Barack Obama Is No Harry Potter

COMMENTARY | The meme of the Harry Potter books being an allegory for the War on Terror has been around for a while, even though the early books of the series were first published in the 1990s. The movies, though, have been released throughout the war.

The death of Osama Bin Laden, coming as it does in advance of the premiere of the last Harry Potter movie, which will see the final confrontation between the boy wizard and Voldemort, the evil terrorist mastermind of the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling’s novels, has given the meme some impetus.

There are some parallels to Al Qaeda and Voldemort’s Deatheaters. Both are fanatically xenophobic, Al Qaeda against the West, the Deatheaters against non-magic users called “Muggles” in the books. Both seek to use murder and terror to establish what they think will be a utopian society, Al Qaeda a worldwide Islamic caliphate, the Deatheaters a Britain with no Muggles left alive. Both are opposed by a heroic few, with some elements of society in denial about the nature of the threat.

However, a Reuters story goes too far when it states this:

“And just as Harry is known in the books as ‘the anointed one,’ a number of President Obama’s critics like Rush Limbaugh have frequently dismissed the president by disparagingly referring to him as ‘the anointed one’ as well — though on Monday, even Limbaugh had praise for how Obama orchestrated Osama’s demise.”

The idea of Barack Obama as Harry Potter is a little bit of a stretch. It is true that both grew up in dubious family situations. Harry was raised by abusive foster parents after his own biological parents died. Obama was mostly raised by grandparents after his own parents abandoned him.

But whereas Harry was always aware of the threat Voldemort was for his wizarding world (his parents were murdered, after all, by Voldemort), Obama has not quite been as forthright. Obama, as a presidential candidate, inveighed against some of the strategies used by President Bush to combat terrorism. But then, as president, he adopted virtually all of the strategies that he was once against.

Minor spoiler ahead.

Of course, Obama did not sacrifice himself in single combat against bin Laden, as Harry did against Voldemort. He watched the proceedings via satellite hookup in the White House Situation Room, thousands of miles away from the action. The risk Obama took was purely political. Harry risked all for the sake of his friends and his society.

Source: Eerie links between Harry Potter, bin Laden, Gregg Kilday, Reuters, May 2, 2011