The year 2019 has come to an end and 2020 is upon us. 2019 was an epochal year in the history of Independent India and there were as many protests as there were efforts by the government to resolve the contradictions that persisted even seven decades after India became independent.
Apart from the usual antics in these protests that involved calling everyone who disagreed a Nazi or a Nazi enabler, there was another distinct feature in these protests. In almost every protest, there were placards that could be found which used a Harry Potter analogy for the current situation. The same could be observed in the case of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Protests.
There were numerous nonsensical Harry Potter placards that could be found. There was one that spoke of the manner in which teenagers had taken down Voldemort. “You are not even half as smart,” the placard told the Modi Government and ended with the proclamation of “Expelliarmus!” The Disarming Spell was Harry Potter’s Signature move and it was the one he used to kill Voldemort in the final battle at Hogwarts.
There was another that declared “Dumbledore” won’t let this happen. The placard does not make any sense at all given the fact that Dumbledore had died by the end of Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts. So, he is pretty much dead and dead men tell no tales and fight no battles.
Other than the fact that the teenagers do not really care about grammar, these posters were not even original.
There were more such placards that could be found in these anti-CAA protests. There was one that said, “If Hogwarts can get rid of Dolores Umbridge, there is hope for us too.” In the Harry Potter books, Umbridge appears in the fifth installment ‘The Order of the Phoenix’ where she is a Ministry of Magic stooge who makes life hell for everyone at the Hogwarts School of Magic.
One thing that is clear from these placards is that the millennial anti-CAA crowd take the Harry Potter books very seriously. Whenever they have to make some argument and convince others, the fantasy series is the one they rely on every single time. Some of them even used excerpts from the Harry Potter books to make their argument on social media.
— Raghavi Viswanath (@Pritha1995) December 17, 2019
Amidst the ensuing ruckus, one individual on Twitter, presumably from the anti-CAA crowd, even wondered why was it that all the Harry Potter analogies were coming from liberals. Gautam Bhatia asked people whether people in the rightwing weren’t too fond of Harry Potter in general.
Still have this question after the latest round, tbh. pic.twitter.com/Al164LNzKf
— Gautam Bhatia (@gautambhatia88) December 27, 2019
To answer Bhatia’s question, ‘rightwingers’ realize that the Harry Potter books fall in the fantasy genre of literature. The real world is much more complicated than that and analogies from the book are not really applicable in the world of politics as such. The world of Harry Potter is divided into clear shades of Black and White and there’s really no shades of grey in between. For instance, Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters are out and out monsters while Hogwarts is the brightest shade of white. The real world is much more complicated than that. On the best of days, it’s a million shades of grey. In modern day India, it could very well be argued that the ‘death eaters’ have taken control of the academia and proudly call themselves ‘liberal’. But let us not go down that route.
Some might argue that Severus Snape was a character in the grey zone but no one could really doubt that a morally complicated individual he may be but he died fighting for the forces of good. Some might even argue that Albus Dumbledore made some morally questionable decisions with regards to the main protagonist, as his brother Aberforth does in the books, but even then, no one could doubt that Dumbledore put Harry through all the mess because he believed it was for the greater good. Therefore, the world of Harry Potter was much too simple with clear shades of Black and White. The real world is not configured that way.
Coming back to the placards, they reflect the sort of juvenile, childish and immature mannerisms that the millennials have come to embody in recent times. Students at Hogwarts may have taken down Voldemort but they stand no chance against the current government. It’s obvious because while an overwhelming majority of students in the Wizarding World were with Dumbledore, it’s the reverse with regards to the CAA.
As we discovered soon after the CAA protests across Universities spread like wildfire, the anti-CAA brigade was a stark minority even within the University campuses. Furthermore, there’s no Dolores Umbridge in Indian Universities. Well, there may be odd one or a couple of them but really, who are we kidding here? It’s another one of those attempts to force fit a Harry Potter analogy into a political debate in order to appear ‘cool’.
Time and again we have witnessed this phenomenon. Whether it be the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States or Brexit, there’s always a bunch of millennials who are aggressive in the demonstration of their remarkable naivete and utter stupidity. And the Harry Potter books are the preferred tools in their arsenal which they use to prove to the world how they are completely out of touch with reality. As we have said before, the Harry Potter books represent a world where everything is divided into black and white. The real world, as we know it, is much more complicated than that.
Astonishingly, however, there’s a remarkable hubris that these millennials suffer from. According to them, it appears, unless you have read the Harry Potter books at least a million times and worship them like the Holy Vedas, you are not well-read enough. There’s also a self-serving myth that is perpetuated by this millennial class that the ‘rightwing’ is not well-read enough. Obviously, it could not be farther from the truth. ‘Sanghis’, as they like to call ‘rightwingers’, are often quite well-read and in many cases, they have read a vast number of more books than these millennials.
An argument could be made that Sanghis are not as fond as fiction as millennials are, but then again, it is more likely a consequence of the differences in their personality traits than a measure of intelligence. Personally speaking, as soon as I started turning towards the ‘rightwing’, I became progressively less interested in fiction. I am not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing, I am just saying it is how it is. And I have noticed a similar trend among my friends where ‘right’ leaning people are more interested in nonfiction while my liberal friends tend to read fiction primarily.
It is a symptom of remarkable intellectual inadequacy to draw analogies from a fantasy series and apply them to contentious matters of public life. The Harry Potter placards in the anti-CAA protests also provide us with a glimpse of the moral compass of millennials. Adults are expected to comprehend and appreciate the intricacies of public life, however, millennials appear to believe that every individual is either a saint or the devil incarnate himself. It reflects a morally stunted worldview and is ample evidence of the fact that the moral compass of millennials haven’t developed as well as they should have.
Millennials really need to escape the world of Harry Potter where everything is divided into clear shades of Black and White. And there’s only one cure for that. Read more goddamned books. And when I say more books, I mean books of a different genre, broaden your horizon, do not remain trapped in the same fuzzy world where everything is always alright in the end. Where the world is divided into good people and bad with no one in between. Books that make you think, that make you question your own perspective, read books that challenge your ideology with an open mind. When I say an open mind, I mean a mind that reads contrary points of view in order to learn something and not refute them.
Most importantly, for the love of Gods, stop using analogies from the fantasy world to real-world politics. It’s annoying and only makes one appear much more stupid than they actually are. If millennials are under the impression that they are convincing anyone with these Harry Potter placards, then I have to admit, they are a million times more stupid than I previously assumed them to be.
This new year, millennials should broaden their horizons enough to appreciate that not everyone who disagrees with them is a literal Nazi or an idiot. In the real world, people can have different perspectives on a matter without being evil. Controversial issues are controversial precisely because there are good men and women on both sides of the debate. And if, as an adult, millennials do not understand, then one can only sympathize with their stunted sense of morality.