the wide range of human experience... though I prefer that art be used to uplift humanity...

And HA! that's why I have included your link on my website for my new novel at:

I have labeled your link: Brilliant liberal commentator...ahhh, right next to another link: Brilliant conservative commentator.

Daniel said...

There have been many fine books written most of which have afforded their authors a modest living.

The reward for this series bears absolutely no relationship to its importance to our world but it does illustrate the power of advertising.

If children were reading 1984 and Brave New World and the Handmaid's Tale they would be better prepared for what is coming!

Anonymous said...

Something has been bothering me about your blog name for quite some time. Your last name. I know that there were some "Swift" boaters who pulled some nasty things in the last election and I can't help but believe that the name was based on the founder of the group. Who else could have led the Swift boaters but a man named Swift? Will you write a blog post either confirming or denying that you led the Swift Boat attack on John Kerry? (or allowed your name to be used to give the group some legitimacy). You don't have to confirm that you have a red phone linking you directly to Karl in his office. No one talks about that kind of thing because it can get you into a lot of trouble even if you are innocent.

You have always been my hero in the blogging world, but this thing still nags at my craw. I just don't think they are giving you the credit you deserve. Sorry this is a little off topic, but Harry Potter is not my hero, but wouldn't it be a feather in your cap for us in the blogging world to say that Jon Swift is out there surreptitiously engaging in Harry Potter style activities rather than just writing stuff.

Bulworth said...


I don't believe Harry can be a young Republican. He's not an American after all. And do we even know if he owns a keyboard and eats cheetos?

Anonymous said...

My goodness, you have written some pretty wacky posts, but this one was the most inane I have ever seen on your blog (respectfully, and no offense)...

I suppose that you haven't taken the time to separate the books from your ultra-religious dogma. Yes, in some areas, I agree with you, that the morality shown in the world of Harry Potter is a little bit loose, but isn't it the same in our world? Moreover, the books are meant for entertainment. It is obvious that you took these books way to seriously.

Moreover, I almost hope that your assertion that reading Harry Potter books is taking children away from doing more "important" things, like playing video games that will "prepare" them for the wars they will fight in later times. This is silly.

I will ask you a question: would you rather have a bunch of uneducated, illiterate, trigger-happy morons that want to kill terrorists, or would you rather have well-read people who can make a choice as to their political allegiances based upon history, common sense, and things that they have read? Being well read doesn't mean that you have to be a liberal commie!

Also, I felt that your personal attacks toward Rowlings were completely uncalled for. Personally, I think you are jealous that you will never be as filthy rich and successful as she is.

I will have to agree with some of the other comments on this post, that analogise Potter with a republican. Allow me to attempt to show you why I think this. Let us look upon his allegiances: he is against government officials who try to tell us that nothing is wrong; he is against the dominant form of media, the Daily Profit. These government officials in the book, such as Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, are the ones who were saying that Voldemort had not returned and that nothing was wrong, and that people who said otherwise were war-/fear-mongers. Doesn't this remind you of the Democrats who said that Iraq wasn't a problem, and that terrorists weren't a threat?

Now lets look at the more obvious similarity. The Daily Profit, a newspaper publication that is in the pocket of the Ministry of Magic, which in the previous paragraph was analogised as pacifist, "I Surrender" liberals, is the dominant form of media in the Harry Potter world. In the U.S., most of the media is extremely liberally biased, and is in the pocket of the liberals.

Because Harry Potter is opposed to both of these things (the Ministry and the Daily Profit), which I have characterised as "liberal/Democrat", via the transitive property of logic, we must conclude that Potter is conservative/Republican. I mean, it is so obvious: he and Dumbledore had been urging the magical world to get into war and action, and to fight the evil enemy. DOESN'T THIS REMIND YOU OF BUSH??????????

So, take my advice and cool off; Harry Potter is for amusement. You remind me of those people who were saying that Sponge-Bob-Square-Pants is a homosexual conspiracy to taint our children into buggering creeps, etc., etc., etc. In reality, however, he is merely a whimsical, loveable, silly children's entertainment character. Your little boys aren't going to be castrating themselves just because of a TV character...

So here is what I suggest: first, reread the books and try to see them from another perspective. If you aren't amused, don't ruin it for everyone else. By the popularity of the books, it seems that plenty of other people like them; let other people enjoy what you can't.

James Higham said...

That's why my sidebar banner declares: Harry Potter Free Zone.

Julia said...

Ioannus de Verani, my life is a much better place because you said that.

Anonymous said...

Although I must admit that some of your points are valid opinions, Mr Swift, I simply cannot see how you could ever possibly consider thinking that playing video games are in some way more beneficial than literacy: they are the entertainment of imbeciles, which you should surely avoid, assuming you are not one yourself!

Anonymous said...

By the way, Mr Swift, I should surely hope, for the sake of your reputation as a clinically sane man, that you were being sarcastic at some points in your essay.

Anonymous said...

If anything I would suggest that Mr. Potter is not a Young Republican but perhaps a Young Tory.

I sympathize strenuously with your viewpoint that Harry should have been grateful to the Dursleys for the generous cupboard in which he was allowed to sleep. The Baby Jesus had a mere manger and was bedded in straw. And they killed the Baby Jesus (when he was older, of course) while Potter gets to ....

Crap! No Spoilers! I am a bad man. I must be punished. Where is Umbridge when I need her?

Anonymous said...

What a ridiculous argument to make, people who read Harry Potter do not automatically assume they have now become a witch/wizard! Reading is a much more intelligent passtime than playing video games and typing absurd blogs! Books have been around for a much longer time than computers for a reason - they're better! I think JK Rowling is a genius and deserves everything she has gotten from writing the Harry Potter books. Harry Potter as a character IS a good role model as he is brave and loyal, traits that modern children would benefit from taking on.
By the way - Daniel Radcliffe and Harry Potter are two completely separate things!

Anonymous said...

have you even read these books?

you're so full of crap, i think YOU oughta become a politician...

The books are there just to be enjoyed, not to be taken seriously...honestly thats why they're catagorised as fantasy and not non-fiction...

i grew up reading harry potter and have never thought for a minute that im a witch...

and although u may be too thick to see it these books have taught kids moral values and they show that you acually have to think for yourself instead of following some idiotic religion or politician who is ten times as bad

so until such time as you know what you're talking about i'd suggest you not waste valuable space with your ridiculous rantings...


Anonymous said...

wow wow wow wow mr. you've got this all wrong!
what made you think that video games are better than reading?
its been reported that a child actually committed suicide beacuse he was so obsessed with a video game and he couldnt beat a level.
also children have gotten arthuridist in there hands from sitting and playing video games for like 5 hours strait with there hands in the same position.

Also how could you ever compare Daniel Radcliffe to his character Harry Potter? just cause harry breaks rules all the time doesnt mean that Daniel radcliffe is a bad person. Also i think that the harry potter books are great i started reading them when i was in the 4th grade and i didnt think i was a witch. most kids who read harry potter arent like 2 years old! harry potter is too advanced for 3rd grade down! and no 4th grader up is going to think that he or she is a witch or wizard just beacuse J.K Rowling wrote a book about them.

If your saying that Harry Potter is a bad book you might as well be saying that all books that have mystical things in them are a bad influence to children. am i right?

Also, there are tons of video games that have mystical things in them, but still this doesnt bring children to believe that mystical things are real.

Almost all disney movies have magical things in them! For instance: sleeping beauty has a fair-god-mother and there is a lady who turns into a dragon. The little mermaid:Mer-people arent proven to be real yet. Pinocchio:woden boys can't turn into real boys. Cars: Real cars cant talk!
Have I made myself clear? children books/movies [such as harry potter] are made with great imagination and they are great movies that teach children great lessons!

Ok? you should really think things through before you say such rude things about writers and what they have written. I personally think that you are only saying this because you are jealus of J.K. Rowling because she has such a great talent for writing AMAZING books.

Anonymous said...

i do not like Harry... i've not read these books, and will not...!!!

Anonymous said...

This is probably the most stupid thing I have ever wasted my time on reading.

Arizona Bankruptcy Attorney said...

The inability of some commenters to grasp satire boggles the mind.

Anonymous said...

I Feel Deeply sorry for anyone who takes childrens stories this seriously, and i strongly disagree with almost all the points you made, first you say the harry potter books are anti-christian because they say witchcraft is good, in the books rowling potrays a form of witchcraft that has no simalarities with the idea of christian evil, also (I'm not sure you will know this after living in your cosseted "Consevretive existense) but not everyone is christian.

Secondly i think you are as emotianaly seceptable as a flea,
I Know a child who's parents were murdered and he does not think he can bring them back with a flick of a magic wand, yet he still enjoys the books.

I've always been told that conservatives were stupid ignorant prats, of course i've never belived them but now i do.

You are downright stupid.

Anonymous said...

get a clue.. ITS A FRIGGEN BOOK! probably the best and most interesting book ive ever written, i saw harry potter when i was 5 and you dont see me doing witchcraft? i was young? CAUSE I WAS SMART ENOUGH TO NO IT WAS FAKE! and unless you think the world is entirely stupid to understand this you have a problem, and must be a shitty writer for picking on an innocent book instead of real issues in the world. or a great writer cause you got the publicity you needed but dont slam harry potter again cause half of the worlds first book to read was harry potter!

Anonymous said...

George W. Bush didn't do his homework, either, but was doubly dumb because he did not cultivate a Hermione equivalent off whom to crib. Neither Harry nor Bush can find Iraq on the map, but at least Harry never invaded it.

Anonymous said...

That was absolutely awe-inspiring. I haven’t seen anything so terribly hilarious for a good while. Many thanks for the unintentional humor.

The author of this article alleges that children are too stupid to differentiate between books and reality, and that in that world solving a problem in always as simple as waving a magic wand?
That’s not the way it is. Harry enters a magical realm and he thinks that life will be like that, that everything will be wonderful, but it’s not. Enter a world of murderers and tortures, of prejudice and fear, where the government can't be trusted, where people can be taken to prison and held indefinitely without trial.
I think Mr. Swift is scared of the books, to be fully honest, scared of questioning morals, scared of questioning authority. Rowling makes a very clear point in her books about the difference of choice between what's right and what's easy, about standing up for what's right even when other's condemn you for it. Dictatorships only last because people don't rise against the, not enough anyway, not united, because they follow blindly and allow bad things to happen.
Rowling doesn't necessarily strike along political lines. The liberals who like it say liberal, the conservatives see conservative. That’s because Rowling is working with the things in morality that any intelligent and ethical human being can agree.

Maybe the worst is when Mr. Swift decides Rowling's books aren't based on real Christian values. Let me ask you something, Mr. Swift, as a Christian would you say your God is a loving God? Would you say God is love?

Because Rowling's books are about the power of love, about people being imperfect, and us accepting them for it, about evil and how that is a lack of love, the loss of human feeling for the sake of greed.

Anonymous said...

Children, before complaining about this post, please do a Google or wiki search for "Jonathan Swift" and "satire". Then return here and provide us with a comment as clever as Mr. Swift's post. That will be ever so much more entertaining.

Sorry to pull back the curtain on you, Mr. Swift, but I hate to see children not doing their research before spouting off. Don't want them to grow up to be like BillO and Beck, do we?

Anonymous said...

This was all highly amusing until I realized that you aren't being sarcastic. Then it became downright scary.

Anonymous said...

"This was all highly amusing until I realized that you aren't being sarcastic. Then it became downright scary."

LMAO. It never ceases to amaze me that Americans don't seem to know who Jon Swift was. As the anonymous mom said, Google Jonathan Swift kids!

Emily said...

I think what's scarier is that there are people out there who feel this way about fictional stories. Then again, they have the right to say the things that they want to about things that they have the right to not bother reading.

In the meantime, I'll be off learning war tactics on my XBox.

Anonymous said...


Good One! Johnathan Swift, get it? Come on everyone, does the word "satire" ring a bell? Although I was offended on the sarcastic implications to Christianity and God, I take my hat off to your ability to pull this piece off. No words can describe the brilliance behind your writing. I sure hope everyone figures out the irony in your writing and your choice of alias before they go off about how you are jealous of J.K. Rowling or how others are congratulating your stand against this "evil" brainwashing the youth today.

I am a Christian and a Catholic, but I do not see Harry Potter as an evil, but an excellent form of entertainment for children that teach them that the choices they will face in this world will not always be in black and white as some paint it (if they can grasp this yet that is). The world is complicated, filled with choices colored with gray, and sometimes we come to a crossroads where we have to choose and pick to do "The greater of two good deeds, and the lesser of two evil deeds".

Anonymous said...

Wow. I just finished going through the comments for this blog. I am utterly astounded at the number of people who don't "get" you or your satire. We've just read Swift's "A Modest Proposal" in my classes, and I sure hope that my students would be able to see this for the satire that it is. It is deplorable that all of your defensive readers didn't see your irony. Don't worry, though. There are plenty of people out there who are more intelligent than these people seem to be. Thanks for all the laughter you've brought to me.

Anonymous said...

get a life people, rowling's brilliance has no comparison

Anonymous said...

This was such a waste of time. I don't even know why I bothered to read the whole thing. Complete and utter BS.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful satire, Jon Swift! Sadly, it appears that many of your readers fail to understand the irony. Perhaps they should read your ancestor's "A Modest Proposal" in order to grasp the tenor and tone of your writings.



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