Walter Block’s recent thread “I blew my chance to be on the payroll with everyone else!” reminded me of a scene out of the recent Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
The context of the scene is as follows. The wizarding world is in a state of unrest as the evil wizard Lord Voldemort has returned and begun a subversive movement of Death Eaters wreaking havok against the innocent. In the previous book Harry and Voldemort went head to head at the wizarding community’s equivalent of government headquarters (The Ministry of Magic) where a prophecy was revealed which portrayed Harry as “the Chosen One” (the only wizard capable or destined to rid the world of Voldemort). Since such time the Ministry has served almost completely useless at bringing Voldemort or his cohorts to justice. The following excerpt is a conversation between Harry and the Minister of Magic himself (Scrimgeour).Taken from pages 344 – 346, “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.”
“Peple believe you are ‘the Chosen One,’ you see,” said Scrimgeour. “They think you quite the hero – which, of course, you are. Harry, chosen or not! How many times have you faced He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named now? Well, anyway,” he pressed on, without waiting for a reply, “the point is, you are a symbol of hope for many, Harry. The idea that there is somebody out there who might be able, who might even be destined, to destroy He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named – well, naturally, it gives people a lift. And I can’t help but feel that, once you realize this, you might consider it, well, almost a duty, to stand alongside the Ministry, and give everyone a boost.”
“If you were to be seen popping in and out of the Ministry from time to time, for instance, that would give the right impression. And of course, while you were there, you would have ample opportunity to speak to Gawain Robards, my successor as Head of the Auror office. Dolores Umbridge has told me that you cherish an ambition to become an Auror. Well, that could be arranged very easily….”
Harry felt anger bubbling in the pit of his stomach…
“So basically,” he said as though he just wanted to clarify a few points, “you’d like to give the impression that I’m working for the Ministry?”
“It would give everyone a lift to think you were more involved, Harry,” said Scrimgeour, sounding relieved that Harry had cottoned on so quickly. “‘The Chosen One,’ you know…It’s all about giving people hope, the feeling that exciting things are happening….”
“But if I keep running in and out of the Ministry,” said Harry, still endeavoring to keep his voice friendly, “won’t that seem as though I approve of what the Ministry’s up to?”
“Well,” said Scrimgeour, frowning slightly, “well, yes, that’s partly why we’d like-”
“No, I don’t think that’ll work,” said Harry pleasantly. “You see, I don’t like some of the things the Ministry’s doing. Locking up Stan Shunpike, for instance.”
Scrimgeour did not speak for a moment but his expression hardened instantly. “I would not expect you to understand,” he said, and he was not as successful at keeping anger out of his voice as Harry had been. “These are dangerous times, and certain measures need to be taken. You are sixteen years old-”
“Dumbledore’s a lot older than sixteen, and he doesn’t think Stan should be in Azkaban either,” said Harry. “Your making Stan a scapgoat, just like you want to make me a mascot.”
They looked at each other, long and hard. Finally Scrimgeour said, with no pretense at wamth, “I see. You prefer – like your hero, Dumbledore – to disassociate yourself from the Ministry?”
“I don’t want to be used,” said Harry.
“Some would say it’s your duty to be used by the Ministry!”
“Yeah and others might say it’s your duty to check that people really are Death Eaters before you chukc them in prison,” said Harry, his temper rising now. “You’re doing what Barry Crouch did. You never get it right, you people, do you? Either we’ve got Fudge, pretending everything’s lovely while people get murdered right under his nose, or we’ve got you, chucking the wrong people into jail and trying to pretend you’ve fot ‘the Chosen One’ working for you!”