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Vladimir Putin Cited J.K. Rowling While Casting Himself as “Cancel Culture” Victim

You either die a hero or live long enough to become associated with the real-life version of your famous villain.

Voldemort smirking in the Harry Potter series

At the core of the “cancel culture” debate is Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. She deserves to be criticized and called out for her harmful stance on trans rights and how she has been weaponizing her platform against the trans community. Now, she has Vladimir Putin on her side—yep, you read that absolutely correctly—in a moment she should maybe take a pause and consider whether she’s on the right side here.

The Kremlin is claiming that “cancel culture” is being aimed at Russia (the country waging war on Ukraine for no apparent reason other than Putin’s megalomania). And his example for explaining said cancel culture was to use Rowling as a talking point. Putin said, “They are now trying to cancel our country. I’m talking about the progressive discrimination of everything to do with Russia.”

Parker Molloy nailed her description of this because, currently, Putin is in another war against the media and refusing to let stories get out, so to pretend to care about “cancel culture” is completely disingenuous and a ploy in his propaganda against Ukraine.

On Twitter, Rowling has responded by saying, “Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians.” She went on to share an article about the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny with the hashtag #IStandWithUkraine. But even in that response, she’s still avoiding acknowledging that the anti-“cancel culture” argument is routinely used to avoid legitimate criticism and introspection. She’s just saying that Putin shouldn’t be the one making it.

The thing is: Putin saw how she was rightfully called out and thought to deploy a similar counter-argument in his propaganda machine against his own well-earned criticism, and still, Rowling’s probably not thinking, “Huh, am I the bad guy here?” but instead is simply saying he shouldn’t be the one to say anything on cancel culture.

You live long enough to see yourself become the villain

It is so very telling that someone like Putin would cast himself as on the same team as J.K. Rowling in 2022. And this is all, frankly, her doing. For the past two years (and longer before that) she’s weaponized her online presence to be a constant source of transphobia, and she’s prioritized the sharing of her views—to the benefit of exactly no one—over the actual wellbeing and lives of transgender people. Let alone actually changing her mind, it would cost her nothing to keep her thoughts to herself, and yet, she insists on doing tangible harm to others.

And her response to Putin’s attempt to align himself with her isn’t a self-reflection but rather to just tell him he isn’t the one to comment on this?

Rowling isn’t going to change her ways or listen to the people she’s targeting. That was clear before, and now that’s clearer than ever in how she responded to a notably anti-LGBTQ+ man who started a WAR commenting on her transphobia.

Rowling has donated money to Ukraine, and she’s shown her support for the country, but the fact that Putin is using you as an example for “cancel culture” in his propaganda should maybe make the lightbulb in your mind switch on that you’re in the wrong in some way or another.

(image: Warner Bros.)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.