That’s the thing that always bugged me about JK Rowling being so down on people who like him. First of all, liking a character has nothing to do with condoning his behavior. This isn’t a contest of morality, where the nicest character wins all the fans. Second of all, why shouldn’t Draco get some sympathy? He was raised by a Death Eater and pureblood extremists. He was still a child when he became a Death Eater. Exactly what choice was he supposed to make? He thought he was following in good old Daddy’s footsteps. Did you think he could just spontaneously wake up to how wrong his world is when he was raised to believe he was right? Even Sirius never fully woke up from that, and he never even got along with his family. Draco did. Draco loved his family, adored them, revered them. None of the teachers took him in hand and tried to explain to him other ways to think about the world. He never had much of a choice.
And when Dumbledore finally gave him one at the end of HBP? He lowered his goddamn wand. And when Harry Potter and friends were taken to Malfoy Manor? He didn’t identify Harry Potter. When actually presented with real choices that matter, he makes the right choice. No, he’s not going to get canonized as a saint any time soon, and yes, he’s a spectacular ass, but how could he be any better than he was? He was a child swept up again and again in the world of shit his parents (more specifically his father) put him in. This does not excuse his behavior, especially his bullying, or make it okay, but his bad behavior was never about his own wrong choices, but more his father’s.
“I swear when I grow up, I won’t just buy you a rose.
I will buy the flower shop, and you will never be lonely.
Even if the sun stops waking up over the fields
I will not leave, I will not leave ‘till it’s our time.
So just take my hand, you know that I will never leave your side.”