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A Sin to Kill a Mockingbird, but it’s OK to kill an Atticus Finch

July 21, 2015

“”Atticus) It strikes me as odd, that critics would laud Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” where the character sides with racism and describe him as “conflicted” and “nuanced” instead of a rough-draft of a previous book she abandoned and went on to write Mockingbird.

And critics defend Lee’s 1957 rough-draft with statements like this:

 “A study in the seeming contradiction that compassion and bigotry can not only reside in the same person but often do, which is what                makes racial bias, as it has mutated through the generations, so hard to address.”

Another  NYT Times article starts out like this:

In 1992, a law professor named Monroe Freedman published an article in Legal Times, a magazine for practitioners. He asserted that Atticus Finch, the iconic hero of Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” ought not be lauded as a role model for attorneys. Freedman noted, however, that Finch did not volunteer to represent Robinson; he did so only upon assignment by the court, saying that he had “hoped to get through life without a case of this kind.”

Again, Freedman missed a key point, while neglecting top mention the judge could have used a court-appointed defender, who would have been inadequate:

A character explains this to Jem:

“We’re so rarely called only to be Christians, but when we are, we got men like Atticus to go for us…,stop eating and start thinking., Jem. Did it ever strike you that Judge Taylor naming Atticus to defend that boy was no accident? That Judge Taylor might have had his reasons for naming him?…I thought, Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step—it’s just a baby step, but it’s a step.”

Academics!

In the book, the NYTR reviewer says:

He defends segregationist propaganda with titles like “The Black Plague.” He derides the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.), especially its lawyers. He rails against the prospect of blacks leaving their “place.” “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and ­churches and theaters?” he asks his daughter, Jean Louise (also known affectionately as Scout). “Do you want them in our world?” He veers between expressing condescension — “Honey, you do not seem to understand that the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people” — and expressing contempt: “Can you blame the South for wanting to resist an invasion by people who are apparently so ashamed of their race they want to get rid of it?”

 

Man, how come not one reviewer quoted this statement by Atticus?:

“As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black man every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it—whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”

Remember the scene where Atticus loses the case? He is alone in the courtroom. Then, Scout, who is sitting in the upper balcony with the blacks Scout realizes:

“The Negroes were getting to their feet. Reverend Syke’s voice was as distant as Judge Taylor’s:
“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.”

I’ll take that scene over the memory of the black students at Howard University cheering the OJ verdict.

Were those celebrating college students conflicted? Showing a dark side or a white side?

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