It feels like I’m cheating to count this as my banned book “Fahrenheit 451” square, because in the nearly 20 years since I read this the first time it’s become omnipresent. Not that it wasn’t a hit even when I picked it up the first time around in the middle school library where my mom worked, killing time between the end of my school day and her closing hours with an endless supply of books, but the popularity explosion and merchandise inundation really took off with the movies. That said, I remember even at 13 being mildly surprised to see it in the school as my first exposure to the books was reading a Time article about the “controversial” but well-regarded books. Yep, the “wizarding school” books were clearly leading good Christian girls and boys to witchcraft and satan. It seems ridiculous that anyone felt that way, but I can attest it was real; my sister in law wasn’t allowed to read these and I still feel like she was done a disservice by her parents.
In Harry Potter’s ubiquity, I had forgotten how long it had been since I read the books – I was in line at midnight for Deathly Hallows, but I’m not sure I’ve read the first in the series after that first time – and I had REALLY forgotten how subversive this is for something geared toward children. Having grown up along with the books and how gradual the maturing of their tone and content was, I forgot how young the first book skewed. This is for kids, but it is all about resistance to injustice.
I kept getting shades of 45 all through the book – hell, they even call him “you know who” – and how standing up for what is right is important, even at great personal cost.
I honestly think, having reread this, that that is what the right wing ACTUALLY objected to – the idea that their kids would stand up to authority – and just used the witchcraft as a dog whistle to loop in moderate conservatives (remember the halcyon days when they existed?) and Christians who didn’t know any better. In any case, if in heaven there is no Harry Potter, I think I’ll be staying here.