Rowling has forgotten long ago that her books are being read by Muggles
Posted to unfunnybusiness because of discussion of racism and comparison to racism/anti-immigrantism/ableism in RL.
terri_testing posts an essay Whose Blood is Purest: Considerations on Slytherin House on Snapedom. An excerpt:
Please note that Draco Pureblood Malfoy never once used the opprobrious epithet ‘Mudblood’ of Hermione (or anyone) until after SHE had mortally insulted HIM by asserting that Malfoy could never have made his house’s Quidditch team without cheating. (Maybe Hermione had been channeling Trelawney in this scene—and how Hermione would have hated that!—and projected forward to HBP, when only cheating—hers—could get someone on the team. In my grade school, we used to sing to someone who’d accused another of transgressing schoolyard codes, “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, what you say is what you are.”)
Before Draco entered Hogwarts, he had an encounter with a kid dressed in Muggle cast-offs—and he tried, repeatedly, to strike up a conversation with him. Only after the presumed Muggle-born had rudely snubbed his every conversational overture did Draco start asking about Harry’s family and pontificating about how Hogwarts shouldn’t let “the other sort” in. (Thanks, duj, for having pointed this out.)
IOW: Draco didn’t start with Pureblood supremacist rantings the moment he met his first (if illusory) Muggle-born. He turned to that after being snubbed by the supposed Muggle-born, perhaps to protect himself from being hurt by Harry’s rejection, perhaps to hit back.
And he didn’t talk about blood purity; he talked about the outsiders “not knowing our ways.”—which Harry had, in fact, just been demonstrating.
At the beginning of CoS when Lucius criticized Draco’s grades, Draco protested “the teachers all have favorites, that Hermione Granger—”
It’s his father who pointed out that Hermione was “a girl of no wizard family” who nonetheless beat Draco “in every exam.” (Um—every exam? So that would include Potions? Then Snape did grade fairly on his finals, as some of us had otherwise surmised? And, er, no one else, apparently, beat Draco’s exam scores? Oh, how he must have hated Hermione--not for her blood status, but as his only serious academic rival. And notice that neither father nor son, speaking privately, attached opprobrious epithets to the despiséd Hermione.)
And Mr. Borgin, listening in, inserted (greasily, per JKR), “It’s the same all over. Wizard blood is counting for less everywhere—”
Let’s get this straight, because subtle differences matter. The “stooping” Mr. Borgin (who may therefore have been older, of an earlier pureblood generation) implied strongly that “wizard blood” ought to “count” to get Draco the better grade, regardless of whether Draco’s performance had actually merited it.
Lucius Malfoy, in contrast, argued explicitly that his pureblood son ought to be able to EARN a higher grade than “a girl of no wizard family.”
And Draco protested (unconvincingly, in my view) that Muggle-born Hermione’s higher grade was earned by being a teacher’s pet, and thus (implicitly) that truly fair grading would have put Draco first.
Let’s review Draco’s logic. A scion of the Slytherin pureblood filthy-wealthy elite finds it plausible (in 1992) to assert that he’s the put-upon victim of unfair grading at Hogwarts? That Dumbledore’s teachers (including Snape?) would unjustly grade a Muggle-born Gryffindor higher than a rich pureblood Slytherin?
Not that I accept Draco’s excuse, but that Draco could offer that argument to his father and expect to be believed casts a FASCINATING light on the Hogwarts subculture.
'after she had mortally insulted him'
Hermione made the connection between Draco's dad buying the whole team expensive equipment and him getting on the team.
Malfoy retaliated by calling her a racial slur, implying that she (and her family) were by their nature sub-human.
I'm curious - if she had been black and Malfoy had called her a 'filthy little nigger', would you still be jumping to his defence? Because there really isn't much difference.
oryx_leucoryx responds with Well, the question is how does Draco (and others) use said epithet. It turns out that in her entire first year at Hogwarts Hermione never heard the word. She had to ask what it meant (as opposed to the movie version of the same situation). Which means Draco and others of his upbringing and views were not using it in public on a regular basis. Draco had to be driven a bit off balance to use the word. He probably knew at the very least that using the word in broad daylight would be viewed negatively either by people of power or by people whose opinion mattered to him. (This is consistent with his parents never using the word within Harry's hearing while still implying heavily they were thinking somewhere along those lines, though possibly not entirely so.)
I can't answer for Terri why she chose this wording, but it does make for more fun reading. While Rowling probably meant mudblood to be a racial slur it is only such if you accept blood-based prejudice in the Potterverse as a good metaphor for real world racism. If you think blood-based prejudice is some other kind of prejudice that differs significantly from real world racism or that its criticism within the Potterverse is itself hypocritical and based in a broader kind of bigotry then comparing the word mudblood to real world racial slurs is inappropriate. Yes, mudblood is some kind of slur. Is it a racial slur? An ethnic slur? A slur of some other kind that does not exist in our world? and wank with cries of "Pureblood prejudice is not racism", "But Muggles are different from wizards, like different species!" and "JKR herself is racist towards Muggles" ensues.
ETA: excerpts from the wanky thread:
The closest 'real world' slur I would find appropriate would be a white person calling another white person 'white trash'. Muggleborn wizards and witches are wizards and witches, after all, and belong therefore to the same 'race' as pureblood witches and wizards.
Um - but, Sailorlum, I have a serious problem with "anti-Muggle/Muggleborn prejudice = racism", and it is this. Unlike real human races, which are essentially a social fiction, Muggles truly are inferior to Wizards in some ways. They do not have the same abilities, do not live as long, cannot control Wizards' minds and memories as Wizards can control theirs, and so on. Also, Wizards call them MUGGLES! Does any normal person in these books call him or herself a Muggle? No? I didn't think so. I sure don't. I'm a human being!
Wizards - even the good ones. like Arthur Weasley - simply do not see Muggles as fully human. And the differences between Wizards and Muggles are real, genetic, and truly handicap ordinary human beings. This is not any type of racism that actually exists in the real world. Oh, I know - racists will SAY things to this effect (women can't reason, African peoples are emotional, not rational; Arabs are invariably cruel and violent, and so on) You do hear stuff like that in the real world, and it makes what Rowling is describing seem like real-world racism. But -
Muggles really, truly are different from Wizards. They might as well be different species. And we are not given one example of any Muggleborn who chose to remain in the Muggle world, nor of a single happy and successful Muggle/Magical marriage. This is why some readers have found equating blood prejudice to real world racism actually offensive.
And others have explained to you at length why we don't think it is a good fit, any more than a dog jacket is a good fit for a monkey although both animals have the same number of limbs and may be approximately the same size.
There is no exact analogue in the real world for HP prejudice against Muggles and Muggle-borns. As a Jew, I find JK's attempt to conflate wizard Mugglism/Muggle-bornism with anti-Semitism (Nazi or otherwise) actively offensive. Not only is it *not* analogous, but in some ways it turns the situation on its head. Historically, it is Jews who have been the endangered and/or hidden minority (and the more able, for that matter, although not traditionally in the arts of war).
I'm sorry, but I feel this needs to be said: some of the participants in this discussion value precision whereas you, Sailorlum, do not.
That is your prerogative. No one is saying that you should value precision or always/usually strive to speak precisely. Precision and imprecision both have their places. In general conversation, it is not only unnecessary but counter-productive to communication to care whether something took place at 10.26.04 or at approximately 10.30 am.
It does matter to a cardiologist, a policeman or a race judge in the execution of their duties, however. When a discussion is predicated on precise definition of terms, imprecision is an obstacle and an infliction. It muddies the waters instead of clearing them.
The treatment of Muggles is important to me because I am a Muggle and I am reading the books from a Muggle POV. While Rowling may have intended to have the reader identify with Harry who finds the wizarding world wonderful and wants to save it and immerse himself in it, I find the wizarding world by the time I reached the epilogue so dystopic and I find so little acknowledgment from anyone in that world of its horrors that the people I identify most with in her story are probably Hermione's parents or the Muggle prime-minister, and what I want for the story is neither Voldemort's nor Harry's victory but just to have that world implode, or at least keep itself contained so its internal issues don't spill into mine.
Why is it important not to call pureblood prejudice racism? It isn't just about quibbling about small details. Calling prejudice to Muggle-borns as racism makes it impossible to ask what is it about acceptance of Muggle-borns that makes some purebloods want it to stop. It is racism, therefore it is wrong therefore it has to just stop. When Rowling wants readers to make the equation she is asking us to assume the reasons purebloods want to stop the acceptance of Muggle-borns are the same as the reasons white-supremacists want to stop integration of races in western societies and the only correct solution is the continued admittance and integration of Muggle-borns. And we are only invited to look at it as the equivalent of white-supremacism and the like - ie a privileged group scrambling to maintain its status. Why isn't it the equivalent of, say, a tribe in the Amazon that knows that exposure to the outside world and integration of outsiders will soon bring an end to its culture and way of life? (Thanks smallpotato/marionros for this analogy.) Or maybe it is neither - we can't know without looking at the facts.
With all the assumption that Muggle-borns are entitled an entry to wizarding society simply for being magical and anything else would be racist we cannot examine the question if Hogwarts education and entry into magical society is what best serves the needs of Muggle-born children and whether they would have chosen that life for themselves had they known all the facts in time. Nor can we argue if this is best for the wizarding world, or even the Muggle world - because we are supposedly excusing racism. And even if one might be able to understand that the unqualified integration of Muggle-borns may have negative consequences to some, if we just use the term racism we can't allow any other approach.
I strongly disagree. Recognizing anti-Muggle-born prejudice as racism (or blood prejudice in general as racism) doesn’t have to stop anyone from looking into the explanations for it.
It doesn't necessarily have to but it usually does. Because currently in western society an accusation of racism is a conversation stopper (or derailer, to be more accurate). The best way to make anything criticism-proof is to label its critcism racism.
While magical parents can make an informed choice, Muggle parents are not in position to do so because they do not know and cannot know the facts about Hogwarts education, how much it differs from typical education. They can't see the castle, they are not invited to visit it, they don't meet anyone but a chosen representative of the school who would do all s/hey can, including the use of mental magical manipulation (see Dumbledore and Mrs Cole) to ensure the child attends Hogwarts. They are not making a free choice they are being manipulated into it. And every year a child spends at Hogwarts s/he falls further behind in hir ability to make a living in the Muggle world. The wizarding world, with Hogwarts as its gateway, is very much like a cult and it uses the means that cults use to trap followers.
The fic I would like to see is one where the Grangers, after returning from Australia, contact the Creeveys and form a support group for Muggle parents of magical children. Perhaps they'd also have Seamus' father. Perhaps Severus, now living in the Muggle world, helps them track down parents of children under 11 who have yet to receive their letters (I bet he has a way to get the information from the Hogwarts magical quill).
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