ByTom Cox, writer at
Staff writer for Moviepilot. Tweet me @thomascox500
Tom Cox

Potter lore has long considered Salazar Slytherin, founder of the shady serpentine house, to be a racist bastard.

With Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them starring Eddie Redmayne due for release on November 18 this year, it's imperative to know the good from the bad, your Sirius from your Lucius.

Tumblr user Magelet from Kentucky caused a sensation with the idea that Salazar's motives of magical (read: racial) purification, by excluding the magical from Muggle families from Hogwarts, were actually out of practical care for the wizarding world rather than bigotry.

There are some possible links to be drawn between Salazar's action and racial considerations in the real world.

Here is Magelet's post:

Alongside the image Magelet wrote:

Here it is, canon evidence that Salazar Slytherin was NOT a racist bigot. He was concerned for the well-being and safety of the magical community, which could have been compromised by letting the “common people” know that wizards and witches existed.

Convinced? Me neither. Let's break it down.

Salazar is a baddie

Voldy: cheese!
Voldy: cheese!

He's a bad egg. He's the one who tried to kill Godric, Rowena and Helena; who introduced a child-hungry basilisk into a school; who's an ancestor of Lord Voldemort. Bad bad bad.

He viewed those who weren't of pure-blood as untrustworthy. He tried to persuade the other founders only to take those of wizarding heritage - as described in the extract above. His key characteristic was self-preservation.

Crucially, he aimed to violently purge Hogwarts of non pure-bloods.


Salazar preferred 'pure-blood', which may be defined as having an approximately pure magical bloodline. No Muggles in the family tree, in theory.

But, as Sirius points out in The Order of The Phoenix:

The pure-blood families are all interrelated. If you’re only going to let your sons and daughters marry pure-bloods your choice is very limited; there are hardly any of us left.

Even Voldemort had a Muggle father.

The thirst for pure-blood causes angst among those who want it, with many half-bloods hiding their ancestry in order to be accepted to roles like those of the Death Eaters. Those who wish to remain of pure-blood have to marry their cousins and disown those who stray into relationships outside the family.

The ideology has clear parallels with those of regimes like the Nazis. They had a 'master race' idea that the Nordic Aryans have ideal genetics and anything else is subordinate.

Faith in this kind of racial purity has formed the foundation for bloody trails of genocide throughout history.

Witch hunts

The real sport of witch dunking
The real sport of witch dunking

Tumblr user Magelet underlines that the reason Hogwarts was constructed on an isolated crag in Scotland was because of the "persecution" wizards used to suffer.

Indeed, the real-life hunting of so-called witches in the US forms the foundation for the forthcoming film.

J. K. Rowling speaks about the new setting on her website Pottermore:

"Thanks in no small part to events like the Salem witch trials, the North American wizarding community lives strictly off the No-Maj radar."

('No-Maj' being her Americanism for 'Muggle')

Fellow Tumblr user datvikingtho contextualizes Salazar's decision, arguing that given how rampant witch hunts were in the UK when Hogwarts was founded, his selective views were necessary to ensure safety.

The school was founded around 990 AD at the end of Dark Ages, a period renowned for its intolerance of non-Christian teachings in reality.

Many were killed or imprisoned on suspicion of having magic, for this was supposed to be a sign they had been taken over by the devil. It wasn't until 1735 that the UK's Witchcraft Act criminalised accusing someone of having magical powers.

Therefore Salazar may have been taking precautions aimed at preventing the Muggle-inflicted genocide upon witches and wizards.


Death eaters require pure-blood
Death eaters require pure-blood

Salazar acted on the belief that Muggle-born wizards could betray the details of the wizarding world to the non-magic world and trigger war.

Datviking tho says:

Future racists and pureblooded elitists will take and twist Slytherin’s words, having heard only the story that has been passed down for a thousand years. They use words of caution to justify their want for genocide.

Slytherin isn’t the bad guy, here. And I am so down for clearing his name.

However, another Tumblr user called Crimson Daisy points out that Rowling has refuted this idea on Pottermore. According to Daisy, the famed writer has stated that witch hunts were not a great enough threat in the founder's time in the UK to warrant Salazar's anxiety about pure-bloods.

Rowling says Muggles and magic folk generally lived in harmony in the Dark Ages. She also says that Gryffindor's view was right - that Hogwarts should accept Muggle-borns and fight any conflict that came their way.

However, this does not mean that snakey Salazar was necessarily racist. Perhaps just scared, misguided and paranoid. The choice is yours, Muggles.

Watch the trailer for 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' here:

Do you think this clears Slytherin's name?

Source: A Magelet's Nest


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