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Strawman Has A Point / Harry Potter

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Several strawmen in Harry Potter make pretty good points.


  • Anti-werewolf prejudice in the series is treated as cruel, misguided, and irrational: the creation of werewolf watchlists, the poverty that most werewolves live in due to nobody being willing to hire them (legitimate businesses who are willing to hire them have to keep their status as a closely-guarded secret), and school curriculum treats them as dark creatures to learn how to battle. However, the only remotely sympathetic werewolf in the series who's ever even mentioned is Remus Lupin. Meanwhile, Fenrir Greyback, the most famous and influential member of the werewolf community, is a psychotic cannibal who deliberately targets children to forcibly turn them into werewolves, which is how Lupin became one in the first place. It's noted that most of the werewolves sided with Voldemort—ironically, this means the same people who so disliked werewolf discrimination were probably killing them in battle or sending them to prison by the hundreds at the end of the series. While a lot of issues originated from the aforementioned prejudice, no one ever actually suggests a reasonable way of dealing with the core problem of being around werewolves: even a kind and gentle werewolf is extremely dangerous when transformed, likely to kill or turn anyone they come across until they return to their human form again. The only existing means of preventing the transformation is a potion that must be taken regularly, is both expensive and time consuming to produce, and requires a very skilled potion maker to create (and any mistake will instead render the potion poisonous). Treating them as second class citizens may be unfair, but without a better solution it does make a good deal of sense that people are inclined to avoid werewolves and want to learn how to defend themselves from a fully-transformed werewolf in case they find themselves in that situation.
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  • Argus Filch's complaints about students making his job harder are treated as an extension of his surly, bitter personality. But his stance isn't quite as unreasonable as the narrative makes it seem: while his ideas on how to deal with messy students would be textbook Disproportionate Retribution, it's not hard to see where he's coming from. Having to clean up after an entire boarding school's worth of students essentially by oneself is a tall order, especially for a squib at Hogwarts, so it's fairly easy to sympathize with him not wanting extra work that could be avoided if the students were a bit more careful. That being said, the story is from the point of view of one of the students, so it's perhaps unsurprising it's not more empathetic.
  • Hermione and her whole SPEW campaign in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is meant to come off as an annoying White Mans Burden-esque movement led by a Soapbox Sadie because she's applying her understanding of the muggle world to a magical issue she doesn't understand, as while some House Elves do want to be free and paid, most think this is ridiculous, and virtually all of them (even the ones who want freedom and payment) find the idea of not serving wizards abhorrent.note  The Hogwarts House Elves are also offended when Hermione leaves hidden hats and socks around the Gryffindor common room as a means of tricking them into freedom because it doesn't give them a choice on whether or not they actually want to stop working at Hogwarts. However, Hermione does make some very good points during her campaign; for example, she comes up with the possibility that House Elves are mentally conditioned to like being enslaved, something that has happened to many real-life slaves. For this idea to have basis in fact, consider how House Elves seem to be psychologically (or even magically) conditioned to physically punish themselves severely if they fail a task or disobey their masters. Hermione also believes that even if the majority of the House Elves do like the status quo, there should be laws that protect them from being mistreated and abused by the people they serve, and the House Elves who do want freedom and payment, such as Dobby, should have the right to pursue it. It's very likely the reader will mostly agree with Hermione, especially because no other character in the books has any good arguments against her points.note 
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  • Zacharias Smith is skeptical about Harry's version of events after Goblet of Fire and is portrayed as a jerkass for not immediately believing Harry. But he doesn't have the privileged viewpoint of the readership, and Harry has been very close-mouthed about what happened, meaning that Zacharias doesn't have any proof or reasons to believe Harry.note  Later books show him to be an asshole for other reasons, such as providing a more biased commentary for a Quidditch match than even Lee Jordan and being the first to bail at the Battle of Hogwarts, but that doesn't automatically invalidate his reasons to be skeptical of Harry, particularly since the Ministry of Magic was also running a very effective disinformation campaign, and he certainly wasn't the skeptic.
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  • Fudge, the Minister of Magic, claims in the fifth book that the Ministry needs to interfere with Hogwarts in order to fix various problems with the way the school is run. While his methods and motivations mostly make things much worse, the good characters always treat any interference in the way Hogwarts is run as something inherently problematic. This is despite the fact that the school in question has suffered several attacks and disasters that have targeted and harmed its students since Harry enrolled, plus the numerous day to day problems like the alarming lack of safety standards throughout the school which alone should have it shut down, plus the numerous blatantly unqualified and/or problematic teachers on staff (e.g. Binns, Trelawney, and Snape). Not to mention that the incident that started the Ministry interference was a student being murdered on school grounds, during a school-sponsored event. In Real Life, we would absolutely expect increased government or law enforcement involvement in said school. It's pretty hard to argue that the autonomy and total lack of external oversight at Hogwarts previously was actually a good thing, as any reasonable government would have stepped in long ago.
  • Order of the Phoenix plays Harry's feeling that Adults Are Useless very straight, with Dumbledore admitting at the end that he shouldn't have kept secrets from him all the time and that it made things a whole lot worse. The thing is, even leaving aside Voldemort's scar-hotline, Harry is highly hot-tempered, doesn't show any control over his emotions, repeatedly ignores warnings from people he respects (such as McGonagall who politely tries to warn him about Umbridge), has a huge martyr complex that repeatedly causes him to unnecessarily endanger himself, then openly gets goaded in front of all of Hogwarts to punch an opponent on the Quidditch pitch. In real life, anyone with Harry's form of temperament would not be considered a trusted member of any team or organization. Besides, Dumbledore is running a secret resistance group against an enemy with greater numbers and resources while also keeping it on the down-low from the corrupt government. In this kind of situation, keeping people on a need-to-know basis is standard operation procedure, especially when the series takes place in a world where telepathy, Mind Control spells, and truth potions exist, making it easy for enemies to discover the opposing sides' secrets if they get their hands on the right person. Harry's actions in the climax also don't really help his case at all. He slips Snape a coded message that Sirius is in danger, gets exasperated when Snape pretends not to understand because there are several enemy agents in the room at the time, and then goes off to sneak into the Ministry and confront Voldemort and his followers with nothing more than half a dozen barely-trained teenagers backing him up. It's only thanks to Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix's intervention and phenomenal amounts of luck that the situation doesn't end up with Harry and his friends dead or worse, and the incident results in Sirius getting killed. As a result, one can easily see why Dumbledore doesn't let Harry in on more.
  • The fifth book has Harry end up snapping at Ron and Hermione for constantly bickering, telling them to give it a rest already. He's supposed to be seen as being snippy and mean towards his best friends, but he brings up a very valid point: they are always arguing with each other. And have been for the past four years, since becoming friends. No matter how good a friend one is to the other, Harry has every right to get sick and tired of them fighting. Especially since he often bears the consequence of being stuck in the middle of it, as seen repeatedly throughout the series.
  • When giving his New Era Speech when he thinks he's won in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort sets fire to the Sorting Hat and announces that from then on all Hogwarts students will be in Slytherin. The idea that he's picturing is unquestionably horrifying, but he does, however inadvertently, point out a genuine problem — that the house system is divisive and tribalistic, serves no point except to perpetuate the founders' disagreement over who should be accepted into Hogwarts, and even the Sorting Hat, whose exists solely to assign new students to the houses, thinks the current system does a lot more harm than good and there needs to be greater unity. Just a few chapters prior, we learned about how House divisions resulted in Snape and Lily being broken up and the former falling in with a hate group, and Dumbledore mused that "perhaps we Sort too soon", indicating that he believes the House system caused much of the problems that had existed in the series. Putting everyone in one house could hardly make things worse, and in fact, it could actually improve school unity because there's not something trivial dividing the student body. And yet in the epilogue and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we learn that the House system and all of the tribalistic divisions that it brings forth continues, with no apparent changes whatsoever.
  • In the final duel between Voldemort and Harry, Voldemort claims that Snape just desired Lily Potter (nee Evans), which Harry "corrects" by saying it was love. This is supposed to be one final demonstration that the Dark Lord doesn’t understand love; however, Voldemort's declaration comes across as more accurate, especially to the readers who started the series after the books were written. Snape's attitude to Lily comes across less like genuine love and much more as Entitled to Have You: he never respects Lily's consent, never acknowledges that she fell in love with another man, and still calls her "Lily Evans" even after she willingly married James, adopted his family name, and had a child with him. Even worse, he tears up a Potter family photo that Lily herself was proud to share with Sirius just so he could have one picture of Lily, an incident that happened after the events of Book 6. This suggests that even after his Redemption Quest, he still believed that Stalking Is Love and he seemingly went to his grave refusing to deal with his failure to win Lily's love in a mature and responsible manner. Meanwhile, the book, via Harry, bends over backward to tell us that this guy is "the bravest man I ever knew".
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