26

Leaving aside ethical and moral considerations, the whole policy of Salazar Slytherin's "we should not teach muggle-born magic-capable children" seems to be completely counter-productive to the whole "Let's not allow Muggles to know about existence of magical world" idea.

To wit, muggle-born wizards are obviously capable of performing magic (there were several examples in the book) even without wands/training, and many of them are powerful enough as far as their magical ability that it's likely to get noticed.

So, short of killing off every child that has latent magical abilities (or at least those with abilities beyond some threshold) or charming them so they are unable to do any magic, wouldn't refusal to teach them all how to PROPERLY use magic and what the rules are merely get a lot more chances for Muggles to see magic being performed which totally goes against the whole "Let's not allow Muggles realize that there are magic users around" that drives a lot of the Wizarding rules?

UPDATE Just to clarify - this question is about the idea of Salazar Slytherin himself and not the modern-day Death Eaters/Voldemort.

  • Consider that Hogwarts was perhaps not the only wizarding school back then, though. The rejected ones could've studied somewhere else, albeit farther and less convenient. – Voldemort Jun 16 '13 at 9:02
  • 11
    Salazar Slytherin (Late 900s) existed before the International Statute of Secrecy (1692): hp-lexicon.org/timeline.html – Möoz Apr 16 '14 at 23:40
  • @BorhanMooz - yup, see Sierrafuller's answer – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 17 '14 at 1:13
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    Imagine the number of obscurus which would have existed – Bernard the Bear Apr 27 '18 at 10:14
32

Context is everything: Salazar Slytherin lived in the High Middle Ages, a period where most Muggles would be intensely religious and astoundingly hateful and superstitious towards magic. Suffer not a witch to live and all that.

Muggle-borns raised in that environment could be extremely self-loathing, and might be willing to betray the magical community to the Muggles. Formal schooling for wizards was also just being established: Before that, the established system was one of apprenticeship.

Let's note that Salazar Slytherin had no problem whatsoever with half-bloods, only muggleborns. He might well have believed that Muggleborns would sort themselves: Those that wanted to be part of the magical community would seek out an apprenticeship with an established wizard, those that wanted no part of it could live apart. Their half-blood children would have been raised in the magical community and be safe to educate in Hogwarts.

Godric Gryffindor, who was a warrior, would want every able-bodied wizard to have a complete education, in order to be effective in the war against the goblins, irrespective of how safe or unsafe it was for the school. Gryffindors are all about taking risks for the Greater Good and Slytherins are all about self-preservation.

As for the Chamber of Secrets, Slytherin himself never used it, nor did his heirs... Until the insane Riddle. The basilisk could be there in case muggleborns did betray the school, as an emergency measure. The Heir could get rid of those not trustworthy so that the wizards could defend themselves from the witch hunters. If it was his intention that it would be used at a whim, some descendant of his would have done it shortly after the other Founders were dead. They did not.

  • 2
    Hmm... The first part is excellent. The last paragraph sounds like unsubstantiated opinion (not necesarily wrong, just not backed up). +1 on the balance! – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 16 '13 at 11:47
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    Overall, I think your answer is great. A couple of historical quibbles, though--Slytherin could not have lived during the High Middle Ages (about 1000-1300), because he predates Merlin, who unquestionably lived during the "Dark" Ages (c. 500-1000). European witch-hunts did not become a problem until the early modern period, around 1400 to 1700. Some anti-wizarding prejudice might have existed during Slytherin's time, but there were no large-scale witch-hunts in Slytherin's day. The High Middle Ages were largely free of that sort of hysteria. – E. J. Mar 14 '15 at 20:05
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    @E.J: see scifi.stackexchange.com/q/18550/4918 about when Slytherin lived. – b_jonas May 26 '15 at 21:55
19

It may be that those of the mind not wanting to teach muggle-born children magic would also be of the mind that magic users should be openly ruling the muggles. In this case secrecy would no longer matter, and too the mud bloods would probably be killed, imprisoned or forced into servitude at the first display of magical affinity.

Just my 2 cents, nothing to back it up.

  • I would prefer a canonical (in- or out- universe, but canonical) answer, but +1 for sound logic anyway – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 9 '11 at 20:29
8

It isn't logical and doesn't have to be logical.

I've found many people forget Voldemort is a "mudblood" himself. While he's not in control of Slytherin, still, he's the best example. He hates himself and everyone around him and that's what a policy like this is about: hate (which is closely related to fear).

It's not about logic, it's about fear of "the other" and hate of imperfections in one's self.

Genocide and crimes against humanity don't make sense because they aren't about logic. Humans are, first and foremost, emotional beings and only a few ever seem to make it to understanding logical reasoning when applied to human interactions. When you hate and fear, you want to hurt and destroy and logic doesn't play any part in that.

  • You are mixing up Dark Wizard Voldemort and a supposedly NON Dark wizard Slytherin – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 10 '11 at 14:01
  • Wasn't Voldemort half-blood? His mother was a witch. Isn't a mudblood one with both parents being muggle? – Dason Feb 4 '12 at 22:03
  • @Dason: Often people like Voldemort are so angry with their own inadequacies that they turn their self loathing into hating the same trait in others. That's the case here: He hates being half-blood, so he takes that anger out on everyone else. But, considering his power, he proves that a half-blood can be a powerful wizard - even more powerful than manu full-bloods. – Tango Feb 4 '12 at 22:08
  • Yeah - it's just that you called Voldemort a mudblood in your answer and that doesn't seem quite right. Isn't mudblood reserved for those with muggle parents? – Dason Feb 4 '12 at 22:42
  • @Dason: I can't always keep them straight -- I thought mudblood included 1/2 muggle. – Tango Feb 5 '12 at 4:00
8

So, to start off I feel that there is a need to set up a general timeline, just to clear up a bit.

  • Salazar Slytherin and the Founders were assumed to be born sometime in the 10th century which would have been sometime in the middle of the Dark Ages (which is a finicky term... many apply it to the 10th-11th centuries, others apply it to the 6th-11th... but hey, it sets the mood).
  • The International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy was put into law in the 17th century (signed in 1689 and enforced completely in 1692). I'd like to point out a slightly interesting fact - this was signed and put into action during the Age of Enlightenment/Age of Reason.

So, with all this... let's move on - does not allowing muggle-borns to learn magic endanger the whole "let's not allow Muggles to realize that there are magic users around?" Simply put... no, it wouldn't have since it can be assumed that the Wizarding World and the Muggle World coexisted to some degree. Throughout "Muggle" history people have gone the old crones for protective amulets and magical remedies. I'm betting that if Salazar's "no muggle-borns allowed" was accepted they could find other places to learn... parents could send them off to learn from the old ladies as apprentices. Then of course there were probably even other schools around that children could have gone off to (assuming of course that Hogwarts wasn't the oldest magical school in the world).

At least that's my view on it!

5

It is a way to include - and ridicule - racism in a book in a way that does not make race itself important. The muggle-born become the equivalent to "insert_race_here" without making the book political.

  • You're confusing a question asking in-universe whether or not this was a bad policy idea with a question about the author's intentions. While you're right that magical blood was a stand-in for race, that's irrelevant to the question being asked. – childcat15 May 26 '15 at 22:52
4

There is no reason behind not wanting to teach magically capable muggle children. At its most basic, the desire is to ethnically cleanse of all magically capable people, which has no logic behind it other than to preserve a group of people's identity to the detriment of others.

Numerous comments by various Slytherin members (I'm thinking in particular of the Malfoys) bear this out. Certainly the actions taken during Deathly Hallows were reminiscent of Nazi tactics to round up the Jews.

  • I was going more for Slytherin himself, who to the best of my knowledge was not Lord of the Sith, so to speak – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 10 '11 at 2:21
  • @DVK, not all racist people are inherently evil - even if racism is. They may be ill-informed (ignorant) and buying into stereotypes that create fear and/or some other form of division. Rowling clearly depicts this by showing that Draco Malfoy is confused and frightened and really just trying to please mom and dad. Perhaps Slytherin fell into one of these "in between" categories where his racist beliefs are distasteful, wrong, but he was not as evil as Voldemort (although he did create the chamber and the Basilisk to KILL. Maybe he was a former version of wizard evil. – balanced mama Dec 31 '12 at 1:57
  • So the attempts of some Muggles to ethnically cleanse wizards had no impact on Slytherin's behavior? Slytherin's actions were wrong and dangerous, but he shouldn't be conflated with Voldemort. – E. J. Jun 24 '15 at 17:56
0

It's pretty clear that if you were a muggle born wizard, then they would either kill you, enslave you, or throw you in prison. For references, see "The Chamber of Secrets", or even better, "Deathly Hallows". I don't think they were going to completely ignore them or anything.

Secondly, few non-trained wizards have the capacity to do any real magic. Sure, they might make glass vanish when they are mad, but they don't really know what they are doing, so...

  • 1
    I was going more for Slytherin himself, who to the best of my knowledge was not Lord of the Sith, so to speak. I don't recall him being cited as someone who would generally agree with Death Eaters' tactics or for that matter ultimate goals. – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 10 '11 at 2:21
0

I think one of the reasons at least was a fear for magic dieing out. Let me explain Slytherin believed in blood supremacy and could have possible thought that mixing blood could dilute magic blood. Thier are example threw history of trying to keep blood pure. That why a lot of royal families married in the family. So most people thought that way though but thoughts that did say a real danger ( note that I'm mentioning this to show him having this fear is possible.) Slytherin might have thought the best way to pet serve magical blood was to teach only thought with magical lineage. He is wrong in his fear but is a fear that probobly common for his time.

  • Welcome to SFF.SE. While you make good points about the reason why Slytherin came up with his policy, this doesn't really answer whether or not his policy conflicted with the policy that muggles weren't allowed to know about the existence of the magical world. – Null May 26 '15 at 21:07
  • The International Statute of Secrecy not around then so no such policy existed. This is said in other comments – Jared May 26 '15 at 21:41

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