On Saturday, mystery novelist Daniel Friedman took to X to discuss why so many young progressives had become so angry with author J.K. Rowling in recent years, despite many of them growing up reading and loving the Harry Potter series.
Friedman doesn’t believe the progressive claims that they are upset about Rowling’s insistence on protecting sex-based rights and access, particularly for women, to single-sex spaces. In the minds of trans-rights activists, Rowling is often considered a “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist,” commonly referred to as a TERF.
Instead, Friedman argues that the anger is rooted more deeply than that, writing, “The reason a lot of young progressives are so mad at JK Rowling is that they read the books as kids, and they thought they were Harry or Hermione. But they grew up into people like Percy or Dolores Umbridge or Cornelius Fudge or Rita Skeeter. And they know it.”
All of the above characters actively denied reality, or dutifully tattled on friends, neighbors and even family members who refused to do the same.
“And on some level, they’re ashamed,” he continued. “I’m reading the fifth book with my niece and it’s kind of astonishing how well it tracks to contemporary controversies. And Rowling is on the same side now that she was when she wrote it. Which is the side of people who tell the truth, against people who suppress and deny the truth in service of their ideology.”
“Cornelius Fudge and the Ministry of Magic are unprepared to deal with the return of Voldemort, so Fudge simply decides it isn’t happening and endeavors to silence anyone who says otherwise, which sets him in conflict with Dumbledore,” he continued. “Harry is attacked by dementors while he’s staying with his aunt and uncle, and he uses magic to defend himself.
“He’s put on trial for using magic outside the school, and his defense is that he was protecting himself from the dementors,” he adds. “But Fudge refuses to believe the dementors were there, because, if they’re not in Azkaban where they’re supposed to be, then that means his ministry has lost control of them.
“After Dumbledore produces witnesses who exonerate Harry, and embarrasses Fudge in the process, Fudge sends his assistant Dolores Umbridge to Hogwarts as a teacher to curtail Dumbledore’s authority,” Friedman continues. “Umbridge insists that the students do not need to learn magical defense because nobody is going to attack them. Every time Harry protests, Umbridge punishes him sadistically. She refuses to tolerate any evidence of truth that conflicts with her ideology, and zealously prosecutes heretics who speak against her beliefs.”
Friedman concluded, “Twenty years ago, Umbridge, who zealously believes in the righteousness of her ideology, and, in the face of increasing evidence to the contrary, attempts to suppress that evidence and punish those who present it rather than changing her beliefs, probably read as a right-wing figure. But today, she’s the perfect model of a woke bureaucrat.”
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