It strikes me that there is something very significant in that particular reaction to the denouement of the series, because it reflects a particularly 21st century/post-9/11 kind of mindset: the idea that something of value can be achieved without sacrifice or burden or loss.
One of the important themes of the Harry Potter books is that it is important to do what is right, instead of what is easy. Sometimes even, the ultimate sacrifice must be made--that is, if you are truly willing to stand up and defend that which is right and good and decent in the world. And, it is that very truth which in the end destroys evil, because evil simply cannot stand against this kind of deep magic.
It is also interesting that the evil we confront in our day and age has even managed to pervert the kind of sacrifice which is made out of love to save lives--specifically by creating the horrific abomination they call a "martyr", and which is in reality nothing more than a brainwashed human bomb, determined to kill and be killed.
I love to read fantasies as much as anyone, but you can easily get lulled into thinking that, in the end, everything will come out ok and none of the good guys will get hurt or have to suffer unduly when they battle evil. In the real world, though, it is more often the case that the good and virtuous whose cause is just will not always win the battle, or even the war.
They especially are not likely to win it if they do not accept that there is a cost that must be paid--in lives and treasure--to secure the blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for one's self and one's posterity.
Those who believe such values are theirs by right and are maintained for free, often show a correspondingly condescending sense of superiority along with an extremely narcissistic entitlement . They have forgotten--if they ever knew at all--how those precious freedoms and the human values on which they are based ever came to be the legacy of America.
Suffice it to say that, "Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." (see Mudville Gazette).
Like Harry Potter and his friends in their magical world, we are today fighing a ruthless enemy whose nihilism and fanaticism seems to know no bounds. They are clearly willing to sacrifice their lives for the values of enslavement, submission and death. And their brilliance lies in their ability to present to us a difficult conundrum that we must solve--a conundrum that is not that much different than that which is presented by any of the Voldemorts, Saurons or other "dark lords" of literature.
I wrote about this very problem in a post called "The Brilliance of the New Barbarians" exactly a year ago, and some of what I said then is applicable here.
In a comment on this thread at The Belmont Club, Wretchard noted:
The brilliance of the new barbarism is that you cannot fight it without destroying your own value system into the bargain.
Traditionally the solution has been to consider wartime a discontinuity, when civilization's rules are suspended. It becomes possible, for example, to lay waste to the Monte Cassino Abbey. Berlin was bombed without regard for its buildings, churches or people.
The alternative is to create methods of fighting so discriminating that we can literally shoot between the raindrops. But that creates a different problem, for we will need an intelligence system so comprehensive that it will become intrusive.
Either way, the war cannot be won without cost. And the fundamental fraud foisted on the public is to claim we can have war without horror, conduct an intelligence war without dishonesty and cunning and obtain victory without sacrifice.
I remain confident that we are not about to lose the values we hold dear and which define the American soul because we must fight the enemy on a playing field of his choosing. But we are losing our moral heading nevertheless. Not, as the political left would insist as they keep harping on the so-called "atrocities" they accuse our own soldiers of regularly committing (and which in many cases are grossly overblown and exaggerated, if they have any truth to them at all) ; but because of the frightened unwillingness to express the same level of outrage at the unbelievable atrocities that the enemy commits on a daily basis.
In order to combat and defeat this new barbarism, we must first confront it for the evil it is and be willing to do whatever it takes to defeat it. We are not perfect, and the more we demand such perfection of ourselves, the more we flounder in a quagmire of moral uncertainty and paralysis.
If we appease or ignore the evil; if we pretend that it doesn't exist; or if we can only see it in our own imperfect behavior; then it will continue to menace everything we hold dear; and sooner or later, it will defeat us--no matter how perfectly moral we are or how much restraint we demonstrate in response to the enemy's provocations. Self-flagellation and righteous restraint will not win this conflict. We must be sure in our own hearts and minds of the endurance and worth of our own values in order to do what is necessary to defeat evil. And we must be willing to do it in spite of our own human imperfections.
Our ambivalence toward the worth of our own values is what is dragging us down in this conflict. Value by value we are giving ground to the enemy whose only desire is to destroy our way of life and supress the very freedoms they use to subvert it. All we have to do is look around and see how willing most of the Democratic presidential candidates were to suck up to those who plot to destroy America; and then witness the adulation and praise they received when they expressed their desire to appease and submit to the new barbarians in the name of "peace".
Well, why not? Isn't peace the goal?
Remember how quickly the Western leaders were willing to compromise freedom of speech in the Danish cartoon matter in order to accommodate the enemy's threats? Consider how many other accommodations many of us are willing--and eager--to make to ensure the Death-Eaters of our own world won't get angry or upset with us over anything.
And we can't even criticize their insane religion/ideology of death without having the priests of multicultural nihilism swoop down upon us. Very soon, we will have compromised away all that matters to us for the sake of "peace" (but which is really a sort of voluntary enslavement enforced via a societal suicide pact); and in the end, we will no longer have either our precious freedom, nor will we have peace.
If we continue on the path of appeasement we will be defeated by the enemy's unrepentant ruthlessness and their endless love of death. Thomas Sowell once remarked that, "If the battle for civilization comes down to the wimps versus the barbarians, the barbarians are going to win", and he is most certainly correct.
The cost of this war will ultimately be more than all the lives lost; it will also be for the humanity and civilization we must temporarily abandon to win.
When we are finally cornered and must allow our own barbarism to surface to combat theirs head to head, then we must be prepared to live with the consequences, including the agonizing guilt that will ensue--or everything we hold dear, everything we aspire to become, will forever perish from this earth.
This reality is what I hate and despise most about these Islamic fanatics we are fighting--who do not let reason or life interfere with their jihad; who abide by no treaties, follow no rules, and scorn the very values upon which Western civilization is founded. We could have lived with them they did not insist that we must become what they are or die. But it is they who have defined the ground rules (or the non-rules) of this conflict; and it is they who have set the playing field; and eventually, we will have to meet them at their level--or they will win.
One of the oh so brave leaders of the new barbarians, Ayman al-Zawahri, has said the following while hiding out in his cave:
"...al-Qaida now views "all the world as a battlefield open in front of us."
The Egyptian-born physician said that the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah and Palestinian militants would not be ended with "cease-fires or agreements."
"It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," al-Zawahri said. "We will attack everywhere."
So, what should civilization's response be? Should we pretend we don't hear him? That his forces in Iraq aren't really there because "Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror"? Or, shall we fantasize, like so many on the left seem happy to do, that Zawahiri doesn't really mean it? And, even if he did, what harm can he really do?
Even if you hate the idea of violence and death --and what sane and rational person doesn't?-- isn't it time to get really serious about the danger? If a few barbarians with boxcutters on an airplane can kill 3,000 people at a time; what do you imagine will happen if these same barbarians get hold of a nuclear weapon?
In a post titled "WE HAVE MOVED INTO A TIME BEYOND HUMAN WISDOM", I discuss a disturbingly painful conversation between Blackfive and "a peaceful, gentle soul" that begins:
You are not going to like this.
On the demonstrable virtues of not caring if children die, on hardening your mind for war, and other things we can no longer avoid discussing.
Beware that you are ready before you pass this seal.
Let us begin with a debate between a peaceful, gentle soul, and me. The topic could be Israel's war, or ours in Iraq, or -- if they have the heart for it -- the one to come.
You must read the entire conversation because it is the clearest explanation I have ever seen that makes me understand why I hate and despise these islamofascist barbarians so much: they have deliberately brought civilization to a "time beyond human wisdom."
In doing so, they have brought about a deadly paralysis in Western civilization. Sometimes it seems to me that we have been attacked and stabbed in the heart by Tolkien's Shelob; and bound and wrapped in her web, we wait, unmoving and barely conscious, to be eaten at her whim.
Blackfive concluded his post with this:
"It cannot be," I must say. "Love should always rise, above war and fear and death. Love should always be first, and not last, in our hearts. It should never be that love brings wrong, and disdain brings right.
"And yet," I say, "It is. I have shown you that it is. That means we have moved into a time beyond human wisdom. We can no longer know the right. It is beyond us.
"We can only do," I must warn her, and you. "We can only do, and pray, that when we are done we may be forgiven."
We cannot achieve victory against these 21st century barbarians without great cost--in lives and in treasure; and it may be that the biggest cost will be the toll it will take on the very soul of those of us who stand for civilization and decency. Wartime has always been a time of painful discontinuity--a time where in order to achieve peace, we must fight; and in order to preserve life, we must kill.
We must face this unpleasant reality without flinching; because our children and those who come after us depend on us to preserve the fragile and precious legacy of freedom that our own forefathers died to give to us.
President Lincoln understood the sacrifice and pain it requires: "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. "
It must not be our generation that allows it to perish.