No-Maj-Born?

I’ve been thinking a lot about American muggle-borns. Rappaport’s Law forbids wizards from befriending, marrying, or forming any real relationship with muggles – so what about those who have muggle family members? How does this society treat them?

Are they allowed into the magical world at all? Or do their Ilvermorny letters simply never come? The school may have a muggle as one of its founders, but it’s possible their policies changed around the time of the Salem Witch Trials or the incident that led to Rappaport’s Law. Did they decide that letting muggle-borns in on the secret was just too dangerous? Do they no longer have any concept “no-maj-born” at all? Do American muggle-borns simply grow up in the muggle world, never realizing there are others like them, never learning how to control their powers?

I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than the alternative: children with magic being taken from their parents, forbidden from contacting childhood friends, forced to leave behind completely the world they grew up in. Parents being lied to about the true nature of Ilvermorny and obliviated if they start to guess, never knowing why their kids are drifting so far away. Or would they even wonder? Would they simply be made to forget?

I kind of favor the first option, mostly because I find it slightly less horrifying. But it also fits with my theory that Credence Barebone is secretly a wizard. If muggle-borns are never brought into the magical community, it makes sense that he’d be able to hide his powers from his New Salem family.

Either way, though, the way that characters like Hermione and Harry go back and forth between the two worlds would hardly fit in the version of 1920’s America that Rowling has created. The strict separation of magical from “no-maj” would make that impossible.

For that matter, what about squibs? In the Harry Potter series, those from magical families with no magic of their own are sort of caught between two worlds. Would they also be forbidden from mixing with muggles in this new setting? Or would they be viewed as a threat, in the same way that muggles are?

I’m not sure any of this will be explored in-depth in Fantastic Beasts. Unless I’m right about Credence Barebone, there don’t seem to be any muggle-born or squib characters. Still, it’s horrifying to think of the implications of what would happen to those who are part of both worlds when they’re separated so completely.

Confused about MACUSA

J.K. Rowling has released a new article on MACUSA, the American magical government. My first instinct is confusion, because I’ve been pronouncing it mac-USA in my head, but apparently it’s “mah-cooz-ah”. I’m not sure any American would pronounce USA “ooz-ah”, and I know that’s going to annoy me when Fantastic Beasts comes out. For now I’m still pronouncing it my way.

Overall, I feel kind of like I do about a lot of the Fantastic Beasts tie-in content. It’s interesting, but underdeveloped. I finished it with very few questions answered and a huge number of new ones:

If MACUSA was officially neutral in the American Revolution, then what about other wars? The War of 1812? The Civil War? Did wizards from the north and south turn against each other? Did they want to take sides, even if their government was officially neutral? Did wizards abolish slavery at the same time as muggles?

What about the 20th century? Did Rappaport’s Law extend to ignoring even World Wars? Did MACUSA engage in an arms race with the Russian magical government? Did their twentieth century involve civil rights movements and women’s movements? Did their long history of female presidents give American witches things like the right to vote much earlier than muggle women? Did they consider moving the seat of their government out of New York City after the September 11 terrorist attacks?

And why, oh, why did they move their headquarters to Washington state in the 1770s?

Washington state did not exist in 1770s. It was not visited by European muggles until 1774. It was not fought over by the Americans and British until the War of 1812. It didn’t become a state until 1889. At the time when MACUSA supposedly moved there, what would become America was thirteen British colonies on the east coast.

(I thought it might mean Washington, D.C., but nope. The Sasquatch, AKA Bigfoot, is supposedly from the Pacific coast. And the whole point was to get away from the muggle congress in Baltimore, so staying in the muggle capital for so long would make no sense.)

I should say again that I didn’t necessarily dislike the article. I just think it was incomplete, focusing on the early days and the 1920s at the expense of the rest of American history, and a certain part of it does not fit. Some parts were great. I love that the third MACUSA president was a woman. I love the question of loyalty to one’s country versus loyalty to the magical community, which certainly is something that would come up, especially surrounding things like revolutions. I would like to know more about the things the article didn’t cover.

But … Washington state? Really?