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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to the book's author, Matthew Latimer, J.K. Rowling's name was once in consideration for a presidential medal but was rescinded because the books "encouraged witchcraft."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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2525 Points

OH wow talk about idoits!

Posted by The Nerd on September 24, 2009, 07:38 PM report to moderator
3455 Points

what the heck? okay this is why i didnt like Bush—HE CONTRIDICTED HIMSELF TO MUCH! he and his wife said they liked the books, but wouldnt give Jo an award because he and his administration thought that they promoted witch craft? those to apposing answers totally dont make anysense coming from the same person! and witch craft, realy, seriously, people are so ignorant, i cant even type how that upsets me so much!!!!

Posted by Catherine ( *SQUEE!*) on September 24, 2009, 07:56 PM report to moderator
839 Points

Today my religion teacher was talking about Harry Potter. She talked for about 10 minutes about the religious themes in the books. Anyone who thinks the books encourage withcraft has clearly not read them.

Posted by Hermione Weasley on September 24, 2009, 07:59 PM report to moderator
195 Points

Glad Obama likes HP! or his kids do at least! A girl who used to be in my class wasn’t allowed to read it but i think she watched some of the movies.

Posted by Selgy Gaunt on September 24, 2009, 08:25 PM report to moderator
2027 Points

wait, if bush and his wife liked the books, why didnt it get a medal?

Posted by sunlitdays (ROAR) on September 24, 2009, 08:25 PM report to moderator
1040 Points

@Daisy Dodderidge “Like so many other rumors, this is probably absolute fiction. Just because it is in a book does not make it true. By having this nugget in his book, the author is getting free publicity without having to worry about providing factual evidence. The Bush administration (like every presidency) had enough problems, inventing controversy to sell more books and enrage a fanbase is petty. Bashing Bush has become a popular national pasttime. I think it is time we moved onto more more contructive issues.”

Well said. As HP fans, it’s time we remember to recognize that prejudicial statements go both ways and not all of us are on the same “side” of the political street. Love for HP and the messages in the books transcends politics and petty rhetoric. It should transcend the fandom, as well. Acceptance is supposed to be our watch-word. Let’s treat each other, and all people, gently, regardless of what political party or religion or anything else one is affiliated with. There are good and bad in all groups, and the actions of the few do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or feelings of the rest.

Posted by Headmistress LemonFaerie on September 24, 2009, 08:29 PM report to moderator
22044 Points


3940 Points

gits, bloody gits the whole lot of them

Posted by just another weasley ROAR,OoM2GS on September 24, 2009, 08:38 PM report to moderator
484 Points

“Harry Potter books encourage witchcraft” ? Those who said that never really reads the books, they just judge it base on what they see in the movies.

Posted by EnricoDc on September 24, 2009, 08:50 PM report to moderator
1067 Points

This feels more like a publicity stunt for the book. It’s sad that Leaky posted it. If there were more actual facts about the process of the award and who ACTUALLY decided to turn her down, then I would be interested. This is just confusing and misleading and not worth getting worked up about.

Posted by eiVega on September 24, 2009, 09:06 PM report to moderator
892 Points

All I have to say is ‘Oh god’

Posted by Kara000 ~ROAR~ on September 24, 2009, 09:32 PM report to moderator
385 Points

oh boy lets find another way to attack a man who tried to serve his country in the best way he saw fit. I think Ms. Rowling has many awards and accomplishments so that this would seem quite trivial…oh well

Posted by ProfKnight on September 24, 2009, 09:57 PM report to moderator
407 Points

That is the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a long while. Honestly, what’s wrong with some people?

Posted by Mercy on September 24, 2009, 10:10 PM report to moderator
733 Points

Hey guys, rumor is actually in the title – it’s not posted as a fact. :) The person who wrote it did work in the nucleus of the white house, so whether he’s being truthful or not it’s not a totally un-credible source. Worthy of being reported as a rumor.

Thanks for remaining civil or at least trying to – you’ll notice we went to pains to point out that the Bush administration praised HP in the past.

Thanks guys,

Posted by Melissa Anelli on September 24, 2009, 10:11 PM report to moderator
1070 Points

ditto what mai {beatnik owl} said “that was retarded.”

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