Angie Minew, recently called for a gathering outside Inquiring Minds to protest Brian Donoghue’s Trump-Swastika window display. With protesters and reporters present, Minew held a sign reading “This Would NOT Happen at Hogwarts.” I am writing to say she’s correct, but that’s the problem.
Hogwarts, in J. K. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series, serves as the school for witches and wizard from 6th-12th grade. These students are exposed to the wonders of magic, all joyful talents, with the occasional Dark Arts class to warn them about general dangers of the world. However, what is absent in these teachings are lessons about Voldemort.
The Dark Lord’s war ended in 1981, just one decade before Harry enters Hogwarts. Despite this, Harry and his peers are not taught about the genocide Voldemort committed against Muggles and Muggle-borns, or how he will was willing to ignore the universal laws put forth by wizards. Instead, stories of Voldemort were hidden, the students learning through whispers and rumors more than formal classroom instruction. So, in this sense, Minew is correct: Hogwarts wouldn’t have a Voldemort-Death-Eater symbol on display, or in our case, a Trump-swastika.
But here is why Minew is wrong: Hogwarts should have. These students, and the Wizarding World as a whole, were not prepared for the second rise of Voldemort. No matter how obvious the signs were, the ones who made these connections were ignored as others believed the re-rise of such powerful hate to be impossible. Many joined Voldemort’s cause, some believing this time it would be different, but they were wrong. If the school had devoted time to raising the conversation about Voldemort and his hatred, students like Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle may not have joined him in his second rise. Instead, Hogwarts chose sensitivity over historical knowledge, a decision leading to even more discrimination and death.
That is what Donoghue aims to prevent with his banner. He wishes to spark a conversation, protected under the 1st Amendment. We have an obligation to teach our youth about the evils of the past so we do not repeat them. Of course this will not come easy, specifically when the events are as horrific has the Holocaust or genocide, though this does not mean the conversation should not take place. “Never Forget” is not a promise to simply remember, but instead to speak out to prevent atrocities from happening again. Applying historical knowledge to present situations is only way to prevent wrongs from being replicated so we, together, can prevent the rise of the next Dark Lord.
Saugerties High School ’14
Le Moyne College Political Science Major