Yes, I’d Join Grindelwald
I’ve been battling with this thought ever since I watched Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – would I join Grindelwald? After all, knowing what I do about his past and what he goes on to do, how could I? He’s an absolute monster. However, I began asking myself, “If I were a witch in the 1920s, and if I had been faced with this decision having no knowledge of those things, would I believe what Grindelwald is promising?” In the end, I came to this conclusion: Yes. I would.
Does that make me a bad person? Does that make me a coward? Suddenly, I was having an existential crisis of sorts, thinking, “Oh my goodness, this man is horrible and I think I would join him. Do I need to reevaluate my whole life? He’s a tyrant!” Once I was able to calm down, I realized that no, thinking that does not make me a terrible person.
Take a moment and think about what Grindelwald is promising. From what I would have seen as an attendee of his rally in Paris, Grindelwald is an extremely charismatic leader who wants to rid the wizarding community of the oppression it has faced. He wants us to be able to love whom we want and to freely be who we are. A tempting prospect, is it not? As a member of the LGBTQ+ community who has always felt like she needed to hide a part of her, surely you can see why those promises would be attractive.
When the Aurors attack at the rally, killing one of the attendees, Grindelwald says that his followers are not the ones resorting to violence. And based on what I witnessed at the rally, that is true. Neither Grindelwald nor his supporters showed any violence that I would have seen until they were threatened, and when one person tried to defend herself, she was killed immediately. This makes Grindelwald’s cause stronger by making that witch a martyr, so to speak, showing that people feel so strongly about his cause that they are willing to die for it. That kind of passion from his followers would surely show me how important they felt the “revolution” was, and if any good revolution is to succeed, it needs passionate followers.
My hypothetical self never would have witnessed Grindelwald’s prior crimes. She never would have seen him and his loyal followers murder an innocent family in cold blood. She knows nothing about his mission to bring Credence to his side and what Grindelwald could accomplish with that much power. She knows nothing about what the future holds. All she sees is the shining possibility that maybe she wouldn’t have to hide who she is anymore, which is a future she has wanted for as long as she can remember.
This film isn’t set in the 21st century. Information isn’t as readily available about political leaders as is it is today. Perhaps that would make me naive in my decision, but who here hasn’t made a misinformed decision in their life? Presented with the facts and events I would have witnessed as a 20th-century witch, much like Queenie, in my mind, the potential rewards would outweigh the risks.
As things start to escalate, I’m certain that once I saw Grindelwald for who he really was, I would be out of there quicker than you can say “für das größere Wohl.” How that would end up for hypothetical me, I can’t say. But I could only hope that if I wasn’t immediately killed for trying to desert, people would see that I had indeed made a decision based on lies I was fed. But if I have to spend a few years in MACUSA custody, I would be willing to take that punishment.
If you, too, have been feeling bad about the thought that you would probably join Grindelwald, fret no longer. You’re not alone! We can all share a cell at MACUSA headquarters together and talk about the stupid decisions we made.