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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to the book's author, Matthew Latimer, J.K. Rowling's name was once in consideration for a presidential medal but was rescinded because the books "encouraged witchcraft."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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43 Points

I agree wholeheartedly with Daisy Dodderidge. Was just about to say the same thing.

Posted by lutherjw on September 24, 2009, 02:59 PM report to moderator
2043 Points

see this what happens when you let muggles in to power

Posted by GinnyRose2004 on September 24, 2009, 03:04 PM report to moderator
200 Points

Citizens of the U.S. who would intentionally read a book have long known that the occupant of the White House is merely acting out a role in a much larger disaster. H.G.W. Bush wasn’t a good actor, let alone a connisseur of literature. He couldn’t even create coherent sentences when caught off guard! His opinion, or the opinions of the nearby idiots, are not to be taken seriously…unless their opinion is to send bombs to your country. To whom this crew gives medals is of little concern to me.

Posted by trontech on September 24, 2009, 03:15 PM report to moderator
590 Points

Daisy Dodderidge is right on the money. Is there any corroborating evidence or is it just some snippet of information that this book writer threw out with no proof or context?

If people are going to be upset when other people throw out these ridiculous charges of witchcraft about Harry Potter, then please give the same break to other people when wild or unprovable claims are made, even if you dislike the people in question.

Anybody note the last paragraph where it is noted that the Bushes like the Harry Potter series. Laura Bush’s comments on Harry Potter & her fondness for them is on public record; this author’s claim is just his claim until he presents some credible evidence. So, please don’t get worked up all over this.

Posted by vespasian68967 on September 24, 2009, 03:24 PM report to moderator
139 Points

Wow…we are still blaming George Bush for things? He likely had absolutely nothing to do with this (even if it is true). Not sure I trust someone who can’t even spell “presdient.”

Posted by jfrancis04 on September 24, 2009, 03:29 PM report to moderator
730 Points

If that actually occurred, it’s really sad. From the excerpt, though, it sounds like this Marc Thiessen guy had some childish issues with respect and integrity. I certainly don’t think George W. Bush was a very good President, but I think he’s a very good person and at least some of his problems were rooted in trusting bad people. I know Laura Bush really enjoys reading, especially children’s lit, and I hope that they might have made a different decision had it really been up to them. And while I’d love to see Jo receive every award and honor she possibly can, it’s not like her contributions to the world have gone unnoticed. :)

Posted by RavenclawDancer on September 24, 2009, 03:31 PM report to moderator
385 Points

This is so stupid. It does not encourage witchcraft. It’s a story – not a guidebook. Witchcraft existed long before Harry Potter and if anything; Harry Potter has taught us to love!

Posted by MiliMalfoy [FTC!] on September 24, 2009, 03:34 PM report to moderator
4056 Points

That’s just stupid, weird, absurd…call it anything you like.

Posted by fifi ~::~ ıɟıɟ {WBM!} {ITC!} on September 24, 2009, 03:35 PM report to moderator
292 Points

I would like to see the sources before everyone jumps on the hate Bush wagon. I would think HP fans would be more objective of information that is being soled for a buck. Rita Skeeter anyone?

Posted by Necrotoxin on September 24, 2009, 03:43 PM report to moderator
3048 Points

I strongly doubt that the claims that the author has made in this book are accurate, considering the praise that the Bushes did give the series while they were in the White House. As much glee as we may derive from disparaging the former administration for this purported dismissal and rejection of the series, we must consider the contradictions that would accompany such a gesture. It is obvious to any discerning and rational fan that the Bushes themselves, if this report is true, were not responsible. If anything, it was anxiety of upsetting the fundamentalist Christian base that comprised a substantial basis of the foundation for the support he had in America.

Posted by Kirk on September 24, 2009, 03:44 PM report to moderator
502 Points

Oh, Bush!
How you thrill us.

Posted by Olivia Elaine a.k.a Agent Pomplamoose on September 24, 2009, 03:46 PM report to moderator
133 Points

What a load of tosh !

Posted by azna70 on September 24, 2009, 03:49 PM report to moderator
89 Points

I’m off to listen to “Dear Laura Mallory (or Harry Potter is Satan)” by Peeved!

Posted by palantiriel on September 24, 2009, 04:02 PM report to moderator
507 Points

my dad was the same way ohh about 6 years ago then my mom told him to shut up and let me see the movies and he really liked them

Posted by lilmisssnape on September 24, 2009, 04:06 PM report to moderator
2111 Points

No way! u_u’

Posted by Hepburn on September 24, 2009, 04:08 PM report to moderator
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