This weekend I saw the new Harry Potter movie. Afterward, one of my friends wondered why Harry, Ron, and Hermione, on the run from snarly bad things, kept apparating – moving about magically – within the British Isles.
The snarly bad things were all UK-based. So why didn’t Harry and his friends hide out in Yosemite or the Grand Canyon? Come to think of it, why isn’t the USA name-checked even once in the seven Harry Potter books?
I think I can guess. If my country (‘tis of thee) were part of the Potterverse, there would be no mostly happy ending.
Think about it. How would the people of Britain and the United States react to the events in The Deathly Hallows?
Danger over; time for a nice cup of tea
In Britain, the Prime Minister would admit the existence of the magic world, express regret for the Muggle lives lost, and deliver the Minister for Magic’s assurances that the snarly bad things had been vanquished and normal life could resume.
The Sun would run a series of Page 3 Witches. Some Muggle kids would kick up a fuss because, like, how come they don’t get to go to Hogwarts, innit? But most Brits would shrug and go about their business.
Meanwhile, in the USA …
Right, so the Secretary of State for Magic vowed with his hand on Quidditch Through the Ages that no one like Voldemort would ever menace the Muggle world again. Like we’d fall for that.
The President would declare war against a new Axis of Evil — Witches, Wizards, and Warlocks — and call it something like Operation Debunk. Congress would double the defense budget (already doubled since 2001) to research the use of spells as weapons of mass destruction.
Roger Ailes would call magic people Nazis. Glenn Beck would draw pictures on his whiteboard of women in pointed hats. Sarah Palin would say she’d seen Warthogs from Wasilla.
The TSA would start strip-searching passengers for wands; Disney would change its name from the Magic Kingdom to the Muggle Realm; and Magic Markers would turn into Freedom Pens. Some Country & Western singer would write a new version of “Do You Believe in Magic?” with a chorus of “Hell no!”
A few liberals might protest the wholesale slaughter of innocent magic people, but most Americans would go along. Other nations would be asked to “terminate” their magic people “with extreme prejudice.” When pressed, Britain might fall in line. France probably wouldn’t.
Can you apparate out of Guantanamo? Can you kill a house-elf with a machine gun? Would expelliarmus work on a nuclear weapon?
Sweet land of liberty, I love you dearly, and it pains me to write this about you. But given the way things are going here: I think we’d bloody well find out.
Agree? Disagree? Wonder how your own country would react? That’s what the Comments are for!
Wikimedia Commons, I love you & will have your babies
“Half Dome in Winter” by Gunnar Widforss, 1922. Witches by Martin van Maele (1863-1926). Title page of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by W. W. Denslow, 1900. All in the public domain.
Protester by Rhiannon Paine. Yes, it’s crap. That’s why I’m a writer.