“Harry Potter” is packed with political and social issues, from the Ministry of Magic to the Death Eaters and their support for Voldemort and pureblood wizards. So it’s no surprise that the series’ writer, J.K. Rowling, is often outspoken about her own personal beliefs outside of the wizarding world–most recently, she responded to fan comparisons of Donald Trump to villain Voldemort. From that to her opposing an Israeli cultural boycott and more, here’s a look at Rowling’s political support over the years.
After fans on social media compared Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to murderous villain Voldemort, Rowling chimed in.
“How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near as bad,” she tweeted in response to a BBC headline on the issue.
In “Harry Potter,” Voldemort wanted to cleanse the wizarding world of “half-blood” wizards–even though he was one–and established a Muggle-Born Registration Commission, which would have forced all Muggle-born wizards to register with the government, similar to Trump’s support for a registry of American Muslims and surveillance of mosques. Trump has also called for banning Muslims from entering the country “until our […] representatives can figure out what is going on.”
While Rowling has not directly commented further, she has retweeted a statement from London’s mayor criticizing Trump, calling his statements “ill-informed” and “complete and utter nonsense.”
Israeli cultural boycott
Rowling was one of 150 signatories who expressed opposition for a cultural boycott of Israel proposed earlier this year in an open letter to the Guardian, instead calling for an open dialogue with the country.
“Speaking purely for myself, I have deplored most of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s actions in office,” Rowling said. “However, I do not believe that a cultural boycott will force Mr. Netanyahu from power, nor have I ever heard of a cultural boycott ending a bloody and prolonged conflict. The sharing of art and literature across borders constitutes an immense power for good in this world.”
Her position was met with backlash, which Rowling responded to twice in as many days, including with an essay using “Harry Potter” to revisit the themes in her previous statement about sharing across borders.
“What sits uncomfortably with me is that severing contact with Israel’s cultural and academic community means refusing to engage with some of the Israelis who are most pro-Palestinian, and most critical of Israel’s government,” she said. “Those are voices I’d like to hear amplified, not silenced. A cultural boycott places immovable barriers between artists and academics who want to talk to each other, understand each other and work side-by-side for peace.”
Rowling was also very clear that her opposition to the boycott does not discount the struggles of Palestinians and is not necessarily support for the Israeli government.
“The Palestinian community has suffered untold injustice and brutality. I want to see the Israeli government held to account for that injustice and brutality. Boycotting Israel on every possible front has its allure. It satisfies the human urge to do something, anything, in the face of horrific human suffering.”
Rowling–an Edinburgh resident–was also very outspoken about her opposition to Scottish independence, even donating money to the Better Together campaign.
When explaining her stance on her website, Rowling said that even though the pro-indepence campaign’s “romantic outlook strikes a chord with [her],”there was a “denial of risks.” She elaborated, saying, “The simple truth is that Scotland is subject to the same 21st century pressures as the rest of the world. It must compete in the same global markets, defend itself from the same threats and navigate what still feels like a fragile economic recovery.”
She was also critical of a “fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence.”
British Labour party
Rowling has been a supporter of Britain’s Labour party, the country’s counterpart to America’s Democrats–for whom Rowling has also expressed support. In the past, she’s donated £1 million to the party.
On the flip side, she has also been critical of the Tory party and Prime Minister David Cameron, in particular regarding policies dealing with women and families which seemed to prioritize married couples over single moms, an issue close to Rowling as she herself was once a single mother.
In a statement, Rowling said,
“I believe that poor and vulnerable families will fare much better under the Labour Party than they would under a Cameron-led Conservative Party. Gordon Brown has consistently prioritised and introduced measures that will save as many children as possible from a life lacking in opportunity or choice. The Labour government has reversed the long-term trend in child poverty, and is one of the leading EU countries in combating child poverty. David Cameron’s promise of tax perks for the married, on the other hand, is reminiscent of the Conservative government I experienced as a lone parent. It sends the message that the Conservatives still believe a childless, dual-income, but married couple is more deserving of a financial pat on the head than those struggling, as I once was, to keep their families afloat in difficult times.”
Similarly, Rowling responded to Cameron’s proposal to give married couples £150 by saying, “If Mr Cameron’s only practical advice to women living in poverty, the sole carers of their children, is ‘get married, and we’ll give you £150,’ he reveals himself to be completely ignorant of their true situation.”
When it comes to U.S. politics, Rowling expressed support for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008, saying that either would be an “extraordinary” president.
Rowling may be quite well off thanks to the success of “Harry Potter,” but that wasn’t always so. She’s often spoken of her struggles as a single mother–but she’s also explained how that experience led to her choice not to, say, relocate to a country with a lower tax rate on her earnings.
“I chose to remain a domiciled taxpayer for a couple of reasons. The main one was that I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s; to be citizens, with everything that implies, of a real country, not free-floating ex-pats, living in the limbo of some tax haven and associating only with the children of similarly greedy tax exiles.
A second reason, however, was that I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr. Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism. On the available evidence, I suspect that it is Lord Ashcroft’s idea of being a mug”
Rowling also discussed the issue with Jon Stewart, saying her country helped her.
“There are places in the world where I would have starved,” she said.