Jon Stewart Slams JK Rowling For Using 'Antisemitic' Caricatures As Goblin Bankers In 'Harry Potter'
Jon Stewart blasted J.K. Rowling for using "antisemitic" caricatures and tropes in the goblin banker characters in her Harry Potter books and movies.
Stewart made the comments on his podcast The Problem with Jon Stewart. He contended Rowling used inspiration from the antisemitic book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to create the goblins who run the Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
"Here's how you know Jews are still where they are."
Rafael Shimunov—an activist and artist—shared a clip from Stewart's podcast on Twitter.
So @jonstewart recently broke Hollywood's complete silence on @jk_rowling unapologetically maintaining antisemitic folklore through Harry Potter.pic.twitter.com/ezWrxpzryB— raf (@raf) 1641172051
Stewart added how rare it is to find a Harry Potter fan who notices the antisemitic caricatures.
I find it interesting that Jon Stewart, who is Jewish, is being treated like he has no experience of antisemitism because he criticised JK Rowling, who is not Jewish, using antisemitic tropes in her work. By interesting, I mean frustrating.— Mixter Alex (@Mixter Alex) 1641389398
"I just want to show you a caricature."
"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 antisemitic piece of literature'."
"J.K. Rowling was like, 'Can we get these guys to run our bank?'"
Stewart also recalled the moment he saw Gringotts goblins in the theater.
"It was one of those things where I saw it on the screen and I was expecting the crowd to be like, 'Holy sh*t! She did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the f*cking underground bank.'"
"And everybody was just like, 'Wizards.' It was so weird."
Stewart however did not call Rowling antisemitic which many people made clear.
It is important to highlight the fact that at no point in the clip does Jon Stewart accuse JK Rowling of being antisemitic\n\nHe only suggests the depiction of the Harry Potter bankers is an antisemitic trope reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion\n\n@LBC @mrjamesobhttps://twitter.com/ImIncorrigible/status/1478660166878998529\u00a0\u2026— Incorrigible FCA (@Incorrigible FCA) 1641386138
In the books and the movies, the goblins are depicted as being "short and fair-skinned, as they spent very little time outside. They had very long fingers and feet, dome-shaped heads and were slightly larger than house-elves."
They were also said to be very good with money and finances and controlled the wizarding world's banking system. They were also described as "secretive, cunning, and having a different perception of wealth and ownership than humans."
Shimunov pointed out he called out Rowling in 2018 for the "side locks" on some of the goblins and 6 pointed stars around the bank resembling the "Jewish star."
The scene Jon Stewart is referencing was shared by me in 2018, when Rowling was smearing the left as antisemites and only beginning to embrace her infamous anti trans views. Harry walks over a bank adorned with Jewish Stars, to greedy Goblins side locks.pic.twitter.com/fZHMHf85h7— raf (@raf) 1641172195
Shimunov added antisemites had no trouble recognizing the referenced stereotypes and cultural symbols.
If you'd like to see how Youtube users respond to clips of JK Rowling's bank scenes, they're dominated by antisemites lavishing praise on JK Rowling.pic.twitter.com/4w7Nw00raC— raf (@raf) 1641172368
He added more context as well.
In total fairness, goblin mythology as antisemitic tropes predates all of us, including JK Rowling. But across Harry Potter novels, JK uses her freedom to reinvent almost anything. But as Jon Stewart points out, the antisemitic tropes maintained.— raf (@raf) 1641172479
JK Rowling is definitely anti trans and a hateful, petty person. As far as I know, she's not an antisemite. However, this was perpetuating antisemitism, and she did so while attacking others as antisemites on our behalf while demonstrating zero knowledge of it.— raf (@raf) 1641172884
It's true that most writers aren't influential on sets of movies. But JK's a screenwriter + billionaire who was present and able to force studios to keep scenes she chose. Protective of every detail. Even in her spinoff, her contract gives her unprecedented powers as a writer.— raf (@raf) 1641274333
He also responded to the pushback from Rowling's defenders.
Yet this isn\u2019t a thread full of death threats not even one and it\u2019s been enitelry fact based and cited apart from the person who just said it\u2019s out of context without any evidence. If not intended, great. Fix it or discuss it rather than hide from it and perpetuate it.— raf (@raf) 1641219051
As Shimunov pointed out, Stewart is not the first to point out antisemitism and racist stereotypes in Rowling's works.
Asian, Black and Indigenous North Americans took exception to Rowling's depiction of their communities and cultures when her books and films first gained attention.
I'm here for JK Rowling slander, if you dislike her watch this you won't regret itpic.twitter.com/SdBV3fzQnQ— thr4sher (@thr4sher) 1641117951
JK Rowling is well known for her transphobia at this point but Jon Stewart did an excellent job of pointing out a pretty obvious problem with the original Harry Potter series: the anti-Semitismpic.twitter.com/QWhNDst1SY— The Serfs (@The Serfs) 1641316998
We need jk Rowling behind bars bro what the fuck pic.twitter.com/XfZGLSuXFG— OUFZ | Dan \ud83d\udc22 (@OUFZ | Dan \ud83d\udc22) 1641258528
Every single non-white non-British character has a cartoonishly stereotypical name - Cho Chang, Seamus Finnigan, Viktor Krum, Fleur Delacour— ben (@ben) 1641147813
i adore harry potter but the names are so stereotypical because jk rowling as well as being transphobic and racist is fucking stupidhttps://twitter.com/appuntito160/status/1477728508239441921\u00a0\u2026— vic ! THROWBACK LAYOUT || 142 \ud83c\udf3c (@vic ! THROWBACK LAYOUT || 142 \ud83c\udf3c) 1641201024
Spare a thought for JK Rowling's editor who had to sit there and patiently explain why names like Gianluigi Parmasan and Juan Sombrero should be reconsidered.— Jack (@Jack) 1641246098
Dahl was racist, mysogynistic and fatphobic too. It's just as evident in his writing. The real answer is, he died in 1990 and doesn't have access to Twitter so adult fans aren't being fed his beliefs the way JK Rowling uses her Twitter platform— Chloe G (@Chloe G) 1641227758
Sooooo JK Rowling is racist too. . .https://twitter.com/vanillaopinions/status/1477844348742086657\u00a0\u2026— Sora Blackheart (@Sora Blackheart) 1641257688
jk rowling's books are full of anti-semitic & racist tropes, people are just noticing them now because jk rowling uses libel law suits to silence her critics so people are afraid of speaking out against her— saeen (@saeen) 1641310620
jk rowling is racist lul she named her only asian character literally cho chang— :( \ud83d\udc31\u26a2\ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\ud83c\udf08 (@:( \ud83d\udc31\u26a2\ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\ud83c\udf08) 1641385557
Some people say JK Rowling is a TERF, but in the interest of addressing both sides, it's important to point out she's also a racist— Spironolactone Agnew (@Spironolactone Agnew) 1641172604
The only Harry Potter character that\u2019s Asian is named Cho Chang ain\u2019t no way JK Rowling isn\u2019t racisthttps://twitter.com/felipetmedinaa/status/1477425075364282368\u00a0\u2026— FIREPROOF (@FIREPROOF) 1641123073
As many pointed out, people of color raised objections to Rowling's use of racist stereotypes when her novels and world building was first published and publicized.
Vile woman, glad others are now realising this:\n#JKRowling under fire for using racist Native American stereotypeshttp://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/mar/09/jk-rowling-under-fire-for-appropriating-navajo-tradition-history-of-magic-in-north-america-pottermore\u00a0\u2026— Look Aboot Ye (@Look Aboot Ye) 1457613804
because @jk_rowling has based her "native wizards" off the same racist stereotypes & miseducation that JM Barrie used in Peter Pan.— Johnnie Jae aka The Brown Ball of Fury (@Johnnie Jae aka The Brown Ball of Fury) 1457465455
LRT: regular people are finding out JK Rowling is racist and has horribly racist characterizations in her books, and I'm glad they're finally taking notice.\n\nI'm sad it took them so long, given the imagery related to the banking system in her world, but I'm glad they're here— 972 Catgirls singing 'Padoru~!' in a trenchcoat (@972 Catgirls singing 'Padoru~!' in a trenchcoat) 1641312602
JK Rowling: casually racist even in her world building.https://twitter.com/TerribleMaps/status/1234558864575602688\u00a0\u2026— MILF's Acid Arrow (@MILF's Acid Arrow) 1641318396
Black people: JK Rowling is racist\nJewish people: JK Rowling is racist\nAsian people: JK Rowling is a racist\nNative people: JK Rowling is a racist\n\npublic:\n\nJK Rowling: makes her awful views unrefutable with transphobic post\n\npublic: WE COULD HAVE NEVER SEEN IT COMING!!!— aoyama stan (crying) (@aoyama stan (crying)) 1576941229
While the recent HBO Max 20th anniversary reunion of stars from the Harry Potter films proved people still love the main characters and actors, the author and the rest of her imagined worlds and her real world opinions are being increasingly flagged as problematic.
What effect this has on the longterm legacy of Harry Potter remains to be seen.