Harry Potter and the Vanishing Jihad

William Kilpatrick is an author and lecturer.  His latest book, Christianity, Islam and Atheism:  The Struggle for the Soul of the West was recently published by Ignatius Press.


The threat from Islam seems to be growing. For example, the last twelve months saw the largest number ever of attempted and successful terrorist attacks on American soil. Meanwhile, books such as Paul Sperry’s Infiltration, and Sperry and David Gaubatz’s Muslim Mafia warn that Muslim Brotherhood agents have penetrated deep into the corridors of power and influence.

Yet official America is still in denial. The words “jihad,” “Islam,” “Islamic terrorism” and just plain “terrorism” are off-limits in polite government and military circles. Attorney General Eric Holder couldn’t even bring himself to use the term “radical Islam” when questioned on the subject the other day. At the same time, the mainstream media continue to deny that Islamic beliefs are the main factor in terrorist attacks. Thus, several reporters portrayed Faisal Shazhad, the Times Square bomber, as just another case of mortgage meltdown. Meanwhile, Comedy Central prudently decided that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Depicted will not be depicted. And amazingly, the people who point to the increasing threat from Islam are still written-off as “alarmists.” Sometimes, as in the cases of Mark Steyn, Geert Wilders, and others, the “alarmists” are hauled before courts and tribunals to answer for their alarmism.

Every once in a while, for sanity’s sake, you need to take a break from such grim reports. So today I’m recommending you pull yourself away from the bad news on the blog sites, and escape into the world of fantasy. Take a breather. Ease up on yourself. For example, you could immerse yourself for a few days in one of the “Harry Potter” series. Forget about the jihad. Instead, transport yourself to the magical world of Hogwarts.

You could, for instance, pick up book five of the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It’s almost as long as War and Peace, so it will provide many hours of diversion. Moreover, it’s a well-written, cleverly plotted book with plenty of mystery, humor, sharply drawn characters, and inventive gadgets. As with the other books in the series, the plot revolves around the struggle between Harry and his nemesis, Voldemort—who is referred to throughout as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” Hah, hah! Clever literary device, that. You know we’re safely in the realm of fantasy when people can’t even bring themselves to name the threat which faces them.

The story starts out with Harry being summoned before a court hearing at the Ministry of Magic. The charge?—unauthorized use of his wand in Muggle territory. Harry used his wand to repel an attack by creatures now in the employ of Voldemort—in effect, a terrorist attack. But since no one at the Ministry of Magic will believe that Voldemort has returned, they insist that Harry has made up the story. The Ministry, in short, is in denial about the threat from Voldemort. It’s also in denial about the extent of the infiltration of the Ministry by Voldemort’s agents.

Harry is (just barely) acquitted of the charge against him, but he remains the target of a media smear campaign that portrays him as an alarmist. The Daily Prophet, the most influential of the Wizarding community’s newspapers, never misses a chance to discredit Harry for warning about non-existent dangers. At the same time, its editors repeatedly ignore or deny rumors about Voldemort’s re-emergence.

Meanwhile, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a climate of political correctness has settled over the school. The new headmistress, Professor Umbridge (in reality, a Ministry plant), teaches a course in “Defense against the Dark Arts” which effectively leaves her students defenseless. The newly revised course is purely theoretical and provides no actual practice of defensive spells. From now on, Professor Umbridge informs them, the class will learn about defensive skills “in a secure, risk-free way.” When Harry and Hermione complain that they will be left unprepared to deal with the dark forces, Professor Umbridge counters that they have nothing to fear: “…you have been informed that a certain Dark wizard is at large again. This is a lie…the Ministry of Magic guarantees that you are not in danger from any Dark wizard.”

Alas, as you can see, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix isn’t going to provide much relief from jihad anxiety. Substitute Muhammad or Islam for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the Obama administration for the Ministry of Magic, Geert Wilders or Mark Steyn for Harry, and you’ve got the main story of our times—one that also involves re-emergent dark forces, stealth infiltrations, denial, and neutered school curriculums. For The Daily Prophet you could substitute The New York Times or the Times of London, and for Professor Umbridge you could substitute all those teachers and professors who, by whitewashing Islam, leave their students unprepared for the reality they will one day face.

Is J.K. Rowling’s fifth book actually a roman-a-clef?—that is, a novel describing real life under the cover of fiction. Is she sending us a hidden message in the style of The Da Vinci Code? Rowling lives in England, after all, and she must surely have noticed that cultural jihad is far advanced there. One report says that the Muslim population of England is growing at a ten times faster rate than the native population. And the growing population is becoming more aggressive. When Geert Wilders visited England after initially being banned by the UK government, some of the Muslim protesters called for his head—literally. In reply to this kind of belligerence, official England has responded more or less like Chamberlain at Munich. “Jihad” and “Islamic terrorism” were long ago dropped from the Establishment lexicon. The schools have deleted the Holocaust and the Crusades from the curriculum out of deference to Muslims. And the Archbishop of Canterbury (who, fittingly, looks like a wizard out of central casting) has resigned himself to the establishment of some forms of Sharia law.

Was Rowling making a veiled comment on the surrender of her society to Islam by a craven elite? It’s difficult to say, of course. Maybe she had something more conventional in mind—perhaps, the failure of the Establishment to warn sufficiently about the dangers of global warming. Or maybe the scene with Professor Umbridge was meant to allude to the failure of British schools to provide the kind of practical sex education that would prepare students to defend against sinister strains of STD’s.

But if she was alluding to the threat from Islam, you can see why it had to be veiled. Wikipedia informs us that the reasons an author might choose a roman-a-clef format include:

  • Writing about controversial topics and/or reporting inside information on scandals without giving rise to charges of libel.
  • Avoiding self-incrimination or incrimination of others that could be used as evidence in civil, criminal or disciplinary proceedings.

Good reasons to be careful what you say—especially in England where it is quite difficult to defend against libel charges, and where “hate crime” laws are often interpreted so as to make criticism of Islam a criminal matter.

Imagine if Ms. Rowling had written a short opinion piece expressing her fears about the stealth Islamization of England. You can bet that before you could say “Expecto Patronum” she’d be brought up, like Harry, before some court on charges of defamation or hate speech. Or better make that “unauthorized hate speech.” If you want to write something hateful about Jews or Christians or Geert Wilders, no one will bother you. But in today’s England, just as in Harry Potter’s parallel England, you really can be arrested for warning about a danger that no one wants to admit.

Young people, they say, are the hope of the future. But not if they don’t wake up and begin to understand the present. When the Potter books first appeared years ago, it was reported that librarians and teachers were delighted. Young people were reading again! Ah, yes, the joy of reading. But part of the enjoyment in reading certain stories lies in making the connections to real life. What if there is never any moment of recognition—never any point where one sees the connection between what one reads and the world one lives in?

Young people may delve into imaginative fiction, but they live in a very unimaginative world—one that more or less forbids them to make any connections other than the officially approved ones. You can read The Crucible and have class discussions about McCarthyism, just don’t talk about contemporary witch hunts conducted by the politically correct. You can read The Lord of the Rings, but just remember that it’s an allegory about the threat of atomic weapons, and the destruction of the environment. Professor Tolkien never meant to say that certain traditions and cultures were superior to other traditions and cultures.

There are some important lessons to be learned from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. And it would be nice to think that legions of young people are taking them to heart. But today’s youngsters (as well as the not so young) have been conditioned to believe what the Wizarding community has been conditioned to believe: that there is no danger, no dark forces mustering, no need to worry about deception and infiltration. And, although our leaders and teachers talk incessantly about “change,” they have somehow managed to convince us that nothing momentous or world changing could ever really happen in our times. Very few seem prepared to even imagine the kind of epic change that Islamization would bring. And very few are prepared for the kind of epic struggle that may be needed to halt it. So thanks to J.K. Rowling, whether she intended it or not, for reminding us that epic struggles sometime occur in real life as well as in fantasies.

William Kilpatrick’s articles have appeared in FrontPage Magazine, First Things, Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Jihad Watch, World, and Investor’s Business Daily.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/GaryRumain Gary Rumain

    An excellent analysis of the subtext. I wonder if her other books carry the same hidden message.

    • themunz

      They do. I have read and re-red them time after time again. Rollings herself has said that she styled the books after WWII. Voldemort (the villain) being reminiscent of Hitler.
      People refusing to believe that his power and evil were as vast and aspiring as they were.
      However, Rollings being known for her red herrings may very well have made that connection as yet another red herring. Anyway you crack it up, it fits with what Kilpatrick has said so eloquently.

      All I can say is Shacklebolt's Patronus has arrived, the ministry has fallen. They are coming.

  • Jim Packard

    One thing that always struck me in light of recent events (SPOILER WARNING):

    Voldemort has a muggle (non-wizard) father and a witch mother. When he grows up (in an orphanage) and finds about his ancestry, he disavows his muggle lineage completely, even going so far as to murder his father. Later on, he goes on to champion the cause of wizards dominating the muggles. He's a half-blood (that's the term used in the books), yet he pretends as though his muggle ancestry never existed, and he hates muggles more than do many of his pure-blood wizard underlings.

    Half-blood, denying one of the halves, championing the cause of the other half, hating the denied half with a passion exceeding that of the pure. Doesn't it remind you of someone…?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/GaryRumain Gary Rumain

      Hmm … now who on earth could that be? Oh bummer, I just don't know! ;-)

  • Guest

    "Very few seem prepared to even imagine the kind of epic change that Islamization would bring. And very few are prepared for the kind of epic struggle that may be needed to halt it."

    Excellent article, and a right-on-target analysis!

    As for the "And very few are prepared for the kind of epic struggle that may be needed to halt it", I have a slight change — the word "may" should be changed to "WILL"!!!

    The "politically-correct" fools who constantly decry any criticism of islam as "offensive" or "hurtful", and who continue to insist that the West must not engage in a "war against the 'religion' of islam" don't have a clue that islam IS IN A WAR AGAINST US — regardless of what we DON'T think about being "at war with" the "religion of peace"!!

    In his own lifetime, Mohammed NEVER spread islam by anything OTHER THAN brutal, unending conquest and a bloody sword!!!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/gorpreebley gorpreebley

    Really excellent analysis and timely too. I have just finished rereading the Potter series last night. Order of the Phoenix is my favorite.

  • BS1977

    Michael Savage has warned us repeatedly that liberalism is a "mental disorder" and this is correct. Those who refuse to see what is going on throughout the Middle East and Europe are in total denial. The naive expectations of PC multifultutrism in England and elsewhere have proven to be a disaster. Everyday there are bombings, killings, assassinations and the non stop hatred of Jews, Israel, the United States and Christianity that people keep ignoring…..Suicide bombings, the Ft. Hood massacre, the would be plane bomber on Christmas, the Times Square bomber….but let's pretend over and over that these are "isolated incidents". This is a war but liberals will not admit it. It is a war for the conquest of planet earth, but let's not think about that.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/gorpreebley gorpreebley

    Another point in support of your thesis- I do not recall any named Muslim students at Hogwarts. There is a clearly Jewish student named Anthony Goldstein.

  • Morrisminor

    Jeez, they are just kid's books about magic, Reading the anti-jihad subtext is just plain whackiness, unless I hear it from the author herself. Also, the anti-jihad movement can better be served if blatant theocons stay away.

  • Insomniac

    I'm not so sure about the anti-jihad thing. However, denial and fecklessness by the "elites" in the face of existential threats are nothing new (see Neville Chamberlain), and Rowling adopted that as a theme in her books.

  • jdwalker84

    Great article…very thought provoking!

  • wizard34

    If you think Order of the Phoenix is a roman a clef, you should read the final book in the Harry Potter series, The Deathly Hallows.

    <SPOILERS>

    Good guys disappear at the hands of Voldemort's minions, Harry becomes a hunted fugitive, everyone is afraid and distrustful of everyone else. It's a perfect metaphor for life in a totalitarian dictatorship. I can't help but think that, whether or not she knows it, Rowling was divinely inspired to write this series as a preparation for young people, and those of us who read the books and "got" them, to understand what is headed our way and the necessity of fighting against the Evil arrayed against humanity.

    In other words, it ain't just a kid's book…

  • Joe

    Can someone quote the actual British law (s) which make it illegal to tell the truth about a religion which threatens civilisation ? If so, what are the actual words of that law ?

  • Allie

    An amazingly well-written article. You make great comparisons between the Harry Potter series and "the vanishing jihad". I'm doubtful whether J.K. Rowling was writing a roman-a-clef about "the vanishing jihad"–as you point out, it could be coincidence–but your point is an interesting one. There are, after all, distinct parallels in the books to what is happening in the real world. The Muslims are conquering the world swiftly–by force and by stealth jihad. I only hope that we'll have the same happy ending as in the books!

    I also appreciate that you choose to write about the Harry Potter series, unlike the many people who say that HP is an evil series. I am immensely grateful to you for writing about it, and just as grateful to the person who convinced you to read these great books, whoever he or she may be. :)

  • artifacts101

    A great article!

  • badaboo

    It's a stretch , and a sad commentary , that anyone needs an alleged crypticly coded childrens fable to figure out what is going on with muslims …in the UK , or anywhere else .

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/GaryRumain Gary Rumain

      She has to or she'd be charged with a hate crime in the UK.

  • badaboo

    Hey if the Brits in the UK can't figure out they're being minimized and victimized by their own government , they're certainly NOT gonna get it from a Harry Potter novel.
    LOL…there is in fact a 600 pound Canary sitting in their living room .

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