Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When JK Rowling Defends The Death Eaters

From L to R: Angela Eagle, Hilary Benn, Alan Campbel, Tony Blair, Lord Mandelson, Ed Balls

Like many of my fellow readers, the Harry Potter series has a special place in my heart. I came to it late in life, in my mid 20s, but I was still drawn into the lives of Harry, Hermione, Ron and all the different characters and plot lines that made up the 7 part epic adventure in wizardry and witchcraft.

And one of the greatest things about HP is the anti-racist current running all through the books. For the uninitiated, the two sides of the conflict in the HP wizarding world are those who want to have good relations with the non-magical (muggles) and those wizards and witches who see muggles and wizards born of muggles (derogatorily referred to as mudbloods) as inferior and deserving of a lower place in society.

That the former are the heroes and the latter the villains, it is a powerful message of inclusion that children and adults reading the books take away. It is one of the reasons I will eagerly give the HP books to my kids when the day comes.

Damn, I even named my dog Dobby, so to say the least I'm a big fan.

my dog

Rowling has also on several occasions spoken out against racism, chastising bigots upset that Hermione was being played by a black actress in a recent Harry Potter play, and vocalizing anger toward the racist vitriol of some of the Leave EU campaigners.

And although her anti-racist bravado is commendable, we are beginning to see the limits of Rowling's  liberal anti-racism.

Earlier this year Rowling published a four part story on her Pottermore website called "History of Magic in North America," which received blustering critique for culturally appropriating myths and legends of other peoples and twisting their meaning to fit her narrative.

Google "Rowling + Native Americans" and see the anger, with many calling the story insensitive if not outright racist, many Native Americans expressing their exhaustion of Western writers feeling the entitlement to take important elements of their pasts and their cultures and retelling them in ways that they were not meant to be conveyed.

But as far as I can tell, Rowling has ignored the criticism only trying to quell concerns that some of the spirits she depicts are evil, as if that is the only point people are concerned about.

A white liberal confronted with issues of cultural appropriation is a site to see, how obtuse they can become in the face of legit concerns from a group she felt so comfortable depicting without any regard for the consequences of doing so.

And as we saw in the last day or so, entitlement is something Rowling has plenty of.

So a bit of a background...

It has been barely a year that radical campaigning anti-war Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn won a landslide victory for the leadership of the UK Labour Party, shocking everyone (including himself) as the membership of the party, tired of the old Blairite hacks, decided it was time for a good old principled socialist to lead away.

Without surprise, the right wing Bitterites (as they have been referred to) have been bitter, upset that the rabble of the membership would reject their expert judgement that had overseen the loss of 5 million votes since the 1997 election and two straight defeats at the polls. As such, the Bitterites have been plotting since day one.

Actually, even before JC won, Lord Mandelson tried to quash the leadership race to keep Corbyn from winning.

This week, after the Leave side won the EU referendum, the cabal around Mandelson and Hilary Benn chose to to use this moment of political uncertainty to orchestrate a coup and force Corbyn to resign, culminating in today's vote of non-confidence by the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Problem for the coupsters is that Corbyn is massively popular among the members of the Party and even if he accepted the vote (which he hasn't) he'd likely win an even larger majority than last time.

Rowling has taken to twitter in full support of the coupsters sadly.

Her tweets have compared Corbyn's supporters to fascists (particularly irked that some people at a pro-Corbyn rally yesterday called the Blairites vermin), retweeted posts from coupsters, including effusive praise for Hilary Benn, all in the name of "save Labour."

There is a lot of rich irony here.

While there maybe some debate about the use saucy and angry language on demos  (although there is serious doubts cast about some of the accusations--see here) then shouldn't we have similar look at those who are supporting Corbyn's ouster.

With Rowling's outrage about the racism that has appeared post-EU referendum and her likening of the left to fascists, lets look at the people she is supporting behind the coup.

Firstly, there seems to be really tight connection between those trying to retake the leadership and the old Blairite rulers. As the Canary reported today, the leading voices all have tight connections to Blair's former spin doctor Alistair Campbell, whose PR company may be coordinating the communication strategy of the coup.

By now most of us know what Blair did. He lied to Britain and engineered the UK's participation in the war in Iraq, a conflict that has already killed millions, and destabilized an entire region, fermenting the growth of ISIS and producing the refugee crisis in Syria.

The war in Iraq was illegal.

Blair is a war criminal and we are about to finally get the Chilicot Report that will detail how Blair and others deceived the world to justify going to war.

But even if Blair is behind the coup in some way, can we lay all his crimes upon those leading the coup now?

Well maybe not, but the major players were around when the vote on Iraq happened. The likes of Hillary Benn, Alan Campbell, and Corbyn's likely challenger Angela Eagle all voted for the war.

But the Iraq war was a long time ago...is it the only litmus test we have?

How about immigration and responding to racism! Rowling seems sincerely worried about the increase of racism among the British populace. Maybe the coupsters offer a better response to this than their judgment on Iraq.

Sadly, no they don't. First we can look at the last UK election and the brain trust of the Labour Party choosing to produce material like this to appeal to concerns:

This would also be kind of racist, wouldn't it JK?

And it didn't end there. During the EU referendum one of the vocal opponents of Corbyn Ed Balls (and spouse of Yvette Cooper, one of the defeated leadership candidates who voted today against Corbyn) wrote this in The Daily Mirror:

"We need to press Europe to restore proper borders, and put new controls on economic migration."

This is part of the criticisms of Corbyn, namely that he isn't willing to accept or appeal to the xenophobia that drove many to vote Leave. Instead, Corbyn wants to challenge it head on and rightfully point out that the reason people have lost their jobs and seen their NHS suffer is not because of immigrants and refugees but because of policy decisions of successive Tory and Labour governments.

Instead the coupsters would rather go back to a party that plays to peoples prejudices and that supports aggressive imperial policies.

How one supports this and sees this course as somewhat more sensible and better for immigrants in the UK is baffling.

If anything, capitulating will feed into the Little England mentality that Rowling is crying out against.

Supporting more wars like Iraq will only further the marginalization of immigrants.

The path of the coupsters isn't to save Labour...it's about further entrenching the othering of immigrants in England and offering no real political alternative that points to the failings of thirty years of neoliberalism as the root cause of the problems people are grieving about.

To bring this back to Harry Potter, Blair is Voldermort in this story and the leaders of the coup are his death eaters. That Rowling has thrown her support for them and their racist, neoliberal and imperialist approach to governing (let's call it what it is), is pretty shameful.

To Be Blunt: JK Rowling siding with the Labour Party coupsters against Jeremy Corbyn is a repudiation of everything the message in HP was about.

So I say this, in the real world we don't have Dumbledore to rally around but we do have Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn, the most principled politician one can imagine, who has always spoken out for the downtrodden, who has offered policies that would benefit the worst off in society, and who hasn't rushed to embrace prejudice for political expediency.

Corbyn brings with him all the leadership qualities that Dumbledore does in the Harry Potter Series.

So lets take our lead from Rowlings books and not from her horrible tweets. Let's rally to JC's side and not let death eaters, or Ministry of Magic apparatchiks, undermine the cause of good.

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