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This can apply to all countries but I live in America so this question specifically focuses on the American government.

How would the President prepare the nation for the news that magic is real, humans can perform magic and magic users should be accepted as an integrated part of society?

In my world, magic exists as a hidden society with leaders, laws and schools. But there are also those outside the magical society, known as hedgewitches, that may or may not know about this magical world. They live among humans and practice their magic either on a personal level or in regulated cult-like groups. There are magical police prepared to deal with abuse and bring magical justice.

Mundane perception of magic is similar to that of UFO's. There are people who swear they saw magic, but either their stories are explained away or the person is considered crazy. Stories about magic are like creepy alien or Ouija board campfire stories and are seen as scary or wonderful.

The premise involves a character who is an ambassador for magical society. He approaches the President of America (speculation on other governments welcome) to discuss a planned revelation of magical society to the rest of civilisation. Other ambassadors to other countries are simultaneously planning similar public revelations. The world leaders should do this all at the same time.

Considerations:

  • What programs does the government need to set up in advance of the revelation, both private and public?
  • If hints of what's going on comes out, how do they address hard questions before the event?
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How is it certain that no world leader will announce it first? Or that there is no leak prior to the announcement? The temptation to be THE only one who announces it would be huge! – PatJ Mar 25 at 13:31
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@RedFive sorry, I wasn't clear with what I meant: I mean, what does it do to demonstrate that his magic is actually magic, rather than advanced technology? The reason I ask, is this will influence how the President convinces the rest of the populace. – Liesmith Mar 25 at 15:10
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@Liesmith - I understand now. Good question. I supose it could be presented to POTUS as one of those "magic is technology we just don't understand yet" kind of things with the subsequent plea to "help us understand by uniting with us. Use science to explore the limits and capabilities of magic" etc. I think a major part of science + magic working together is a mutual desire to learn, push the limits. Maybe scientists can ask questions magicians never thought of. Imagine the experiments of their combined resources! Sorry this isn't exactly a solid answer. There can be many arguments each way. – RedFive Mar 25 at 15:22
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"Magical justice" is definitely a concept I can get behind. – DoctorHeckle Mar 25 at 17:57
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@DoctorHeckle - I'm thinking up a pretty bad ass magical police force. I may bring up another question on that since they'll end up playing a large part in A. Putting down magiCal terrorist cells and 2. Teaching Munds to do the same with their limited skills (the magicians don't have a lot of confidence in teaching mundane anti-magic techniques but by golly they're going to (be forced to) try!). – RedFive Mar 25 at 18:14
up vote 15 down vote accepted

First let's consider truth and how it is accepted

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

So your leaders of the magical world may have planned a stage approach even before approaching the presidents and the power of the world to avoid them from a violent backlash. Indeed if the magical world remained hidden, they may have been reasons like smaller number, fear of anhiliation, ... which the world leaders may decide when approached by magicians in fear or loosing their power.

One plan for preparing the world leaders would be to prepare the world population that magic might not be so impossible as considered today:

  1. Create groups of as normal as possible people who claimed they believe in magic: they cannot prove it but have had first hand experience. Because they are not outliers this will create a first sense of revisiting assumptions
  2. get increased visibility on the topic, starting at first with non-credible newspapers, then going up the chain to end with articles on a yearly basis on highly respected papers questionning how much we know about the world and whether magic could not actually exists
  3. keep on until it becomes almost accepted magic could actually exists is a acceptable meme
  4. then have press /media/ schools having themes around 'what could magic bring', 'how could a society with magic look like', ...
  5. at the same time increase the level of magical sightings: at first events which classical science could explain, then events harder and harder to explain.

only when through enough of above establish diplomatic links with the powers to make them part of the next steps.

Above all,the plan should be at least a generation long to avoid violent backlash

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This seems very in line with the kind of forethought I want my magician society to have. They expect the backlash and are preparing for it in advance; making it manageable - @oberron – RedFive Mar 25 at 15:39
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Found this while looking up your good quote: cs.uwaterloo.ca/~shallit/Papers/stages.pdf – PatJ Mar 25 at 16:26
    
@PatJ, it is indeed a very good article often referred when debunking the alleged author for this quote :) – oberron Mar 25 at 18:19

The thing would explode

As soon as most world leaders know about it, there is no way to hold the thing secret, unless the magicians actively mind-control our world leaders (which wouldn't be a very good first impression). "Having a smooth transition" vs. "being the one to say it first" may be in question in some democratic countries. But for most dictators, it would be a no-brainer.

Then, like in the prisoner's dilemma, not saying immediately would be pretty bad for your reelection in a democratic society.

So, I know I'm of topic, but a government would be better "as to how to handle the PR shitstorm" than "how to slowly make this happen".

Here are a few things to consider.

Denial

Global warming, evolution, quantum physics and relativity are scientific facts with direct impacts on our technology, yet those facts are often refuted (specially in the US). A "magic exists" would give fundamentalist a reason to say to scientists "see, there is more to it than you said" and hinder belief in any official fact.

Public demonstrations at school, meeting with scientist in universities, TV appearance would be good. The good thing is: no tv network will be crazy enough to refuse an actual magician to show some awesome trick to the world.

Witch-hunt

In some places, witchcraft is punishable by law. Those laws are currently not enforced much (thankfully), but they would become extremely relevant. And of course, some people would be happy those laws exists.

Specifically in America, you can see the magic as a gun. People will arm themselves and treat any kind of magic as threatening. I'm already imagining something like "the best way to stop a bad guy with magic is with a good guy with a gun".

Asking the supreme court to revoke all the witch-hunt laws would be necessary. A "magic license" and an agency dedicated to monitor all magic activities will have to happen. Think of how muslims are (in an unjustified manner) treated in the western world just because "some of them may be terrorists". Now imagine how a black or a middle-easterner with magic power would be seen.

For public purpose, you would have to say "we're looking constantly over those guys shoulder"

Other ideas

  • Public magical healings
  • A magic marines squad (military are usually popular)
  • Any way to "commercialize" magic
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Good points. I think you hit the nail on the head with how hatred would rise to the front of most American minds. Interesting thoughts in your "Other ideas" too. So let's say all is quiet up until the reveal and leaders somehow unite and keep this under the radar (or just don't acknowledge the crazy dictator who has already publicly declared until the deadline, which may move up because of this spilling of the beans). What is the first action taken by the newly established Department of Magical Relations (or whatever)? – RedFive Mar 25 at 15:03
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As I said in response to denial: TV appearances and meeting with scientists. Ivy league unis will beg for a magic department and should have it. – PatJ Mar 25 at 15:08
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Regarding "global warming, evolution, quantum physics and relativity", you'll notice that none of those are phenomenon that the average person can clearly and immediately observe for themselves. People will much more readily believe in things they can see and experience for themselves over things they only hear about from others. Assuming magic is something whose effects can be easily observed by the average person I kinda doubt the denial stage would last particularly long for most people, if it ever even existed in the first place. – Ajedi32 Mar 25 at 19:48
    
Wait, I have a question. So you mean man made global warming, or natural global warming? Because one doesn't exist, and has proven to be nonexistent, and the other exists but we can do nothing about it. Also, evolution is still a theory, and therefore cannot yet be considered fact. Besides, it is not observable in a human lifetime and is hard to show using evidence. – XandarTheZenon Mar 25 at 23:31
    
@Ajedi32 Indeed, yet quantum physics makes my computer work and relativity my GPS. People may accept fireball without accepting magic itself, though as you say, the denial would be short. – PatJ Mar 26 at 11:32

Do you know the Laundry series by Charles Stross? His protagonist made the remark that the US is really at a disadvantage confronting eldritch horrors because of the strong Christian element of the population. Assuming the President could convince Americans that magic is real, would the witch trials start?

Assuming a mostly scientific mindset, the first step would be to establish magic as a science. Perhaps there would be no scientific explanation, but there might be reproducible results. With the covert backing of the government, get those results published in big-name scientific journals.

Something like

OK, we had nine experimental subjects. All tried to "curse" a lab rat. Four of the lab rats died within a week. Even more remarkably, when we repeated the experiment the same four subjects managed to kill their lab rat with their "curse". This time one of the other lab rats died, too. So we took the four "witches," plus sixteen random students, and had them "curse" lab mice. This time the care and feeding of the lab animals was entrusted to colleagues from elsewhere. Again our four subjects killed their lab animals, and none of the others did.

The probability that this is random chance is 1-to-a-gazillion. We invite our colleagues to think of an improved experimental setting to exclude other errors.


Regarding the comment, a Magical Relations department would admit that relations with mages should be handled differently from relations with other citizens. Would a government take that step, or does a toxic spell dump come under ordinary EPA regulations?

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Good point. I'm checking out the Stross books. It sounds like an interesting point I didn't consider. – RedFive Mar 25 at 13:58
    
The series made me think there would probably have to be a "Magical Relations" department added to a lot of government agencies. – RedFive Mar 25 at 14:12
    
Pretty sure there would be magic-specific training for dealing with haywire spells. The idea would be to have these departments be for dealing with outcomes of magic use, but I can see how the public may take that as an acknowledgemeet of a them vs us mentality. – RedFive Mar 25 at 22:31

Politically, POTUS is rarely in the position of actually enacting any regulations, and most of what they will say has been carefully vetted beforehand. At the very least, the Cabinet, West Wing staff (including speech-writers and press relations staff), and most likely the Vice President, the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate and the House, and possibly several other Senators who (for whatever reason) might be particularly coöperative with the President's plan, would all be consulted.

A side effect of this, generally, is that at least one of the 50+ people who need to be involved will choose to drop some “hints” to the press. More often than not, at least an outline of the President's speeches (if not a script) are released to press agencies beforehand; attending the actual press conference gives them the ability to record any deviations from the notes, ask questions, and capture the President's actual delivery (on video, for example).

Most elected governments probably operate quite similarly … particularly the Westminster system countries (most of the other former British Empire).

I would expect, rather, that the “Magic President” would be in the position of presenting their case for “normalizing relations” with the mundane world first through the media. Compare the the “Battle of New York” in the Marvel cinematic universe: the superheroes are able to be revealed to the public because they have just fended off something much scarier: the alien invasion of New York City is more frightening to the public than some guy who can turn into a big green monster, for example.

If POTUS & al are apprised of the situation in advance, they might participate in some way (eg: send out the National Guard to evacuate civilians from the impending disaster) and make the announcement shortly following public awareness.

eg: “This morning, March 25, 2016, the United States Coast Guard and the National Guard of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were called up to assist in containing an event which threatened the population of Boston in a way not previously imagined. Our brave soldiers and sailors were assisted by help from an ally we had never before known, the Magic People, …”

Compare eg, the Pearl Harbor Announcement (the Infamy Speech): the public was well aware that we had been attacked, but the President's speech presented a course of action that was (uniquely) no longer subject to (most) considerations of politics and public opinion.

By (a) presenting the alliance as fait accompli and (b) making the “newcomers” an ally rather than merely strangers, one might hope to avoid a great deal of political wrangling.

ps. Corrolary

It occurs to me that a sufficiently corrupt POTUS or “Magic King” could absolutely create a false “cataclysm” to stage such an event; ie, a “false flag” event.

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Great answer! I'm really happy with how this question is turning out. I like the idea of having that uniting event. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of deal. – RedFive Mar 25 at 18:06

Today I approach you not as the president of the United States of America, but as a human being who believes in magic and I think it's time for us all to accept the truth that has been denied for so long. Now it's the time to rise and shout out loud : Magic is real !!! No more hiding in the dark, no more fear of rejection. I know that many of you may consider magicians as a threat to society and to everyone, but we need to give them a chance first, a chance to prove that we were wrong for too long. Now we have rules to protect mages from humans, and of course humans from mages, let's all follow those rules and live together in peace and harmony. God bless America and every place else, humans and mages.

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Feel free to edit/modify this glorious speech as you see fit :) – Javert Mar 25 at 15:15
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Hmm... You just implied that mages aren't human. If they're not considered as "human, but with magic", some people will consider them as "sub-human, with evil powers". – wizzwizz4 Mar 25 at 18:09

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