Tl;Dr of that last post:
People pretending that we only hate Umbridge more than Voldemort because she’s a “familiar” sort of evil (the “mean…
Wait. Wait, did someone actually try to make a point about wizards (and the teachers at hogwarts) being awful because they didn’t get involved in Muggle wars and genocides? Really?
I will grant you that the teachers at Hogwarts got in an unholy awful mess (they had children fighting their wars, after all, so there was that) and that the government of the wizarding world was also debatably sucky. But as someone who graduated from an awful school system and lives in a country with a screwed up political system this was probably the most realistic part of the whole damn book series. Granted, we’re not exactly out fighting wars with guns (or wands) but we get the lovely distinction of being ground zero for every political battle ever waged. If I hear “For the children” one more time I will scream. Nevermind school shootings and all the other crap that manages to make things worse.
As for having wizards helping muggles with their wars and genocides…do you have any idea what an awful, terrible, horrible idea that would be? Muggle governments (or governments) manage to turn just about everything into a weapon and you want to inform them about magic? You want dictatorships to hear about the imperio curse? You want to give countries information on the Cruciatus? Or the Killing curse? Really? You think it’s an excellent idea for wizards and witches to get involved in the muggle world until which point some government or another declares them a threat, locks them up and experiments on them? Because if you don’t think that would happen you aren’t paying attention.
And as for Snape: he was not a nice man. Hell, he might not have even been a good man but he was not a monster. He made a mistake at 17-18 that he paid for for the rest of his life. Dumbledore owned his ass from the time he stepped forward at 20 to switch sides. And you know what? So what if he switched sides for Lily in the beginning because by the end he obviously wasn’t just fighting for her. If he was he’d have been gone once Dumbledore died. After all, without that man around and Lily dead what reason would he have to stick around? If he was the monster that people seem to think he is, if he were truly evil, the he’d have never done what could to help Harry and co in the end.
Umbridge though? Here’s a woman who used a torture device to force children to accept whatever rhetoric she and the ministry deemed appropriate. Who nearly cast crucio (an illegal curse) on a child because she wanted answers out of him. And then, without fudges direction or Scrigmeores (since he was dead) she happily went about prosecuting muggle borns, snapping their wands and locking them up. All while wearing a piece of soul that seemed to have no affect on her. Whenever the trio wore them it made them angry, dark…it had that effect (which, by the way, wasn’t possession. We saw Possession in the Second book and in the Fifth.). But Umbridge? She happily cast a patronus and seemed almost cheerful as she did all of these things, something that if she were anything less than awful (I hesitate to use the word ‘evil’ but it is probably applicable) would not have been possible.
And you want to compare that to Snape? Yes, he was a Death Eater. But judging by his concern for his soul it would suggest that (until Dumbledore) he hadn’t killed anyone. Which, if you look at his profession, made sense. A master in Potions? How many of those are there in the wizarding world, do you think? Voldemort was insane but he wasn’t stupid (at least not at the beginning). And given Snapes proximity to the people Voldemort hated it would be dumb as shit to risk his exposure on the battlefield. Not when you have the potential for creating a spy, not when you have someone that can create you potions of you need them. Granted, this is all speculation, but given that he had been so concerned for his soul it would be a good explanation as to why he wouldn’t have killed someone before Dumbledore. I can’t say much about whether he tortured anyone or not (there is nothing in canon to suggest one way or the other) but other characters (*coughHarrycough*) attempted it so he’s hardly the only one who could bears that albatross.
As for the bullying…I do not like how he treated Neville but I understand it. I was a chemistry major which is the closest to potions that muggles get. And let me tell you, insults and belittling and yelling are the LEAST you get if you majorly screw up. I know a freshman girl who was reduced to tears by her professor because she didn’t pay attention, put the base in the acid waste jar and the jar exploded. If the shield hadn’t been down do you have any idea how much damage that could have done? So yea, when it comes to safety sometimes harsh measures are needed because they make you pay attention These potions could be dangerous and Neville was not a cautious boy, not from day one. Snapes job was to get them through his class alive and relatively unharmed and, to be entirely honest, Neville was a ticking time bomb. Do I like Snapes methods? No I do not. But we are talking about a boy who couldn’t figure out how to put his earmuffs on in herbology and got knocked out. And we’re somehow surprised that Snape fixated on trying to get him not to screw up? Sometimes those sorts of threats and comments (like in my chemistry class when we worked with cyanide and our professor said if we dropepd it we killed the whole class) make you pay attention and actually be cautious. And maybe he should have been nice but he and Dumbledore were the only people who knew about Voldemorts continued existence and Dumbledore, in his infinite wisdom, felt it wise to stick the Slytherins (whose parents, for a lot of them, had been part of Voldemorts inner circle) with the Gryffindors who fought for the light. How do you think his spying would go if he was nice to them? Especially when being nice to friends of the Chosen One would make him super suspicious to everyone? Even if it helped them with potions? We don’t see Snape with any other houses besides Slytherin and Gryffindor so it is hard to judge the basis of his behavior.
As for Nevilles Boggart being Snape…so what? What exactly does that prove? We don’t know why his boggart was Snape. Boggarts are supposed to be what you fear most right? Hermiones was failing her classes but (some) have theorized that is was more than that, that it was fear of being kicked out of the wizarding world. Harry’s was dementors but, as Remus said, he was afraid of fear itself. He was afraid of the voices he heard, of the experience he had, when a dementor was near him. Of hearing his mother dying. REmus was afraid of the moon…but its more than that too, isn’t it? He’s afraid of what he becomes under the moon. Of what the moon means for him. So what was Nevilles reason for being afraid of Snape? He got bullied and abused by Draco and Co too (we saw that in first year) so what made Snape so special? Until we know that it’s hard to say that it was just because he was mean and a bully. There is probably a deeper meaning there that JK didn’t get around to revealing.
As for Harry and the other two….jesus were they stupid. We are talking about three kids that hid the existence of a dragon, lied about their concerns, snuck through dangerous trials and nearly got themselves killed on a yearly basis. Harry put himself and others in very real danger because of his inability to listen so Snape was hardly wrong with many of his insults. Harry was an arrogant, selfish idiot who didn’t think his actions through and nearly got himself and a ton of other people killed in the process. Snape (and McGongall to some extent) were the only two people in Harry’s Wizarding life that kept him grounded and reminded him he wasn’t the Boy Who Lived. Who made sure his ego didn’t shoot through the roof (not that this helped his idiocy). McGonagall was more measured about it but even she rewarded him for some dumb as shit stunts (anyone remember the Numbus 2000?). Snape didn’t put up with that bullshit and he was basically the only one. Was he unnecessarily harsh? Probably. But combined with his dislike for Harry’s father and Harry’s stupidity, I can’t say I’d have been much more patient. Dumbledore even rewarded this behavior! Look at the end of book one, or book three, or book five…And then there was the entirety of book six was spent with him basically not listening to Dumbledore or anyone else. Hell, in book five he is so sure he knows better than both Snape and Dumbledore that he refuses to learn legimancy, breaks into a professors private things and then continues on to do stupid shit that ends up getting his godfather killed. That gets Ron injured and puts his friends in mortal peril. And you’re worried that Snape was mean to him? Seriously? I think people like Dumbledore who were too kind to him caused more damn harm than Snape ever did.
Nevermind the fact that Harry is a living embodiment of his failure to protect Lily. There he is, looking like James Potter with Lily’s eyes and he’s forced to face what he did everytime he’s there. That would make the best of us lash out even if the child wasn’t willfully arrogant. Does it make what he did right? No, it doesn’t but judging by Snape’s personality it’s not a far-featched reaction. And it gets better because, though he swore to protect him, he comes to find out has had to die since the beginning and there’s nothing he can do about it. I’m sure that made it all that much better for him.
As for outing Remus…are people really suggesting that wasn’t the right thing to do? This was a man who lied about the secret entrances to Hogwarts that he knew a purported murderer would also know, lied about said murderer being an animagus (when he still believed his friend was out to murder a student living in the school) and then managed to forget to take the last dose of potion that would have kept him from killing everyone. When you are dangerous like that you do not get to have an ‘opps’ moment. Not in a school full of children. That is NEVER acceptable. And, given Dumbledores history with letting the mauraders and harry’s antics slide, there was not guarantee that anything would have been done to reprimand Remus for his lapse.
Now Snape was not a nice or unselfish man. What he did he did for his own reasons: to make up for what happened to Lily. To make up for the one mistake he could never forgive himself for. And, really, that’s no different than what Dumbledore did. The entire 7th book shined a glaring light on his character and revealed him to be no better, just a man making up for a selfish choice that cost him someone he loved. Another man making up for blind ambition and selfishness. He was not a good man either, or at least his past wasn’t, but he did good things. And the same is true for Snape. Snape wasn’t a nice man, he wasn’t an unselfish man…maybe not even a good man. But he did good things. He gave his life to stopping Voldemort, risked his life on several occasions to save Harry’s ass. He killed probably the only real friend (if you can call Dumbledore a friend) that he had at the time, risking his soul in the process and losing the respect of people like McGongall who he probably cared for in his own way.
Snape wasn’t Umbridge. He was petty, certainly, but he didn’t hurt the students in his charge the way Umbridge did. He was mean but he never reached the level of cruelty that Umbridge did. And while both were selfish, Umbridge’s selfishness stemmed from a place of hatred, bias and a lust for power. Snapes selfishness stemmed from a place of love (for lily) regret (for betryaing her) and childish rivalry. Snape was that unfair teacher we all had that left the bitter taste of unjustice in our mouth. But Umbridge? Umbridge is the politician that systematically dictates who deserved rights and who doesn’t. Both are unfair, certainly, but there is a certain…difference in severity between the two.