George Bush’s war on witchcraft
A new book by a former White House speech writer claims administration officials advised George Bush against giving J.K. Rowling a Presidential Medal of Freedom because her Harry Potter children’s books promote witchcraft, according to Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch site.
Let’s allow that news to settle in for a moment.
There’s little sport in making fun of Bush. The man did so many dumb things right out in the open, it’s a fish-and-barrel kind of thing.
Like breaking protocol to give German Chancellor Angela Merkel a neck massage in the middle of a G8 summit. Or trying to exit a White House press conference through a locked door. Why the nation tolerated this bufoonery for eight years is an enduring mystery.
But denying Rowling a medal because her books “promote witchcraft” takes even his record of clod-headed acts and decisions to a new level.
Uh, Mr. President, witchcraft is make believe. It doesn’t actually exist.
The revelation comes in Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor, by former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer, latest in the parade of rats cashing in by revealing the inner workings of the Bush ship of state.
Already lengthy, the list keeps growing: L. Paul Bremer III’s My Year in Iraq; Scott McClelland’s What Happened; The Best of Our Times, by Tom Ridge– these are just a few of the tell-alls by former Bush officials revealing cynicism, bad faith, manipulation and other acts of greater or lesser mischief.
Perhaps the most damning charge so far comes from Ridge, former Homeland Security chief. In The Best of Our Times, he claims the Bush administration manipulated the national threat level just before the 2004 election.
I guess it’s a good thing these paragons are setting the record straight, but I can’t help but wonder why they remained silent while the Bush administration was in power. Makes me long for an earlier generation, when public servants had the spine to act on principles other than what was good for their careers.
Like Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus, who resigned during the Watergate scandal when Richard Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.
Speaking of Rowling, the irony of Bush denying her a Medal of Freedom is delicious. Not only is she the most popular novelist on the planet, she also single-handedly revived a love of reading for an entire generation of children. But there’s more.
By the end of the last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it was blaringly obvious that her themes were conventionally Christian: love, duty, discipline, self-sacrifice, the primacy of family, and doing the right thing in the face of great danger and opposition.
This places her firmly in the fantasy tradition of Christian writers C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom, by the way, is America’s highest civilian honor, given for, among other things, significant cultural contribution to the public good. Need it be said Rowling would have made a splendid selection?