They have tried very hard to ban Harry. Time after time. According to the American Library Association, Harry Potter is the number one most often banned/ challenged book of the 21st century. Why all the hate? Especially in a world where I personally have never met anyone who did not love Harry.
The banning craze that developed around Harry Potter books supposedly has its origin in the fear of witchcraft and sorcery. Apparently, many people are concerned that Harry is promoting the occult, and beliefs like Wicca and Paganism that have NO DAMN BUSINESS in the good old You Ess of A . ( Call in the National Guard!!!! Witches and Wizards and Students! OH MY! )
This hatred of witches, of course has its origins in the bible. ‘Thou Shalt not suffer a witch to live’. So says Exodus 22:18.
I read that in the original Aramaic language this passage should have been translated as ‘Thou shalt not suffer a ‘m’khashepah’ ( translated as ‘evil doer’ connotation of murderer) to live’. No mention of the word ‘witch’. (The word ‘witch’ by the way, originally meant ‘wise ‘.)
But the good folks over at Bible Translation Service, Inc. (also known as Puritans Rope ’em and Grope ’em — or The Spanish Inquisition Burning Machine) decided to throw in the word ‘witch’. Just for fun.
That one little mess up of a word caused the deaths of approximately 100,000 men and women throughout Europe and the Americas between the years 1450 -1700. Witch genocide still takes place in Africa and the Caribbean.
But back to Harry. Is the fear of witches still so prevalent in the US that people go up in arms over a children’s book? Is America still that Puritanical?
Personally I think there may be more to it. Harry’s story itself may be what upsets people.
Harry is a disenfranchised orphan who is left to the mercy of his evil relatives until he discovers his unique and special abilities at Hogwarts. He happens to be taught by witches and wizards but that is not really the point. The point is empowerment. Harry undergoes a fantastic transformation. He becomes capable, powerful, whole. And the idea of the disenfranchised becoming empowered is enough to scare the be-jesus out of the Powers That Be.
Harry is the every man, the working girl, the average Joe (or Jo) who somehow unleashes potential within him/herself. And if Harry can do it, maybe we all can do it. This is the true gift of Harry and also the reason why they would ban him.
But in the end Harry wins! That is because you cannot keep the light down. Go into any public library in the US and chances are you will see Harry. Go into any bookstore and you will find him, sitting on the bookshelf, peering through his little round glasses. Maybe even riding a broom in a game of Quiddich. He says “Come with me. Do not be stifled by their small view of you! Unlock your wizardly powers and be free!”
Yep. The most subversive stuff in America.