Thursday, February 27, 2014
Harry Potter and Government Abuse of Power
I recently rewatched the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In this movie, the governing body of the wizarding world refused to acknowledge the danger presented by the return of the evil wizard Voldemort. Both the headmaster of Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore, and Harry Potter defended the fact that Voldemort had returned. In order to squelch the "vicious rumor," the Ministry of Magic sent Delores Umbridge to Hogwarts to take over.
Professor Umbridge (played brilliantly by Imelda Staunton) quickly assumed control of the school, promising the students on the first day that certain beliefs and actions would no longer be tolerated. She immediately turned on Harry Potter, who, having already dueled with Voldemort, was not about to change his "beliefs" merely because it corresponded to the party line. Umbridge punished Potter for speaking up about his beliefs. Little by little, she gained complete control of the school and soon ran Hogwarts as a totalitarian ruler. She published rule after rule, making them up as one student or another did something to displease her. While becoming a dictator, she lamely attempted to justify her actions in order to "protect" the children at Hogwarts. In the end, Umbridge got her comeuppance and was forced out of power.
This is not a review of the movie.
After watching the movie, I realized that a lot of the people in the United States, especially liberal ideologues, would look at Umbridge and come to an utterly wrong conclusion about her abuse of power. Many people would view Umbridge as a model of the dangers of conservatism. They would see her as nothing more than a McCarthy-esque proof of the dangers of conservative ideals.
I found a different message from Umbridge's abuse of power - that power corrupts and government cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Umbridge represents "the establishment" - the people in power who want to remain in power, even at the expense of admitting the grave dangers facing them.
See, the problem isn't that Umbridge represents modern conservatives who want to put our federal government back under the control of the people, the problem is that Umbridge represents the "conservatives" who are currently in power. In the US, those in power are called modern liberals, not conservatives. None of the power elite liberals have the best interests of the US at heart. Unfortunately, too many Americans (and quite a few illegal aliens) agree with the dogmas of modern liberalism. Thus, the voters keep placing these government power-mongers back into office, year after year.
These are the establishment politicians in the US, the people in power in Washington who neglect the country, who rewrite the Constitution in their image, after their own likeness, and who want to protect their position and doctrine no matter the cost to the rest of the country.
I'm not talking about Republicans or Democrats here. Both parties are to blame for the power that the federal government has usurped, then inflicted on the people. And like Umbridge, the power elite rule arbitrarily, no longer obligated to consider the US Constitution as a standard of the legal imperative.
Like Umbridge, the current power elite in Washington want to squelch any mention of the true dangers facing the US today: overspending, out of control bureaucracy, the national debt, class warfare, corruption in government, lobbies (particularly public union lobbies), abysmally bad education, abuses of power, and, not at all the least, moral turpitude.
Those who promote democracy, and by extension, the free market, have a good track record of also limiting the abuses of government. When the US government got out of line in the past, the principles of democracy prevailed, sometimes bloodily, but they prevailed.
We no longer talk in our schools about democracy, about freedom, about liberty, and, yes, about true equality. Instead, texts and teachers tell us what to think, not how to think. Our government, our educational system, and the minds of many Americans (including the mainstream media) have all but turned into Professor Umbridge, gleefully searching for opportunities to limit freedom in order to "protect" the rest of the citizens of the US.
Personally, I take umbrage at the thought of establishment politician ignoring the Constitution in order to promote dogmatic beliefs. Perhaps we will wake up to the dangers ahead of us before that power has been taken from us.