I was in 7th grade when September 11 happened. On September 12, the boy who had sat in front of me in Language Arts for the past two years, turned around in his seat and asked me with a smirk if I was an Afghani spy. I knew, little genius that I was, that 12-year-old boys are not exactly the brightest bulbs in the room. I didn’t take him seriously. But it did appall me a little how easily the taunting question came out of his mouth, how smoothly he took my background and made it the same as a murderer’s.
There are two things that define my generation: September 11 and Harry Potter. Fittingly, when a variety of newspapers reported late Sunday night that President Obama was going to officially announce that Osama bin Laden is dead, more than a few tweets and updates that filled my news feed were about Osama and Voldemort, Osama and horcruxes, Osama and Death Eaters. To say that these two topics define myself and my peers would be an understatement. Also, we are pretty nerdy.
Though right now, it may feel like we are at the end of our own series of Harry Potter where Voldemort is destroyed, I am afraid that we have only destroyed a horcrux, an offshoot of the real enemy. We may have come away from this war with the body of Osama, but we have yet to conquer the being that Osama came from, ignorance.
Voldemort had only seven horcruxes; seven things that carried his essence. Ignorance, however, has hundreds of horcruxes. These horcruxes manifest themselves when we lose our ability to exercise our intellect. Much like Voldemort, ignorance does not take time to get to know that which it does not understand. It is clever enough to understand that many intolerant actions by certain Americans might provide enough frustration for some Muslims (here and abroad) to become extreme, but it does not understand that dialogue, mixed with a little understanding and acceptance by all Americans can prevent its network of Osamas from expanding. We must understand that this is the only thing that is more powerful than ignorance, and thus the only thing that can take it down.
We have won this battle, America, but we have a war to fight that will never end because ignorance will never completely go away. We have allowed it too many horcruxes before deciding to conquer it. This will be a war that our children will be fighting in their own way. I can only hope that when my child is accused of being a spy, the accuser will rethink his comments when he hears Dumbledore’s voice in his ear saying, “Sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often. Best to say nothing at all, my dear man.”
Either that, or, “Alas! Ear wax!”