The Best Defense of Atticus Finch Comes from a Lawyer Who Became a Lawyer Because of Atticus Finch
Call it the circle of law.
As soon as I heard the news about “Go Set a Watchman,” I wondered about all of those lawyers who became lawyers because of the example of Atticus Finch. So in my day job, we set about interviewing some of them about the revelations of Atticus' paternalistic racism in Harper Lee's new (and suspect) novel, “Go Set a Watchman.”
The best response so far comes form antitrust attorney Allan Van Fleet of Texas, who told us:
Just taking it at absolute face value that Atticus, at the time of To Kill a Mockingbird, was a racist underneath it all, I'm going to put it out there that in some ways that makes him more heroic.
If he was just innately a good person and he stood up and did what he knew was right, there it was; there are great people in the world who do things like that. But if there was ... prejudice in his heart, then in some ways he's more heroic to overcome that.
This might be the most beautiful part:
The other thing I think is especially important: he taught a very different message to his children. ... One can teach one's children to think and act differently from one's own generation.