Potter disciple Andrew Slack of Somerville wants to channel the forces of good, as identified in the Potter universe, toward north central Africa (among other places) to stop the killing in Sudan. Slack, 27, created the HP Alliance, the real-life equivalent of the Order of the Phoenix, which, for those not versed in the Gospel of Harry, is a squadron of good wizards created by Albus Dumbledore to fight the dark powers of Lord Voldemort.
“It was up to Harry and the young people in Dumbledore’s Army to wake people up to the fact that Voldemort returned,” says Slack, a sketch comedian and occasional substitute teacher at Somerville High School, who conceived of the idea two years ago. “[Now] it’s up to Harry Potter fans, those who wish to learn from Harry and learn from Dumbledore and really be like them . . . to start a real Dumbledore’s Army and wake the world up to something that it’s not doing enough about.”
Slack talks fast and with a purposeful assurance, explaining how he first came to be involved in social activism at Brandeis and missed the advocacy atmosphere of the university when he graduated in 2002. After reading most of the Potter series during a bout with mono, Slack was struck by the socio-political and psychological themes in the books that paralleled those in our own society. He wanted to mobilize Harry Potter fans, and teach them how to apply those parallels in real-world situations — everything from social justice to self-esteem to matters of international concern.
As he re-read the series, Slack saw parallels everywhere: in the pervasive prejudice against non-pureblood wizards, Voldemort’s use of terrorism to rule the wizarding population, and Hermione’s quest to free house elves from slavery. Currently, Alliance’s stated primary goal is to end the genocide in Darfur.
The Sudanese government and Janjaweed militia leaders don’t have to start looking over their shoulders just yet. At the moment, the HP Alliance exists solely online, and its “membership” is equivalent to the number of MySpace friends it has (9852 at press time).
UNITED WE’RE FANS: Members of the Harry Potter Alliance include (clockwise from top) Andrew Slack, Sarah Newberry, Nicole Greenhouse.
But the Alliance is serious about rallying legions of Potter fans to fight evil and injustice around the world.
Its Web site very sweetly and naively, in a treacly, well-meaning ceremony, marries Doug Henning and Madeleine Albright:
Did you ever wish that Harry Potter was real? Well it kind of is. After all, both our worlds face “dark and difficult times”:
Genocide, Poverty, AIDS, and Global Warming are ignored by our media and governments the way Voldemort’s return is ignored by the Ministry and Daily Prophet.
People are still discriminated against based on sexuality, race, class, religion, gender, ethnicity, and religion just as the Wizarding World continues to discriminate against Centaurs, Giants, House Elves, Half-Bloods, Muggle borns, Squibs, and Muggles.
Our governments continue to respond to terror by torturing prisoners (often without trial) just as Sirius Black was tortured by dementors with no trial.
A Muggle Mindset pervades over our culture . . . a mindset that values being “perfectly normal, thank you very much” over being interesting, original, loving, and creative.