"Phoenix," the fifth book in author J. K. Rowlings's series, is by far the most ideological, and seems allusive to post-9/11 politics. Harry knows that the evil Lord Voldemort has been reborn and is building an army, but the wizarding government, the Ministry of Magic, refuses to believe him. At Hogwarts, a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the ministry's Dolores Umbridge, won't teach the students actual defense spells, under the pretense of protecting them. As the world grows more dangerous, and Umbridge restricts more and more of the students' personal freedoms, Harry and his pals form a secret club to teach themselves how to battle Voldemort and his minions. "It's like the French Resistance movement of the 1940s," Heyman says. Which is right up Yates's alley. "There's a really interesting principle at the heart of this story," says Yates, in an exclusive NEWSWEEK interview. "The ministry is this bureaucratic authoritarian regime trying to impose a fundamental doctrine on this liberal wacky school. The ministry isn't very good at accepting the beauty of differences. Everything has to fit in a box, and if it doesn't fit, it must be removed. The wonderful thing this story tells kids is that it's OK to be different."
Except that that's exactly not the point of Order of the Phoenix. The message is more properly understood as: The world is a dangerous place and sometimes, no matter how deep in the sand you try to stick your head, bad people will try to kill you. If you refuse to fight back, you're a willing accomplice to evil. Hogwarts isn't a whacky liberal enclave--it's Sandhurst, where Churchill is teaching a rising generation of warriors how to fight the battle their parents shirked. And the Ministry of Magic isn't John Ashcroft's Justice Department or the Catholic Church or whatever other repressive, patriarchical, neanderthal hive Yates might want to equate it with: It's the frackin' League of Nations.
At least, that's what I took away from Order of the Phoenix. But maybe I'm just a neocon warmonger. Tell me where I'm wrong.