Like it or not, Harry Potter has been a big influence in US culture. Many young Americanís and even some older Americanís have gone to the Harry Potter movies or bought the Harry Potter books. To me, it doesnít make a difference that Harry Potter was created by British author, J.K. Rowling.
Not all stamps must honor American subjects. Look at the popular Champions of Liberty series from the 1960s. All of those people were not American citizens. They were honored for their attempts to instill liberty in their respective countries. There are many, many US stamps that honor people, places, and events that are not directly tied to the US.
What I donít understand is why the stamps were announced with so much secrecy?
This isnít the first time an issue was released in secret. Scott #1193 for the Project Mercury stamp was prepared in secret and shipped to post offices in sealed packages in advance of John Glennís flight. The stamp was issued on Feb 20, 1962 after a successful mission. Instructions were then sent to post offices saying that it was OK to open the packages and begin selling the stamps. Thankfully, no one has to guess what would have happened to the stamps if the mission wasnít successful.
In the case of Scott #1193, I understand the secrecy. The USPS wanted to issue a stamp as soon as possible and it wanted to keep the issue quiet until after a successful mission.
But I donít understand the secrecy around the Harry Potter stamps. I may be wrong. But here is what I think it was about.
The Postmaster General has wanted to issue stamps honoring living persons. In a way, the Harry Potter stamps do depict living people (the actors who portray the various characters). Therefore, the stamps were honoring this fictional series of characters and their story and not the actors.
If the issue had been announced in advance, there may have been an effort to stop this issue. Therefore, the Postmaster General decided that the issue would go out with almost no advance notice. By the time anyone could mount an effort to stop the issue, millions of copies would have been already sold. Trying to stop the issue would be an exercise in futility.