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Book Rumor: Bush administration denied J.K. Rowling medal because Harry Potter books "encouraged witchcraft"

J.K. Rowling
Posted by: Melissa
September 24, 2009, 02:25 PM

The new book SPEECH-LESS: Tales of a White House Survivor, a behind-the-scenes account of life in the George W. Bush presidential administration (published by Crown Books), has an interesting nugget for Harry Potter fans, as a reader has pointed out: according to the book's author, Matthew Latimer, J.K. Rowling's name was once in consideration for a presidential medal but was rescinded because the books "encouraged witchcraft." The relevant text is on page 201 of the book and reads:


[President Bush's chief speechwriter] Marc [Thiessen] liked to encourage a broad range of opinions from others, so long as theirs agreed with his. When Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I suggested that the president might at least consider awarding Kennedy the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Marc objected with the genteel diplomacy he was known for. 'That's crazy!' he thundered. ...This was the same sort of narrow thinking that led people in the White House to actually object to giving the author J.K. Rowling a presidential medal because the Harry Potter books encouraged witchcraft.

George W. Bush served as president of the United States from January 2001 to January 2009. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." It is not always given to an American: during the Bush administration, presidential medal recipients included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

During the Bush administration, the president and his wife, First Lady Laura Bush, were very vocal about their like for the Harry Potter books; Laura Bush called them her "favorite": "It was like finding a great mystery writer and having that whole body of work to read at once. I really loved them," she said.

You can purchase the book here.


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186 Comments

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566 Points

I love the HP series and I like Rowling, but I don’t really see how she would deserve a Presidental medal just for her series getting kids to read. It’d be cool if she got one, but it’s not bad that she doesn’t. I sincerely doubt if she was up for a medal that Bush denied it with reasons that her series promotes witchcraft. I think this is just another way to tarnish his name.

Posted by blue4t on September 26, 2009, 12:25 PM report to moderator
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118 Points

Wait a minute…Bush and the Mrs like the HP books but the narrow-minded, clueless, ignorant speechwriter says “no” to giving JKR a medal because of the unfortunately-still-perpetuated lie about the books teaching witchcraft? Did Bush ever find out about this? I’m thinking probably not. Well, that administration was staffed with idiots. I guess the speechwriter was just another one.

Posted by iamminerva on September 26, 2009, 10:13 PM report to moderator
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3006 Points

What???!!! Harry does Not promote or encourage witchcraft!
Besides the books are about like ,growing up and finding out who you are and what you have to do no matter how hard or easy it is! it just has magic thrown in !!!

Posted by muggle..andproudofit =:) on September 27, 2009, 12:15 PM report to moderator
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839 Points

Well, iamminerva, It probably wouldn’t have mattered if Bush had found out about it. It’s not like he can veto opinions. I doubt he really liked the books. He probably did because so many of the public did. It wasn’t hard to see how popular the series was and still is. It’s like the fact that he believes whole-heartedly in every belief his religion held. It’s very rare to find someone who truely believes in every belief. A lot of people will believe in most, but disagree on some. Or believe in some and disagree with most. But most, if not all, of those who hold true to all beliefs usually do so because when they were asked the question, “Why do you believe in that?” the only answer they can come up with is “Because that’s the way I was raised.” They never thought different. They never question and it leads to the type of ignorance we see right here when the award was denied. The first thing they hear about a subject is the only thing they’ll ever consider about it.

Posted by Luce {ROAR!} on September 27, 2009, 03:51 PM report to moderator
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2616 Points

For all of the people who are criticizing George Bush because of this, they would find something to criticize anyway. He wasn’t even mentioned in the excerpt from the book—it said the “people in the White House.” The book sounds like a disgruntled employee just trying to make a few dollars by criticizing Bush, and he knows plenty of people will buy the book if he does that!

Posted by danaskeeter *ROAR!* on September 27, 2009, 04:03 PM report to moderator
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839 Points

At blue4t, Yes she does have tons of awards and it is another way to tarnish his name(personaly I think it has more to do with making us feel guilty and consider our choices a little more carefully), but she got kids to read agian. The kids in my elementary school wouldn’t pick up a book to stop the apocolypse. We had this program, that is still active in this region today, named Accelerated Reading(AR). It required children to read books and test upon them. They would earn points based on the amount offered for that specific book and how well they did on the test. A certain amount of points were required to pass each grade level. It made sound okay, but when you look at the kids from this region you lost hope. I have enjoyed reading before I joined the scholary force and so I was burdened with carrying them until my sixth grade year. I found out later that it’s an actual crime to do so, but the teachers knew the students and encouraged it by turning a blind eye and they would even come over and try to help me.

Plus you should really check out the damage he did to the educational system with the “no child left behind” act. He should give her an award for helping to pick the pieces up from that disaster. Even if it was unintentionally.

I don’t know if you realize the real importantance reading has.

Posted by Luce {ROAR!} on September 27, 2009, 04:11 PM report to moderator
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553 Points

it’s just a book..if the white house really thinks it encourages people to witchcraft, it’s non-sense..all who have read harry potter books, we all knew that most of the characters value the secrecy of their status as witches and wizards.i do not see something in the book that would encourage people to do witchcraft..most people do love harry potter simply because they admire the entire harry potter books and not that they were being encourage to do witchcraft..

Posted by ♫♣*{ȡa!ζy__ßeLL}*♣♫ on September 28, 2009, 12:15 AM report to moderator
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172 Points

That is just crazy!!! JK Rowling does lots of charity work too and Harry
Potter does NOT encourage witchcraft!!1

Posted by Lily Evans Potter on September 28, 2009, 06:45 AM report to moderator
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3153 Points

Not cool. She should have gotten the award.

Posted by Leeann on September 28, 2009, 07:37 AM report to moderator
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2417 Points

This seems a little sketchy

Posted by Hagrid 713 (ROAR) on September 28, 2009, 10:36 AM report to moderator
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889 Points

Perhaps the new president, President Obama, will allow the medal as he has read all of her books to his children and has already had JK Rowling come to the White House.

Posted by molly43 on September 28, 2009, 10:52 AM report to moderator
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288 Points

How quick you are to believe a statement about someone you don’t like, even though the proof is that the Bush’s loved the Harry Potter books. Grow up kiddies.

Posted by Fereverto on September 28, 2009, 07:50 PM report to moderator
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3560 Points

This does not surprise me, no matter how wrong it is. I worked with someone that actually started avoiding me because I was excited about the latest release coming up. She refused to allow her children to read the evil inside (her actual words). No one that has actually read the books ever says that they are all about witchcraft. They are about the eternal battle of good vs evil, the little guy fighting for what is right, and how it is not always easy but it is better than the alternative.

Posted by Brosia, OoM 2 [WBM] on September 29, 2009, 01:42 AM report to moderator
Groucho2_thumb

Had a thought, and did a quick check of the previous postings this morning just to be sure….I may have missed this in someone’s earlier message, apologies if I did….

in the spirit of “let’s lighten things up”, didn’t it occur to anyone to compare Thiessen, the speechwriter who allegedly made the Kennedy decision, to our favorite detestable bureaucrat, Dolores Umbridge?

Also, going by the short snippet available, the exact wording is “people in the White House” objected to JKR receiving an award. In other words, multiple unnamed Umbridges!!!! Umbridges are everywhere, in all political parties, in all businesses and schools and every social situation. ….and as we know the real danger is when Umbridges are able to achieve unchecked power.

we need to remember that Melissa, the Leaky Staff, and many fans are devoted to finding and sharing every little scrap of HP related information, rumor, images, events, and so on…that’s why we bother to come to this site, isn’t it? Well, that and the dazzling conversations we enjoy with one another. The source of the news posting was an unnamed TLC reader, and Melissa passed it along, since she shares and knows our insatiable desire for every little bit of HP information. …thanks to all involved who make every effort to keep Leaky the most informative HP fan site!

Now, when will Amazon.com FINALLY offer HBP for pre-order? bit odd that they have the two ultimate collections already listed, but not HBP, dontchathink? something very strange there…. working with some rumors I have heard, I think here in the US Walmart is trying to get an exclusive right to distribute HBP for one week before its available through other venders, but I cannot confirm this.

;-)

Posted by budb on September 29, 2009, 10:03 AM report to moderator
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90 Points

so annoying….

Posted by Ruby Hagrid {WBM} on September 29, 2009, 12:20 PM report to moderator
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