Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Is Harry Potter stamp un-American?

By Dean Obeidallah
updated 7:53 AM EST, Fri November 22, 2013
July 23 marks Daniel Radcliffe's 25th birthday. He and his "Harry Potter" co-stars graduated from the franchise in 2011, but there's a plan for additional films set in the Potter-verse, including a spinoff <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/showbiz/movies/jk-rowling-new-movie-potter/index.html?iref=allsearch' target='_blank'>based on a fictional Hogwarts textbook</a>. Radcliffe, who has been busy with movies such as "Kill Your Darlings," <a href='http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/daniel-radcliffe-says-no-to-new-harry-potter-film-20130918' target='_blank'>doesn't plan to make an appearance</a>. But what's the rest of the cast up to these days? July 23 marks Daniel Radcliffe's 25th birthday. He and his "Harry Potter" co-stars graduated from the franchise in 2011, but there's a plan for additional films set in the Potter-verse, including a spinoff based on a fictional Hogwarts textbook. Radcliffe, who has been busy with movies such as "Kill Your Darlings," doesn't plan to make an appearance. But what's the rest of the cast up to these days?
HIDE CAPTION
'Harry Potter': Hogwarts class of '11
'Harry Potter': Hogwarts class of '11
'Harry Potter': Hogwarts class of '11
'Harry Potter': Hogwarts class of '11
'Harry Potter': Hogwarts class of '11
'Harry Potter': Hogwarts class of '11
'Harry Potter': Hogwarts class of '11
'Harry Potter': Hogwarts class of '11
'Harry Potter': Hogwarts class of '11
'Harry Potter': Hogwarts class of '11
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some stamp collectors are upset over a new line of Harry Potter stamps
  • Dean Obeidallah: Keep in mind that the Postal Service is in a financial mess
  • He says popular stamps are preferable to higher deficits or drastic cuts in services
  • Obeidallah: The Postal Service should roll out some stamps that can make money

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the co-director of the new comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" It was released recently. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- First, immigrants steal Americans' jobs. And now foreigners are stealing Americans' rightful place on U.S. postage stamps!

OK, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. But a new line of Harry Potter stamps released this week by the U.S. Postal Service has outraged some stamp enthusiasts. As the former head of the American Philatelic Society (that's a stamp collecting society to the rest of us) noted: "Harry Potter is not American. It's foreign, and it's so blatantly commercial it's off the charts."

First off, can a fictitious teenage wizard ever become a U.S. citizen? Secondly, and far more importantly, the Postal Service is in a financial "hot mess." It's losing $25 million every day. And for the 2013 fiscal year, which ended September 30, the USPS ran up a deficit of $5 billion.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

At this point, I'd be all for a stamp bearing the image of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack if that could generate revenue. That's preferable to higher deficits, drastic cuts in services and increases in stamp prices.

Look, I understand that one of the mandates of the Postal Service is, "portraying the American experience to a world audience through the issuance of postage stamps." But the "American experience" is not just colored by U.S. citizens.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

Plus Harry Potter and his cast of cohorts are not the first non-U.S. citizens to grace our stamps. Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Mother Theresa and French singer Edith Piaf have all been featured on past stamps.

This is not the first time a new set of stamps has caused controversy. In 2001, the Postal Service came under fire from some on the right when it released the Frida Kahlo stamp because she was a Communist, a Mexican and a bisexual. In fact, the late Republican Senator Jesse Helms denounced the stamp on the Senate floor.

Some have even objected to stamps honoring Mother Theresa, celebrating the Muslim Eid holiday, or bearing the image of the famed Botticelli painting of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus. Why? Because they were troubled by the religious implications.

It appears, though, that the real reason for the uproar over the Harry Potter stamp isn't his citizenship status. Rather, it's because stamp purists are dismayed by the increasing commercialization of U.S. postage stamps. As one collector said: "They shouldn't be reduced to the latest fads, whatever's going to sell."

This very issue has caused friction between the Postal Service and the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee -- a body established in 1957 to evaluate and recommend to the USPS what should be chosen for stamps.

The tension undoubtedly escalated when the Postal Service chose not to consult with this advisory committee before approving the new Harry Potter stamp collection.

But here's the thing: It's not an either/or scenario. Stamps bearing images of iconic America, like national parks and national heroes, will always have their audience. And pop culture stamps certainly have their legion of fans. Keep in mind that the stamp featuring Elvis Presley is the top seller of all time with over 700 million sold.

So I say it's time for the Postal Service to roll out stamps that will make money. I don't care if it's Miley Cyrus swinging on a wrecking ball, an angry Donald Trump or Honey Boo Boo wearing a tiara. These are all preferable to the Postal Service incurring more debt and slashing services to the point where it ends up having to lay off so many postal workers that it's stuck delivering mail via carrier pigeon.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:01 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Paul Callan says the grand jury is the right process to use to decide if charges should be brought against the police officer
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Theresa Brown says the Ebola crisis brought nurses into the national conversation on health care. They need to stay there.
updated 6:35 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Patrick Hornbeck says don't buy the hype: The arguments the Vatican used in its interim report would have virtually guaranteed that same-sex couples remained second class citizens
updated 9:48 PM EDT, Sat October 25, 2014
Paul Begala says Iowa's U.S. Senate candidate, Joni Ernst, told NRA she has right to use gun to defend herself--even from the government. But shooting at officials is not what the Founders had in mind
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
John Sutter: Why are we so surprised the head of a major international corporation learned another language?
updated 5:54 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Jason Johnson says Ferguson isn't a downtrodden community rising up against the white oppressor, but it is looking for justice
updated 12:21 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
updated 12:00 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Crystal Wright says racist remarks like those made by black Republican actress Stacey Dash do nothing to get blacks to join the GOP
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Mel Robbins says by telling her story, Monica Lewinsky offers a lesson in confronting humiliating mistakes while keeping her head held high
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT