If you read Harry Potter you are a better human being than those who don’t, according to science.
A new paper published in the Journal of Applied Psychology claims ‘reading the Harry Potter series significantly improved young peoples’ perception of stigmatised groups like immigrants, homosexuals or refugees’ writes .
It seems like all those tweets that JK Rowling correlates with moments in the wizarding franchise actually hold some weight.
Personally speaking, I quit the books after the Prisoner of Azkaban... Now I think about it, I do stigmatise immigrants, homosexuals, and refugees a lot. Guilty!
I suppose when you think about the term ‘Mudblood’ used for non-magic folk, it can be traced to pretty much any other racially discriminatory slang.
If kids reading the Harry Potter books realise it’s wrong when Draco Malfoy picks on people who have no say in who they are fundamentally, then it makes sense that they grow up to be pretty open-minded adults.
There are parrellels in the book with famous quotes from history.
For example, when Albus Dumbledore slates the Minister of Magic, he says:
You place too much importance, and you always have done, on the so-called purity of blood! You fail to recognise that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!
It echoes a statement made by Martin Luther King, Jr during his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Similarly, the Pacific Standard notes of the study:
Bigotry, the researchers note, is a continuing theme in the series of phenomenally popular young-adult novels.
Voldemort, who represents pure evil, makes arguments that have ‘rather obvious’ parallels with Nazism, they write, noting that he believes all power should reside in ‘pure-blood’ witches and wizards, as opposed to those born of one magical parent and one non-magical ‘Muggle.’
In addition, Harry and his friends interact with various sub-human species such as elves and goblins, who regularly complain about being forced into subservient roles, not unlike blacks in apartheid South Africa. Harry ‘tries to understand them and appreciate their difficulties.
Answering a fan’s question on the topic last year, JK Rowling said:
The expressions ‘pure-blood’, ‘half-blood’ and ‘muggle-born’ have been coined by people to whom these distinctions matter and express their originators’ prejudices.
As far as somebody like Lucius Malfoy is concerned, for instance, a muggle-born [wizard] is as bad as a muggle. Therefore Harry would be considered only half-wizard because of his mother’s grandparents.
If you think this is far-fetched, look at some of the real charts the Nazis used to show what constituted ‘Aryan’ or ‘Jewish’ blood.
I saw one in the Holocaust Museum in Washington when I had already devised the ‘pure-blood’, ‘half-blood’ and ‘muggle-born’ definitions and was chilled to see that the Nazis used precisely the same warped logic as the Death Eaters.
A single Jewish grandparent ‘polluted’ the blood, according to their propaganda.
So there we have it. If you’re mad for Potter you’re probably not a Nazi. And they say children’s books are stupid!