In Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, author J.K. Rowling takes a chance. In the first four books, younger readers found adventure, mystery, youthful mischeviousness and constant battles of good versus evil. Older readers picked up on the symbolism of the series. The books were seen by some as Marxist. Others thought it promoted evil. Many thought Rowling was trying to address racism, pitting muggles versus wizards, and pure-blooded wizards versus “mud-bloods.”
Needless to say, it was all well veiled.
The chance she takes in the fifth installment of the series is a not-so-hidden political statement.
In this book, the reader becomes more familiar with the Ministry of Magic, the government that reigns over Harry Potter’s wizard world. The Ministry flexes its muscle throughout the book by passing decree after decree, a la the Patriot Act and similar laws passed after the Sept. 11 attacks.
In addition, Rowling explores one of public education’s biggest controversies: teaching to the test. Some professors at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry become consumed in preparing students for their fifth-year standardized test, while others refuse to.
Rowling even takes the reader on search for a weapon of mass destruction, for goodness sake.
While the politics are more candid, the adventure is not lost. The book gets a bit wordy in some parts, but it should still leave the Potter-faithful crying out “Accio book 6!”
Things can go horribly wrong if people rely solely on one source of information. And in Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix, J. K. Rowling portrays this quite clearly.
The Daily Prophet, the sole source of information for news in the wizarding world, plays down the threat by “you-know-who” and discredits both Harry’s and Dumbledore’s assertions that He has indeed returned.
With huge corporations like Clear Channel and Time Warner controlling what people read, watch or listen to, American society illustrates similarities that could have equally dire results.
Let’s assume for a second that a high-ranking politician was lying to the American public. Quite an alien concept, but if this very unlikely situation was to occur, it’s in the hands of corporations like Time Warner to alert the public. They have the power to blow the whistle, remain silent or even back the politician up with favorably slanted news reporting.
It is necessary that the media not only supply information to the public, but also ensure that it is done in a well-researched and objective way. The public, however, would be well-advised to get their news from a variety of sources, ensuring that they get the entire picture and not just what the controlling media wants them to see.
Hopefully, the American public won’t have to stare evil in the eye for as long as the wizarding world did, before they realize what is going on.