Racism

New Harper Lee Book Has Parents Reconsidering the Wisdom of Naming a Kid 'Atticus'

The Times has scooped The Onion.

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You named your son what?
Universal Pictures

When word emerged that the Atticus Finch of Go Set a Watchman, unlike the Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird, is a fiercely bigoted defender of segregation, The Guardian's Hadley Freeman expressed some sympathy for "any hipster parents out there who named their son Atticus." When I first read that line I thought it was just a joke, but The New York Times tells me otherwise:

Fans of "Mockingbird" have been crestfallen and disbelieving that their hero could be so changed, but perhaps no group more so than those who chose that name for their children.

"When we first heard about the book, my wife said, 'Oh no, I hope Atticus didn't turn bad or something,'" said Christopher Campbell, the father of 3-year-old Atticus Campbell, who was born shortly after his parents moved to the Atlanta area from New York City. "We actually had that discussion. It was almost a joke."

Over the past couple of years, Mr. Campbell said, he and his wife, Jennifer, have watched with some dismay as the name Atticus became increasingly common. Indeed, according to the Social Security Administration, which tracks baby names in the United States, the name was more popular last year than it had ever been.

In 2004, Atticus made its first appearance on an annual list of the 1,000 most common names, which stretches back to 1880. By 2014, it had flown up the list, ranking as the 370th most common boy's name in the country, sandwiched between Enzo and Kash.

My thoughts:

Atticus! Atticus! Atticus!
Warner Bros.

1. Wasn't Enzo and Kash a Kurt Russell movie? No? OK, never mind.

2. I haven't read Go Set a Watchman, but by most accounts it's more interesting as an artifact than as art—an uneven early story that later evolved into a beloved book. Once the dust has settled, I suspect it will be a boon for Harper Lee scholars and a novelty for everyone else. The chances it will have a strong effect on how most people react to the name "Atticus Finch" are only slightly higher than the chances that Peter Jackson will try to turn Tolkien's Unfinished Tales into a blockbuster fantasy film.

3. Here's the hipster parents' bigger problem: The Atticus Finch of Mockingbird is one of the most famous father figures in American literature. He is sober, wise, dignified, and about as wild as Margaret Dumont. Short of naming your kid after a porn star, I cannot think of a less appropriate thing to call a toddler. "Attica" I can see. Not "Atticus."

Bonus link #1: I predicted a Mockingbird sequel where Atticus turns racist way back in 1996. The piece also includes a bit about Jim Carrey wanting to be "taken seriously as an actor," and that joke came true too. Who knows what other prophecies are embedded in it?

Bonus link #2: Also in the Times, Randall Kennedy suggests that while Watchman "does not represent Harper Lee's best work, it does reveal more starkly the complexity of Atticus Finch, her most admired character. 'Go Set a Watchman' demands that its readers abandon the immature sentimentality ingrained by middle school lessons about the nobility of the white savior and the mesmerizing performance of Gregory Peck in the film adaptation of 'To Kill a Mockingbird.'"

Like I said, I haven't read Watchman. But I can't disagree with Kennedy's broader point. Has Hollywood ever produced a white-savior fantasy as grating as this scene?

Bonus link #3: Despite the title the YouTube uploader gave it, I don't think this sketch from The Richard Pryor Show was intended as a direct parody of To Kill a Mockingbird. The plot points are pretty different, and on the DVD it's just called "Southern Justice." But I'm gonna throw it in anyway:

NEXT: WTF: British Police Tweet Image of Comedian, Ask Followers to ID Him for a Larf

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  1. I half-wondered if it was a stunt to ingrain the prejudice that “see, all white people really are racist.”

  2. I look forward to a V.C. Andrews followup, Flowers in the Atticus.

    1. Scout and Jem have sex?

      *Jacks furiously*

  3. I thought that Atticus Finch’s racism was pretty well known. I remember reading a take-down ten years ago citing his actions in to Kill a Mockingbird.

  4. OOOPSY!

    I guess I had better NOT name my next kid “Hussein Barack” after all… He might turn up in the next fiction novel as being a power-mad slave of ever-bigger and ever-bigger Government Almighty!

    DOUBLE-OOOPSY, the real one is already that to start with!

    Just say NO to new kiddo named “Hussein Barack SQRLSY One”!!!!

    1. If you name your son anything other than Caitlyn or Hillary it proves you are a gender traitor rape apologist.

    2. I inadvertently named my son Tom Robinson (the accused rapist from Mockingbird). Didn’t make the connection for some time having not read the book since high school.

      1. Just don’t go telling him that he needs to live up to his name, is all.

  5. Fans of “Mockingbird” have been crestfallen and disbelieving that their hero could be so changed, but perhaps no group more so than those who chose that name for their children.

    Sigh. No on has changed. It’s a different freaking character.

    Here’s the hipster parents’ bigger problem: The Atticus Finch of Mockingbird is one of the most famous father figures in American literature. He is sober, wise, dignified, and about as wild as Margaret Dumont. Short of naming your kid after a porn star, I cannot think of a less appropriate thing to call a toddler.

    This. I know someone who has a son named Atticus and…yeah.

    1. Jesse is aware that some toddlers grow into adults eventually, right?

      1. Jesse is aware that some toddlers grow into adults eventually, right?

        I’m hoping mine makes it!

      2. After spending years with the douchiest name on earth? Unlikely.

        1. That is not the parents’ problem Nikki. The kids are just trophies to show off to their prog friends. In fact, the kid turning out fucked up is a bonus to these kind of people. Having a child who is in rehab is third down the list in hipster parent street creed trailing only having a gay child or a “transgendered” child. Having a fucked up kid in rehab is just an opportunity for his parents to show how understanding and tolerant they are. It is just slightly better than having one of them convert to Islam but not as awesome as them being gay or wanting a sex change. Nothing gives a parent the opportunity to social signal like that. And for these people, it is forever all about them.

          1. Yup, the hatred of things universally loved extends all the way to their own children. All the fairy tales about wicked stepmothers and leaving your kids in the woods were just bizarre fables until my hipster friends and relatives grew up and had kids of their own. Even some of the Goth families are appalled.

            1. They are as a group some of the most judgmental and least accepting people on earth. That combined with unbelievable narcissism is a terrible combination for a parent. The kids are nothing but badges or tools for their parents to social signal with.

              Funny you mention Goths. Some of the most loving two parent families I have known have been Goths or biker types. Some of those types seem to be genuinely good people who found a subculture they fit into rather than narcissistic posers.

          2. I’m sure such people exist, but I’ve never encountered any. The only lefty hyper-parents I know would be utterly horrified to have their kid in rehab. I think having a kid who does well in school and stuff is still the more common badge of parenting awesomeness.

            1. They would act horrified but it would be part of the larger morality play of them showing how wonderful and tolerant they are. The welfare of the kid would be secondary.

            2. The only lefty hyper-parents I know would be utterly horrified to have their kid in rehab. I think having a kid who does well in school and stuff is still the more common badge of parenting awesomeness.

              First, you can fit way more than one badge on a kid.

              Second, I disagree. A kid who does well in school still carries weight, but not nearly as much. Denying your kids peanut butter while claiming gluten causes them to suffer ADHD (which they got from you) and getting them into special ed classes trumps plain ole ‘doing well’ any day of the week.

              1. I don’t think you can simplify this that much. Do parents use social signalling in how they raise their kids? Of course. For many, it is the most substantial work of art they will create. You invest a huge portion of your life in these kids, and so it is only natural to have some of your self worth wrapped up in their lives. Part of growing up- even as a parent- is learning to see children as their own entity.

                Do I feel better when someone comments on how my kid stood up against some bullies picking on another kid? Yeah. Do I feel mortified when someone points out that my kid broke something? Absolutely. I don’t think there is anything wrong in seeing your kids acts as a reflection on you. So to me, the problem is not that these parents feel successful about what their kids do. No the problem is that those parents have some fucked up priorities measuring success.

                And count me in as one of those “hipsters” who named his kids an offbeat name. We tell them stories about the people they are named after (one a greek hero and her late grandmother, another a great scientist and thinker as well as a great general, and the other a strong female sci-fi character and another grandmother). Our hope is that they will internalize some of those values, but we also understand that they will ultimately be their own person that defines these names in a unique way.

              2. I don’t think it does. But maybe I am fortunate enough not to be exposed to the worst of it. I think it is less that having a kid with adhd or some allergy is something they would want. But if the kid does have some academic or physical deficiency they can still use that to show how special they are. It excuses the parents if there is some diagnosis, but it still sucks to have a kid with a problem like that.

                Maybe I am just blissfully ignorant of how fucked people are, but I’m sticking with it. I can’t go through life being that annoyed by everyone all the time. The truth just isn’t worth the aggravation some times.

                1. Plausibility test.

                  Just under 20% of my son’s middle school cohort are on some kind of special class plan (i.e basically a medical professional has seen fit to diagnose *something* wrong in the kid’s developmental profile). About half of them have a full BIP (Behavioral Intervention Plan) which is pretty much de rigeur for ADHD kids.

                  Does it sound plausible that 10% of middleschoolers have ADHD (predominantly boys – blame the patriarchy).

                  Nope. Parents in this affluent Connecticut neighborhood share strategies for getting their kids on these programs because the kids are scored easier, have reduced risk of punishment if they ‘misbehave’, and (based on teacher discretion) they get far less homework. Add that to the bragging rights with “Trip was such a challenge as a kid, but you know, with work by all of us (smug grin) we managed to buy him into Harvard so he can get a really good education”.

                  You have to see it to believe it really. And sometimes, even then.

                  1. People always figure out how to game the system.

                    1. They do, when there’s an incentive to do so. And the incentives – tangible and intangible – are great.

          3. That is not the parents’ problem Nikki.

            The parents’ problem is they have shitty taste in literature.

        2. It’s just a name. I can think of way douchier names. Like all those trendy first names that sound like last names.

          1. I’d still rather be named Atticus than something like Tarquin.

            1. Sure, plain Tarquin is weak. But Tarquinius Superbus? That’s great.

              1. Being named Tarquin Superbus would just invite a bathroom beatdown, wouldn’t it?

                1. No, rather the reverse. Of course, one should use the baddest name, Charles Martel, for one’s strongest boy-child.

                  1. I wanted to name my son Timur, but of course my wife said no.

                2. The parents could be operating on the “boy names Sue” principle.

            2. This is the kind of Tarquin I was thinking about.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4usAhEvMKZ4

              SFW – no, really!

      3. Indeed. Few things frustrate me more than when people don’t seem to understand they are naming and raising future adults, not children.

    2. What’s his nickname? “Mocky”?

    3. What, naming a girl after that famous libertarian actress, Belle Knox, is out of the question now?

      1. As long as you don’t ask her if her mother knows what she does for a living. *That’s* beyond the pale.

    4. Sheesh. Next you’re gonna say I’m wrong to name my daughter Khaleesi.

  6. OT: Yellen urges Congress to be wary of Fed reforms

    TRIGGER WARNING: Audio auto start

    “Efforts to further increase transparency, no matter how well intentioned, must avoid unintended consequences that could undermine the Federal Reserve’s ability to make policy in the long-run best interest of American families and businesses,” she said.

    WTF are these people hiding? Audit the Fed!

  7. I think that the hipsters who give Atticus as a name end up using a nickname until the child is older. Not any sillier than a lot of names, WASP or otherwise. (Danforth as Dan, etc.)

    I don’t know if the new book is any good, but it’s certainly true that the actual South from the 1880s to 1950s was full of progressives who were nicer or more genteel about race but still fundamentally believed in inequality, that black people weren’t ready for rights, and that having white progressives in charge was better for them. They were better on race than the race baiters, but still by modern eyes and even 60s eyes look terrible. Folks like Charles Kuralt’s father, Big Jim Folsom in Alabama, Governor Aycock in North Carolina, etc. Sometimes the better on race folks were the upper class conservatives like in Mississippi, where the lower class loved Vardaman and Bilbo. Atticus as in the new book represents an actual type of person who existed, probably more realistic than the idealized version.

    1. For a moment I thought you were saying Charles Kuralt’s father was Big Jim Folsom, and I thought to myself, “That couldn’t be right…could it?”

      1. Nah, Charles Kuralt’s father was a eugenicist (who had moved to Charlotte from up North) who sterilized a bunch of women without their real consent for such offenses as having interracial sex (which was proof of their feeblemindedness.) All for their own good, he sincerely thought.

    2. I don’t know if the new book is any good, but it’s certainly true that the actual South from the 1880s to 1950s was full of progressives who were nicer or more genteel about race but still fundamentally believed in inequality, that black people weren’t ready for rights, and that having white progressives in charge was better for them.

      Weird how the actual South from the 1880s to the 1950s sounds like the entire Country for all of our history.

      1. Folks is folks, all throughout this world.

      2. The only thing more tiresome than the people who constantly deride the South and think southerners are all dumb racist rednecks are the people who have to point out that other people are racist too whenever anyone says anything about racism and the south.

        1. Well in their defense there seems to be more of the former than the latter, as tiresome as both are.

          1. And I do my best to correct the people who go around talking about how horrible the south is too. But around here, that is less common.

        2. Your tiresome gauge is broken. I suggest you pick up a new one from Amazon today.

          1. OK, the universal declaration of tiresomeness was too much. I’m sure i could think of some more tiresome things. I’ll just say they are both very tiresome.

            1. Your mom is tiresome. Tell her to stop calling me.

              1. That sounds like your problem.

      3. Weird how the actual South from the 1880s to the 1950s sounds like the entire Northeast for all of our history. The socialist German immigrants ruined the Midwest.

    3. There is a whole tradition of guilty southern white men bearing the burden of taking care of the lesser races through progressive politics.

      1. My mother has an early childhood memory of an elegant Southern gentleman in a white suit patiently explaining to her that it was terrible that the Negroes were treated so terribly under the law, but since they weren’t as intelligent as whites, it would be a disaster for them if they were, and segregation was in everyone’s best interests. I doubt he was atypical. Human nature suggests that few Jim Crow supporters were motivated by outright hate.

        1. They were mostly not. The people they hated most were the Northern agitators and the black leadership that the segregationists saw as communists and dupes to the northern agitators. The truth is more complex and interesting than the cartoon version the media feeds us.

          Not that that excuses the segregationists. It doesn’t.

        2. Given the way white men are treated by progressives, it appears that progressives believe this whol-heartedly. Why else would they be held to a stricter standard?

    4. Not any sillier than a lot of names, WASP or otherwise

      I remember what it was most common to name your kids after older relatives. Now many of them stick kids with weird names just for signalling. It’s gross.

      1. Yeah, there have been 7 men named Benjamin(including middle names) in the last 4 generations of my family.

      2. I remember what it was most common to name your kids after older relatives. Now many of them stick kids with weird names just for signalling. It’s gross.

        I’ve come around 180 on this one. I used to be all about using traditional family names, but now I don’t mind branching out. Does my kid need to be the 45th James or 38th Katie in their class? Now, I think that just making a name up is a little too extravagant for my tastes, but I don’t mind reaching back into history to find a name that hasn’t been super popular over the last 50 years.

        “Atticus” doesn’t bother me per se, but this pearl clenching over whether it was a bad choice to name your child something based on a stupid book is downright laughable. A name is a name, nothing more, nothing less.

      3. When I used to dabble in geneology, one branch of my grandmother’s family was absolute hell to try to trace because they all lived in the same place for generations (Orangeburg SC) and they kept using the same damned names over and over and over again. Benjamin, Isaac, Charles, Jacob ad inifinitum.

  8. That book while well written is so dated. It is one of those books that while very important at the time it was written was quickly surpassed by events. It is to race relations what Tom Clancy novels are to the Cold War, a great take on a subject matter just a few years before it changed completely. The book remains popular and reverent today because Progressives have transformed it from a commentary on 1950s Alabama into a fantasy confirmation of everything Progressives want to believe about their political enemies.

    1. Speaking of Clancy I wish someone would have made a Red Storm Rising movie.

      1. Me too. God that is a kick ass book. It is not deep or anything. It is just pure entertainment.

        Instead of a movie, I would rather see HBO or someone take it on as a mini series. There is too much going on in that book to fit into even a three hour movie. It would make a really kick ass miniseries.

        1. I agree with a mini-series. Just dealing with the Trans-Atlantic convoys would take a couple of hours.

        2. I just re-read it and it is thrilling. Other than The Hunt for Red October, neither one of them have written anything that comes near to Red Storm Rising.

        3. A mini-series would work – not so much a movie. Its the difference between the ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ miniseries with Alec Guiness and the movie with Gary Oldman – the book covers a huuge amount of detail and background that could be explored in the mini-series but had to be brutally pared down to essentials in the movie.

    2. In all my years of AP English in high school, I was never assigned that book. So I never read it. But just about every other student was assigned it. Guess I lived in a time when AP meant “Avoiding Progressivism” because today the AP courses are usually “Absolute Progressivism”.

  9. But… but… wasn’t Atticus a name before the character in the novel? Perhaps even some sort of semi-famous Roman guy or something?

    (checks Wikipedia)

    Yes, yes it was:
    Atticus, Christian martyr, one of Agapius, Atticus, Carterius, Styriacus, Tobias, Eudoxius, Nictopolion, and Companions (d. 310)
    Atticus (philosopher) (fl. c. 175), Platonist philosopher and author of lost Plato commentary
    Archbishop Atticus of Constantinople (406?425)
    Herodes Atticus (c. 101?177), a Greek rhetorician
    Titus Pomponius Atticus (112/109?35/32 BC), ancient Roman litt?rateur, philosopher, and correspondent with Cicero
    Atticus, character in Cicero’s De Legibus

    1. I think your nuanced historical interpretation is racist.

    2. You know what jumps out at me? Those are all white dudes. RACIST

    3. If you tell a Proggie that Atticus was a Christian, they’ll probably try to get their kid’s name changed.

  10. I suppose this will be used as an excuse to get rid the rape denying first book in highschool lit.

    1. We can replace it with some good ole fashioned postcolonial lit.

      Never too early to begin killing a child’s love for literature by infusing it with progressive politics.

  11. The biggest shocker here is that Harper Lee is still alive.

  12. Atticus Finch = Adam Lanza

  13. To Kill A Mockingbird is read by the lazy as a comfortable morality play. Atticus Finch is the avatar of good upright Yankee liberals and he stands up against the pure evil of the South. Thus the discomfort the new book causes to the lazy.

    1. That is a very good point. Finch is more concerned with the rule of law. There isn’t anything in the book that indicates he has any love for his client or for black people. His cause is standing up to the mob not racial equality. Harper Lee grew up in Alabama. She certainly knew and understood how people there thought. The idea that even the most dedicated white DA in 1950s Alabama would view blacks as equal would, I bet, give her a good laugh.

      Lee never talks publicly about the book. When you look at this sequel you start to understand why. It isn’t just her shyness about publicity, though I am sure that is part of it. It is also her not wanting to shatter the delusions of her lazy readers and explain that Fitch is not what they think he is.

      1. See my comment below. that was my first thought on hearing about the new book and people’s surprise about the Atticus character. His actions in mocking bird don’t demonstrate that he is anti-racist. Just that he values rule of law and due process. He may well also adhere to the principle that states can have segregation if they so choose.

        1. I have little doubt that the idea of a white middle class professional in 1950s Alabama thinking of blacks as fully equals and being okay with things like a black family moving in next door or one of his children dating a black person would strike Lee as absurd.

        2. Of course, even viewing him as an out-and-out racist, he still treats his client like a human being with all of the legal rights that go with it. Not quite the current vision of the racist.

          1. Which makes him even worse in a prog’s eyes. Racists must all be mustache twirling evil villains or spittle spewing rage monsters. This whole shades of grey thing doesn’t work well with the whole ‘Burn The Witch!’ thing they’ve got going on for wrong think.

            1. You can only dodge reality for so long.

      2. When you look at this sequel you start to understand why. It isn’t just her shyness about publicity, though I am sure that is part of it. It is also her not wanting to shatter the delusions of her lazy readers and explain that Fitch is not what they think he is.

        This isn’t a sequel. It is effectively the first draft of TKaM. Nothing about the Atticus Finch from TKaM has changed. This is a different character from an earlier novel who shares the same name and some biographical characteristics, but not all. Lee completely reworked Atticus in the original published book.

        1. Okay. But I don’t see any reason why that means Finch is what her readers seem to think he is.

          1. Most people seem to focus more on the movie’s Atticus rather than the book’s Atticus. They are quite different.

      3. The idea that even the most dedicated white DA in 1950s Alabama would view blacks as equal would, I bet, give her a good laugh.

        But she did make good coin on proggies taking it that way and assigning it as brainwashing material.

    2. Gee whiz. I always interpreted him as a lawyer just being an ethical lawyer.

      Atticus Finch (to my recollection, I read the book 13 years ago) didn’t do anything a lawyer who takes his ethical requirements seriously wouldn’t do.

  14. To Kill a Mockingbird is a pretty good book.

    1. Beyond sarcastic. Try again.

    2. Someone who doesn’t appreciate Eliot would say that.

      1. Hugh’s actually worse than you. We’re just sexists around here.

  15. That Richard Pryor Show skit was not funny. It was the Seventies, so I guess if you were high on weed, coke, ludes, and booze it was funny?

    1. nah. It is just really hard to do a weekly show and always be funny.

      1. Maybe the writers should have tried shorter skits. This was a 12+ minute sketch that went nowhere. The writers were probably hoping that Robin Williams and Pryor would improv some dialogue in their “closing arguments” and that just never materialized. It just fell flat.

        1. I imagine so. That is the thing about improv, even when real geniuses like Pryor and Williams are doing it, it still misses more than it hits. It is like the original SNL. As brilliant as it was, and it was brilliant, most of the skits were not that funny. We only remember the really funny ones. That is not because the cast and the writers were not great. They were. It is because comedy is just that hard to do.

          1. For the most part, even the funny ones ran on too long. Just like Monty Python in many ways, the cast could never resist bludgeoning a funny line to death.

          2. Yeah, even when it was supposedly good, most of the skits fail to be very funny when you watch old SNL episodes.

          3. Part of it is that you aren’t allowed to do a 72 minute TV show. Or a 7 minute TV newscast. So you gets lots of filler.

            SNL grew out of the National Lampoon Radio Hour. That show cut itself in half to 30 minutes because they ate through material so fast. And the radio show had a hell of a lot more contributors, something the unions wouldn’t let them get away with on TV.

    2. Honestly, I never thought Richard Pryor was that funny. His movies were hilarious, but his standup act seemed to center around ” ooh look, I said a dirty word.” Now Red Foxx OTOH, fucking hilarious.

      1. Go on Itunes and download “Is It Something I Said” or watch “Live on the Sunset Strip” sometime and your opinion will change. His stand up was amazing.

  16. I don’t see anything wrong with the name “Atticus”. You people read way too much into these things.

    My thought when I first heard people talking about how could Atticus be so racist in the new book was to point out that Atticus was someone who acted on principle and it may well be perfectly consistent of him to believe that all people, regardless of race, deserve equal treatment and due process in a trial, and to believe that states have the right/power to implement segregation and that the federal government should not interfere.

    I have only heard brief excerpts of the new book and it has bee a long time since i read Mockingbird, so I could be forgetting/missing some things. But it really doesn’t seem so inconsistent that the same character could strongly believe in both of those principles.

    1. Exactly Zeb. Just because Fitch believed in the rule of law and didn’t want to see an innocent person hung by the mob doesn’t mean he couldn’t also have been a racist.

      As I say above, Lee never talks publicly about the book. Looking at the unpublished sequel it is pretty obvious why.

    2. God forbid you have a modicum of historical literacy and name your kid after one of these guys rather than a character from a required reading source in high school.

    3. But it really doesn’t seem so inconsistent that the same character could strongly believe in both of those principles.

      It’s not the same character. It’s two different characters with the same name.

      1. This has been my understanding, though I haven’t read any of the released material. If so, it’s much ado about nothing. If not, it’s much ado about very little. Even if Finch were a total bigot, what he did remains heroic. In some ways, maybe even more so, as it’s easy to do the right thing when you approve of everything.

      2. Yes, I get that. But even thinking of it as the same person, which many people will do, it isn’t necessarily some huge incongruence if you are capable of understanding that some people actually adhere to principles of law and justice.

        1. No, it’s not, but it still doesn’t make sense (and will be difficult to make sense of). For example, in Go Set a Watchman, the rape trial Atticus defends Robinson in ends in acquittal.

          1. Like I said, I’ve only seen brief excerpts of the new book. I don’t know how the plots disagree.

          2. I don’t like Han Solo anymore, because I heard he shot first.

    4. I suspect that no small part of the entire shock is taking the matter out of context. I suspect in the South of that time, it was pretty easy to be a casual racist. You weren’t likely to encounter much challenge to the assumption of white superiority. It was a common assumption. As a result, I can easily enough imagine an otherwise decent person of that time and place holding ideas that would strike us as shockingly racist without really bearing much antipathy to black people.

      1. Yeah, it’s almost like wondering how people could ever believe that the earth was flat or was at the center of the universe.

  17. So Atticus Finch is dethroned as a “:good white man” who exhibited integrity and espoused values that were not popular at the time. It is entirely possible that a character can have both desirable traits and still be imperfectly mired in his time and environment; in other words, no one is totally “good” [whatever you might mean by that] and can do both admirable and mundane or less than desirable things. It’s what most of us do, or don’t, as the case may be.

    My father was a police captain in the deep South of those times; while he was indeed a segregationist in every sense of the word [separate, maybe equal if there was enough to go around…],but he would still advocate for someone [white or black] whom he knew to be innocent or had been misjudged. It just meant he was a normal human being whose values were the result of his upbringing and environment, bu the balance a “good” man who followed his conscience.

    1. It is entirely possible that a character can have both desirable traits and still be imperfectly mired in his time and environment;

      It is not just possible, it is a certainty assuming the character is real or the author is even trying to make him seem such. The problem here is that in addition to being lazy as Warty points out above, these people are simple minded and have no understanding of human character. They see people as cardboard cuts out of good or evil not as they are. The are incapable of understanding the nuances and complexity of human behavior and character. They think in simple platitudes like “racists are bad” and so forth. They are thus incapable of reconciling their former love of the character with him having any bad traits let alone the trait they see as the worst possible trait of all, the dreaded RACISM.

      1. I don’t know, racism is a pretty horrible trait. It’s difficult, as a modern person, to really understand on an emotional level how otherwise intelligent and level headed people could have had racist beliefs in the not so distant past.

        1. I don’t find it difficult at all. I have seen it. I saw it in older relatives of mine and I saw it in the middle east. I met people in the Middle East who were by any objective measure the most appalling anti-Semites and were at the same time some of the most generous and kind people I have ever known.

          1. I think that racism driven by religious fanaticism (or belief, if you prefer) is much easier to comprehend than racism driven by a more general culture that no longer really exists.

        2. You think racism is a horrible trait because you are entirely conditioned by your times. If you lived in Victorian England you’d think fornication was terrible. Racism is in 90 percent of cases a thought crime. It’s amazing to me that libertarians can consider possession of child pornography and drunk driving “thought crimes”, but see racism as completely defining of someone’s character.

          1. You think racism is a horrible trait because you are entirely conditioned by your times.

            I was going to post exactly that.

            Not liking someone based on the color of their skin is bad, but hating them for their religion is a-OK. Of course, a Progressive will deny it and say they respect all religions except Christianity.

          2. So you’re saying that racism is to current times what fornication was to Victorian England? Something that should be perfectly acceptable but is wrongly considered terrible by society? I’d have to disagree. Victorian views on fornication were just stupid. I’m glad that the Western world, however, has evolved to a more enlightened view on racism.

            1. What was stupid about them? Again I know you think they are stupid because you gobble up pop culture and main stream media messaging that says exactly that.

              Victorian sexual mores were in fact a pretty rational if perhaps overcorrected response the the horrifying rise of veneral disease and bastardt of the Georgian Era. They were in fact the opposite of stupid. But of course you don’t know anything about that. Racism bad sex good. Except of course you don’t know any black people or have much sex so these are all abstractions to you. And in Victorian times you’d have been all in on scientific racism and the enlightened values of eugenics.

              1. They were stupid because sex is fun. There’s nothing fun about racism, dipshit.

        3. It probably means that your comprehension of the word is simplistic.

          If you were working on an emotional level, you’d acknowledge that the reason people stereotype is because it’s an evolutionary tool to protect you from unfamiliar cultures and tribes. And humans are tribal creatures. There’s nothing ‘illogical’ about being more cautious about

          The issue is that in order to be a civilized person, you have a social responsibility to control your emotional responses and behave in a civilized manner in order to interact with other individuals doing the same thing.

          Racism is real, and to a greater or lesser degree, we’re all potentially subject to basic behavioral impulses. We can seek to acknowledge them and suppress them, we can seek to rationalize them, we can even embrace them (and be condemned by society for embracing them).

          Oh no, they cry, we’re not *RACISTS*!

          Fact is that under the right (wrong?) circumstances we’re ALL capable of it; whether you’re ‘intelligent’ and/or ‘level headed’ has nothing to do with it. It’s easy to sublimate dislike of ‘the other’ when you live in a relatively benign, affluent society – indeed, it is crass and impolite to be ‘racist’, but believing that everyone else is a racist other than yourself – is self-delusional.

          And that’s where the American Left is situated at the moment. They’re too busy ‘signalling’ to each other that they’re tolerant and egalitarian, when it simply isn’t so.

          1. ^^THIS^^

            For whatever reason, people naturally fear and dislike people who are different from them. Yes, we have free wills and reason and can and should be expected to overcome that. It is however how people are and their failure to overcome it does not mean they are not virtuous in other ways.

          2. The evolutionary aspect is interesting as applied to race. When humans were evolving those traits, the potentially hostile tribes would generally have been of the same race, or at least the same skin color. SO it would appear to make more sense to say that xenophobia rather than racism is likely an inherent trait that humans have. Different languages, cultures, etc. are the scary thing. Though I suppose that someone with different skin tone might trigger the “different from me” reaction on some basic level.
            Whatever it is, the current drive to seek out and destroy every little bit of racism or bigotry is both enormously hypocritical and counterproductive, it seems to me.

            1. Whatever it is, the current drive to seek out and destroy every little bit of racism or bigotry is both enormously hypocritical and counterproductive, it seems to me.

              I find this point to be enormously nuanced, racist, and… tiresome.

        4. It’s difficult, as a modern person, to really understand on an emotional level how otherwise intelligent and level headed people could have had racist beliefs in the not so distant past.

          Not really, at least for me. Being a racist in the pre-civil-rights South was a lot “cheaper” a proposition than it is today. It was a common assumption and really didn’t take a lot of commitment to believing. One could believe in white superiority without really having much antipathy to black people.

          1. Some day people will wonder how anyone believed in Global Warming. And the answer will be the same one you give here. It is hard to swim against popular opinion and easy to go along. Running around saying black people were equal to whites was not a way to win friends and influence people in the Jim Crow South. For that reason alone very few people did it.

          2. One could believe in white superiority without really having much antipathy to black people.

            It was just yesteryear’s progressivism.

            Today every progressive believes in their intellectual superiority without having much antipathy for the pig-ignorance of their barista.

  18. God created Atticus to train the faithful.

    1. +1 Crysknife.

      1. Apropo to this thread, Siona was on the short list for my youngest daughter. Sadly my wife used her veto.

  19. “Atticus Kylee Tubman Mandela Dalai Llama Turnipseed, you come over here this instant, your dinner’s getting cold! Don’t make me say your name again!”

  20. Anyway, I saw the Watchmen movie, I think Harper Lee hit that one out of the park. Much better than that lame Kill-a-Mockingbird crap.

    1. Her Rorshach character was awesome, far better than Boo Radley.

  21. The chances it will have a strong effect on how most people react to the name “Atticus Finch” are only slightly higher than the chances that Peter Jackson will try to turn Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales into a blockbuster fantasy film.

    So, guaranteed then?

    You don’t think that any studio, ever, would leave money on the table, do you?

    1. I’d kind of like to see a movie on the fall of Gondolin. That could be pretty awesome. There are some great stories in there, just not very well fleshed out.

      1. The Silmarillion could serve as the basis for a TV series. It’s written in, basically, plot form, so there’s lots of room to be creative. Of course, most such things get totally fucked up, so be careful what you wish for.

  22. If you’re not naming you kid after Deadwood characters there is no hope for you.

  23. Actually, the bigger problem with him is that he defends an accused rapist.

    According to modern leftists, merely being accused of rape means you are guilty and anyone defending him is even worse.

  24. Atticus Finch of Mockingbird was a rape denialist.

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