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"Are you out of your mind?" demanded Harry. "A plot to get this house? Are you actually as stupid as you look?"

"Don't you dare -?" squealed Aunt Petunia, but again, Vernon waved her down: slights on his personal appearance were, it seemed, as nothing to the danger he had spotted.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

What does the part in bold mean exactly? I think it draws a comparison. I'm also wondering why 'as' is used. Can we remove it? "slights on his personal appearance were nothing to the danger he had spotted" seems fine to me.

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The sentence can be taken to mean

criticism of his personal appearance were, apparently, not important compared to the danger he had spotted

There is a previous question on ELL which touches on the use of "as nothing"

You can leave the "as" out without changing the meaning, but "as nothing" is idiomatic English and gives slight emphasis to the comparison.

"as nothing" = "really nothing [insignificant] compared to"

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