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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to the book's author, Matthew Latimer, J.K. Rowling's name was once in consideration for a presidential medal but was rescinded because the books "encouraged witchcraft."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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80450 Points

It is important to understand that the Bush’s indeed DID like the HP books. It is also important to understand that they probably were never even appraised that Jo was being considered for an award. The Bush White House was only exceeded in staff paranoia and craziness by the Nixon White House. It is quite possible that this will be relegated to the status of an unprovable rumor. But, I maintain it certainly fits in with the character of several of the staff members who would be in a position to review such an award before passing it along to the “boss” with a positive recommendation.

Posted by Won_Two on September 24, 2009, 10:33 PM report to moderator
618 Points

how very sad she must be…..what a loss, an endorsement of any kind from the bush administration.

Posted by Daate on September 24, 2009, 10:34 PM report to moderator
246 Points

this makes me so mad!

Posted by Loveforluna on September 24, 2009, 10:37 PM report to moderator
306 Points

I’m a Christian, and very big on never falling into stuff like that. I read the Sorcerer’s Stone back when I was nine (before the massive craze was going on), and it NEVER occurred to me that HP was any different (except, of course, for the quality of the writing) than any other fantasy book I had on my shelves. It’s not a good card to play to say it’s just fiction, because, fiction or no fiction, what you read influences you…but I was never in any way encouraged to look into the occult because of Harry Potter. Magic in HP is more of a superpower, along the lines of Justice League or something equally harmless. I don’t have any opinions on the whole medal thing, except that it doesn’t sound like it’s true at all. Any kind of obviously biased book like that needs to have solid facts behind it to sell any opinion. But it makes me laugh to see some people go off on the evils of Harry Potter and endorse other certain fantasy books with lesser writing quality and questionable teenage morals…a particular series that shall not be named here for fear of starting a mob-revolt.

Posted by zeitgeber on September 24, 2009, 10:51 PM report to moderator
738 Points

Un-be-lieve-a-ble. No, wait, I TOTALLY believe it. These guys were ridiculous — the ones that are left still are. Good riddance. Hope you had the time of your life.

Posted by bettb [ITC!] on September 24, 2009, 10:55 PM report to moderator
478 Points

ugh i hate people like that!!!!

Posted by ProfessorAlice on September 24, 2009, 11:00 PM report to moderator
171 Points

I don’t really believe this.

Posted by eagleblue on September 24, 2009, 11:20 PM report to moderator
1231 Points

All I can say is… wow.

Posted by Tassana Burrfoot on September 24, 2009, 11:30 PM report to moderator
59 Points

I don’t get why everyone’s beating up Bush. It was his speech writer that said it!

Posted by SpitFyre on September 24, 2009, 11:32 PM report to moderator
2702 Points

Okay? _’’

Posted by Mairéad on September 24, 2009, 11:46 PM report to moderator
310 Points

Well that’s a giant ball of crap… people who’ve objected to honouring J.K. Rowling have clearly not read the books. Harry Potter doesn’t even encourage the kind of “witchcraft” they’re afraid of (I say “afraid of” because it’s stupid). If they did, I would not be here typing this. I would be off making voodoo dolls for people that annoy me.

Though it is uplifting to say that every First Family of the United States are fans of the Harry Potter books. :)

Posted by accioangela on September 24, 2009, 11:51 PM report to moderator
5089 Points

This is just propaganda to put down the Bush administration. Pleaseeeeeee

Posted by laura399 {WBM} on September 25, 2009, 12:33 AM report to moderator
879 Points

I wouldn’t be surprised, given the administration we’re talking about. At least that’s over and done with. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

Posted by deadtree ♥WBM♥ on September 25, 2009, 01:26 AM report to moderator
397 Points

That’s fricking ridiculous! All that HP has done for this world in terms of getting kids to pick up a book and they go and say it promotes witchcraft. It’s called imagination, kids tend to like it! Gees what a rip off.

Posted by spiritbound on September 25, 2009, 04:09 AM report to moderator
1910 Points

That is just RIDICULOUS!!! If Harry Potter encouraged witchcraft all the Harry Potter fans would join witchcraft meaning that the half population of earth would be wizards and witches…. And HELLO Harry Potter isn’t the only story talking about witchcraft……

Posted by Jane_Potter on September 25, 2009, 04:46 AM report to moderator
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