Harry Potter has fascinated me in ways few other fantasy novels have and not only because it gives me more street cred than Game of Thrones fans (yeah, I’m calling you nerds out).
The difficulty with the Harry Potter novels and films is of the two essential conflicts that exist in the universe, one slowly begins to fade. The conflict between Harry Potter and Voldeysnorts is always at the fore, but the conflict between the wizarding and Muggle worlds seems to disapperate.
In the first two books, the imperative of the wizarding world seems to be keeping their society a secret from the evil, regular human beings that they see as a threat. “If they found us out, who knows what could happen” seems to be the sentiment of many wizards, and some go to extreme lengths to uphold this hidden society by yelling at kids.
It’s some pretty serious stuff to use magic on a normal human being, and the books and films are rife with examples of wizard on Muggle shenanigans. For instance, in the third book The Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter starts off the book by blowing up his aunt like a balloon with the inherent magic that exists within him.
From what we know, examples of young wizards using their magic uncontrollably and with violent results are quite prevalent, but these wizards can’t be held accountable for something they can’t control. Percival Dumbledore, however, killed three Muggle boys after they beat and traumatized his daughter Ariana.
Understandable, maybe? Punishable by a life-time sentence to Azkaban? Certainly.
The point of this example being, wizards will do anything (especially imprisoning wizards) to help protect the secrecy of their world. But why?
Since 1692, wizards and witches have been in hiding.
Using things such as concealment charms or spells that erase the memories of mere mortals, wizards have been able to keep their world hidden from our own for well over 300 years. Witches and wizards have also been able to integrate into our society resulting in an entirely new generations of half-blood wizards that have both magic and… non-magic abilities like knowing how to use cellphones.
Anyway, there are laws that bind wizarding societies to use almost any measure to ensure the continued secrecy of magic.
“Each wizarding governing body will be responsible for the concealment, care and control of all magical beasts, beings, and spirits dwelling within its territory’s borders. Should any such creature cause harm to, or draw the notice of, the Muggle community, that nation’s wizarding governing body will be subject to discipline by the International Confederation of Wizards.” — Clause 73 of International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy
The secrecy of their society is warranted due to the persecution of wizards and witches, but also for the protection of people like Wendelin the Weird (and vice versa).
Wendelin lived far before the creation of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, but if born today she would quickly find feet being put to the coals in a wizard-style interrogation, though that seems to be what she enjoyed. Wendelin made a point of being captured by witch-hunters… a total of 47 different times and, I assume, burned at the stake that many times as well.
According to some sources (the Harry Potter Wiki), she would use a Flame-Freezing Charm that would make the flames tickle and not burn her alive. How she managed to get over the carbon-monoxide poisoning that actually killed those burned at the stake is not known.
There are other examples of famous wizard deaths include the almost-beheading of Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, also known as Nearly-Headless Nick, for using a teeth-straightening spell on Lady Grieve that backfired giving her tusks. Another example is Lisette de Lapin who was sentenced to death, but escaped just before her execution.
So on one hand, we have wizards like Percival Dumbledore who killed Muggles, Wendelin the Weird who taunted Muggles, and Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington who was used by Muggles, but killed on a whim if they made a mistake. Save for the fact that we now have three hands, these are three examples of why the wizarding world chooses to stay secret.
It’s for their safety, it’s for our safety, and it’s to protect Muggles and wizards using one another.
So that’s pretty much why the secrecy laws exist, but what other country on this planet do we actually not know about? Imagine an entire society of people who were somehow invisible, somehow able to conceal everything about themselves from the public. Imagine what would happen if we found them.
We Found ‘Em!
After escaping the wizard memory-erasing corps, the Wizarding-world’s equivalent of Edaward Snowden makes it to the Guardian and spills the magic beans. Wizards exist and he has the magic wand, the magic broom, and now video evidence on YouTube to prove that magic is real.
So, what happens next?
Without the ability to erase the memories of every single person who have seen the evidence, the wizarding community will either have to accept that they are outed or fight the public’s gaze and continue to hide in anonymity. Either way, questions are going to be asked and their world is going to be exposed.
How do you think the public would react when they find out wizards have an elixer that can extend you life by hundreds or years and magic broom sticks that you can fly around willy-nilly.
The entire scientific world would explode realizing that by using a wand, witches and wizards can do anything and defy reality. While there would be a whole bunch of great things that would make our lives a lot easier, wizards also have a bunch of spells and things that would make everyone’s lives a lot harder.
For instance, wizards have a spell that can kill a person at any distance that leaves no evidence or any way to trace who cast the spell save being able to recall the spell from the wizard’s wand, an innocuous stick. Wizards also have invisibility cloaks and even if they aren’t perfect like the one owned by Harry Potter, they can still be used by anyone to hide themselves from sight. Wizards also have polyjuice potion that can change their appearance into anyone including Barack Obama. Also, on top of all of that, wizards have brooms that they can fly anywhere.
So, we could have invisible, flying, death-spell shooting Barack Obamas killing Muggles all of the time. They would be the perfect assassins and speaking of world leaders, did you know the Prime Minister of England knew about Hogwarts?
In the Deathly Hallows, Cornelius Fudge and Rufus Scrimgeour confront the Muggle Prime Minister to tell him about the goings on in the wizarding world. At first, he can’t believe that Fudge is back and he also can’t believe that something horrible is going on with these wizards and that his government is completely unable to do anything about it.
Think about it, England is one of Earth’s militarily advanced societies and some wizards in frilly cloaks are telling their entire society not to worry when a bridge collapses killing just a few of their citizens.
Now imagine Barack Obama, or I guess Bill Clinton as Harry Potter takes place primarily in the 90s, being told not to worry about the safety of their citizens when magic bullets are flying through the air and monsters that are breeding in the atmosphere and feeding on the sadness of your people. Could you imagine the shitstorm when Edward Snowden releases a document detailing that these world leaders know about all of these magically good and magically bad things happening right under our noses?
Not to mention that the Muggle Prime Minister actually has a wizard-in-hiding protecting him night and day, making him complicit in hiding the world’s wizarding communities and an active part in denying the true reason for the deaths of those who died in that bridge collapse. There would be a world-wide reconciliation about the existence of magic that would end ultimately in the exposure of the wizarding world and its destruction.
Do you know what humans hate more than anything? People who are better than us.
Wizards are not only different than us, they’re vastly superior to regular human beings in almost every way possible. Using a spell, a wizard could automatically harvest an entire field of crops making a farmer useless. Using a spell, a wizard could kill you leaving no trace of who dunnit. Using spells, a wizard could outdo, outperform, and outwit any Muggle in existence.
Think about it, they’re better than us in every way possible meaning they would either have to be controlled by the Muggle masses or be killed along with all of the “Others” in society who threaten the status quo. Do you really think wizards and witches would be able to live among us?
Well, for the most part wizards have been able to integrate themselves into society pretty smoothly with Muggle-born wizards slowly starting to creep into wizard schools. For some, however, the revelation that your loved one is actually magic is kind of a scary revelation. For instance, remember that time our pet dog was hit by a car? Could you have saved it? Could you have breathed life back into the dog? How could you be using the magic you aren’t allowed to use to make our life better? A long-winded question, but a valid one.
There’s almost too much reason here for not the cooperation between Muggles and wizards, but an all out witch-hunt that would take place taking all people with magic abilities and either using them in scientific tests to weaponize them. It would be madness, which is more of a commentary on the human condition than wizards being unjustly afraid of Muggles. Most would probably figure, well why are they hiding, or what do they have to hide?
It’s no surprise that wizards choose to keep their world a secret from ours, but so much could be accomplished if the two sides could work together. For instance, what if St. Mungo’s needed a cure for something and a Muggle researcher could find a cure? Aside form being paid in Galleons, the doctor would probably be happy to help others even if they are magic. Would that doctor need to have his memory wiped? That’s a question the wizarding community would need to ask if they want to make their eventual outing easier.