Perhaps ironically apropos for Banned Books Week is the following: “When author J.K. Rowling was proposed as a recipient for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, [President George W.] Bush nixed the idea because Rowling’s Harry Potter series ‘encouraged witchcraft.'”
Truly a WTF??? moment. Now whether Bush himself canned the idea is open to debate. The book that is quoted actually says “people in the White House” objected because “the Harry Potter books encouraged witchcraft.” Still, the fact the executive branch of a 21st Century America is worried about witchcraft ought to frighten anyone.
Also, whether Rowling had earned this country’s highest civilian award could be debated. To earn the Medal of Freedom, an individual must have contributed to: (1) the country’s security or national interests, 2) world peace, or 3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. I can see Rowling being honored because her series truly got children reading. But to reject someone who introduced thousands of kids to the “magic of reading” on the grounds of witchcraft demonstrates who truly is living in a fantasy world.
I have met thousands of children now, and not even one time has a child come up to me and said, “Ms. Rowling, I’m so glad I’ve read these books because now I want to be a witch.”
J.K. Rowling, Oct. 21, 1999