Stewart says the goblins in the film series are so much like Jewish caricatures in a 1903 anti-Semitic book that most people would not be able to see the difference.
While it’s been talked about a bit here and there over the years, Jon Stewart says he has been stunned now for two decades that there wasn’t an immediate outcry upon seeing who runs the banking system in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.
In particular, the imagery of the goblins at Gringotts Bank used in the “Harry Potter” series of films bears to close a resemblance to images in a well-known anti-Semitic book, not to mention generations of anti-Semitic caricatures and cartoons in other media.
Stewart talked about it on the latest episode of his newest podcast, “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” as referenced by Variety. The episode first hit in mid-December, but his “Harry Potter” comments have resurfaced as the film franchise celebrates its 20th anniversary with a new special on HBO Max.
“Here’s how you know Jews are still where they are,” Stewart said in a clip shared to YouTube. He then referenced specifically the caricatures of Jews from the 1903 anti-Semitic book “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and their similarity to the Wizarding World’s bankers.
Stewart suggested that he’s talked to people about the imagery. “I just want to show you a caricature,” he says, referencing the turn of the last century tome. “And they’re like, ‘Oh, look at that, that’s from ‘Harry Potter.’ And you’re like, ‘No, that’s a caricature of a Jew from an anti-Semitic piece of literature.’”
“J.K. Rowling was like, ‘Can we get these guys to run our bank?’” he added.
Stewart went on to marvel that in this world of magic where you “can ride dragons” and have “a pet owl,” When the question came up, “Who should run the bank?” The answer was, “Jews.”
But what was even more remarkable to Stewart was how no one seemed to bat an eye — or at least not in sufficient numbers to make any notable noise in the public sphere.
“It was one of those things where I saw it on the screen and I was expecting the crowd to be like, ‘Holy s—, she did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the f—— underground bank,” Stewart said, ultimately marveling at the lack of outcry over what he sees as obvious caricatures perpetuating negative stereotypes.
“Everybody was just like, ‘Wizards,” he said of the nonplussed reaction. “It was so weird. Even Dobby was like, ‘That’s f—– up. Those are Jews.'”
While the Wizarding World has not come under scrutiny for its goblins, Rowling herself has taken a lot of heat for her anti-transgender views, specifically those that have labeled her a TERF, or a feminist who excludes transgender women from their fight for women’s rights.
Rowling was notably absent from HBO Max’s “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts” special, which dropped on January 1, save for archival interview footage from several years ago (i.e., before she started saying and writing anti-trans things).
Gringotts’ goblins, however, were featured in a scene where Daniel Radcliffe and Helena Bonham Carter found the animatronic puppets still sitting beneath their windows … and were a little creeped out by them. But not for the same reason Stewart was.
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