The Gospel Truth

A Nation of Blind Watchmen | August 12, 2015

Octogenarian Harper Lee has unleashed a maelstrom of social unrest and intellectual confusion as contentious as the turmoil in the streets of Ferguson with the 55-year delayed release of her “first” book, Go Set a Watchman.

As a work of literature it stands in start contrast to her “second” book, To Kill a Mockingbird, released in 1962. The one is for serious adults while the second is for children. The first is to the second as Shakespeare is to Mary Poppins.

This should not be surprising to her readers. The narrator of To Kill…is Scout a precocious seven or eight year old. She sees things through the eyes of a child, idolizing her dad who was her knight in shinning armor, perfect in every way.   His brave defense of accused rapist, the one-armed Negro Tom Robinson, amidst the abject hatred of his fellow citizens in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s makes him even more of a hero in her eyes.

To Set…is written in the third person though both Atticus and his brother Dr. Jack Finch serves as the voices of adult reason throughout the last half of the book.

Millions of adolescents and many adults have had the same iconic reverence for Atticus Finch ever since.

That’s why Go Tell… has set off such a furor. It was if in the darkest corners of her soul Ms. Lee and her publisher had conspired to undo 50 years of liberal pride and energy.

Her latest publication depicts Atticus, now disabled and in his early seventies as the avatar of racism and white supremacy. Virtually all the early book reviews mischaracterize him as a racist with an hypocritical heart.

 To Set…is arguably the best book I have read in a very long time for its social and historical awareness. It gives clarity and voice to a large portion of this country that has been maligned for over a 100 years.

No Ms. Lee does not defend racial bigotry–a much more accurate and honest term than its bastard cousin, the politically charged racism. It explained how people could hold such prejudicial views in the context of their historical, social and cultural environs.

 Their very use of the word racism, which did not exist until 1933, is an affront, analogous to a loaded gun pointed at the heat of a reasonable discussion. It signals that there is not other side of this issue that can even be mentioned in civilized company.

Racism is a potent weapon of self-righteous indignation that the American left has used for generations to silence debate and eliminate any criticism of their twisted social and racial policies.

To Set…is a broadside across their bow of their pride that hopefully will open up a fair and honest discussion of these issues without rancor or violence.

To Set…is a perfect title for what transpires in the book. She selected it from Isaiah 21:6. In whole it reads: Go Set a Watchman and listen to what he saith. As Atticus’ brother Dr. Jack Finch tells his niece Jean Louise (Scout’s adult name) that verse means to listen to your conscience or moral compass.

Scout’s conscience had been formed first by the Socratic education and aura of intellectual freedom that Atticus promoted at home. Her formative years as a young adult in New York City, the den of liberal change and moral reform completed her compass.

By contrast, Atticus’ Watchman comes from a legal background that was wedded to the moral virtues, not so much the American Revolution but the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

During one of their introspective and heated discussions they unveiled the keys to understanding Southern history as we plod into the 21st century in virtual blindness and ignorance of our past history and deep meaning.

Atticus underscores the “recent” the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka Kansas. This seminal decision legally sought to eliminate centuries of segregation in the South, starting with our schools.

This landmark decision was the proper moral but unfortunately it violated the Bill of Rights, which made it a bad precedent and an unwise decision.

The 10th Amendment, which nobody teaches or understands today, except maybe Bob Dole who carried an index card of it in his pocket for years, is also known as the Reserved Powers amendment.

It stated that any power not specifically delegated to the Federal Government was reserved for the states. Education was the most important of these powers and the Federal government had now taken it upon itself to tell all children to think like it does.

While segregation is blatantly immoral, the proper way to have changed it was through the amendment process. But that takes time and big government likes swift action when it comes to absorbing more power and control.

Another point of note is the tremendous pride Southerners have. They witnessed their entire civilization swept from the board of history during four years of bloody war and 12 years of “Deconstruction” that made them second-class citizens in their own states. And worse was that the North forced their social acceptance of their former slaves on them in such a self-righteous way that their only natural reaction was hatred and eventually violence.

Then the Northern Republicans sacrificed three million blacks on the altar of political expediency, leaving the bewildered, uneducated blacks at the less than tender mercies of the Klan and other hostile bigots.

For several generations after that the Northern Republicans waved the bloody shirt of rebellion, blaming the South for the war and all of its collateral damage. Now the heirs of these “radical Republicans” were waving the bloody chains of slavery in their faces.

Their natural reaction then as it had been after the Civil War was to fight back.

Brown was like a second Reconstruction and Atticus was, not the problem, but tried to be part of a solution— the soft landing of his community and maybe even the whole South in gradually accepting the demise of his cultural heritage and the nation changed.

What Atticus resented most was not that the simple black people he had lived with all of his life had suddenly erected barriers of emotional isolation to the white citizens of Maycomb, as his daughter painfully experiences but the modern carpetbaggers from the North–the NAACP and its horde of eager lawyers, who were ready to force immediate and radical change on a people who spent their lives in languor and slow-moving.

To his credit Atticus decried the violently bigotry of the Klan and other racial groups because he understood only too well what had made them that way.

He was never a racist! He was in fact more than a simply hero!  He was a peacemaker.   But he was also a legal and social realist, who recognized as Abraham Lincoln had in his own time that blacks were not his intellectual, social or even cultural equals.

His daughter was blind to this because as her Uncle Jack tells her, she lacked an understanding heart. She failed to see her dad’s basic humanity>  Because of her idealism she could never think of her father as a person of flesh and blood.

She had blindly judged him and her state by a presentism that failed to see mitigating…not exculpatory circumstances that underscored the truth of a time and culture. Her own conscience had been tainted by the self-righteous promotion of the progressive ideas that emanated from the guillotine and mobs of Paris in the late 18th century.

Her conscience had failed her while Atticus’ made him a three-dimensional human being, unlike the cardboard icon in her childhood.   Her father was not perfect. He was flawed as some of his principles were. But his adherence to his conscience and his ability to admit that all were equal before the law made him unique for his community and his times.

Thomas Paine, one of the forbears of the French Revolution, marched to the battle cry of To Make the World Anew. What Paine meant was to make human beings anew…that is without flaw, prejudice or humanity. That is the impossible liberal dream that has failed in Russia, China, Cuba and wherever man’s free will has been coerced into submission.

Unfortunately too many of the movers and shakers of our liberal society are blind watchmen such as Jean Louise. Just look at Ferguson and all the other similar communities around the nation.

Harper Lee has written a prescient book that is one for the ages. It speaks to all of us whose consciences have been blinded by bigotry, hatred, ideology and selfishness.

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3 Comments »

  1. Well done but the pope would not agree with you.

    Comment by Mark Frances — August 17, 2015 @ 4:41 pm

  2. If this person writes about racists who hold “such prejudicial views” I wouldn’t even bother to read any of that drive. Racism is not about prejudicial views. That’s bigotry. Racism in it’s earliest form of meaning ( and this it’s correct definition ) merely means a theory that race “matters”. It does and there can be no denying it.

    As time has gone on those in academia who cannot brook even the theory that yperson’s race is a significant determinant in the likely outcome of that person’s life have slowly morphed the meaning of the word to be synonymous with bigotry. I have old dictionaries…

    This is an intentional process designed to cut off debate and activity based on the fact race is a serious influence independent of environmental influences. If there’s no more word for the concept it’s not so easily discussed anymore and that’s “the plan”.

    Once upon a time word meanings legitimately changed over time because most people were illiterate and didn’t have the skills to use a dictionary even if they had access to one ( which most did not ). People moving back and forth over borders also caused word meanings to change as different languages which may have had a common basis but where similar-sounding words came to have subtle nuances of difference in meaning occurred.

    But since most people have been literate or in close contact with literate people and anyone could go to a library to peruse a dictionary if they didn’t have one there has been no more excuse for philological “drift”. But because it was known by scholars to exist legitimately in the past how very convenient it’s been for them to pretend that since it did once legitimately exist it must, therefore, continue to exist. So convenient because you can impede certain discussions through it’s clever use.

    And so we had the horror of watching William Shockley ( leader of the team which invented what was probably the most important “creation of matter” in our lifetimes and at the basis of virtually everything else important that’s ensued since ( the simple-to-make cheap ubiquitous unijunction transistor ) debating Frances Cress Wellsing ( occupation from what I could determine: idiot ) on the relationship between race and various behaviors likely to influence the ultimate outcome of any person’s life and to have him start off declaring himself not to be a racist, when in fact that’s precisely what he was. He made that declaration because catachresis had already placed a stigma on the word even back then ( an episode of some television show called Tony Brown’s Journal.

    All Shockley was suggesting was voluntary eugenics where people with certain negative characteristics—like a 75 point intelligence quotient, for instance—–would be offered payment to have themselves sterilized. Shockley believed something he called dysgenics was at work in the Dark Brotherhood of Destruction and dared to actually say so. And it is. You can see from the ferguscum situation that the thug reigns supreme as a sociological iconic hero in that “community” ( the afriCAN’T AmeriCAN’T sub-culture ). Only one year prior to the shooting of the thug by the ferguscum cop a non-thug AA criminal had been poorly used by the turnkey at the ferguscum city jail. In fact since people who are in jail are no more capable of rendering “consent” she was raped by the turnkey in exchange for being let go in a manner where she would not be subject to being taken to every other venue where she had unanswered warrants in exchange for sex acts performed in a boiler room.

    This is tantamount to the storied Tawanda Brawley non-incident which race-hustler Sharpton championed ( and which later turned out to be hogwash ) . So when it really happened where were Sharpton and the other race hustlers? “Reverend” Jheri-curl” was nowhere to be seen.

    But let a legitimate violent bull thug be shot down in the streets and then you’re going to see the race-hustlers and the phony crocodile-tear outrage of that “community”.

    What they love is what they will chuse to lie down with and what they will allow to beget children on them and their womenfolk. So surprise surprise—a community heavily populated with violent thugs. Ergo the dysgenics spoken of so many years ago by bona fide Brainiac Shockley.

    But he couldn’t even use the legitimate non-stigma-bearing word racist to describe himself even then because of the efforts to abuse philological “drift” in order to cut off legitimate discourse that might have taken us in a direction to cure a major sociological problem which was obvious even to Alexis de Tocqueville when he visited us to study us so very long ago.

    So evidently the author of To Kill a Mockingbird was already on-board the express train to national slow-motion train-wreck we’re currently “enjoying”.

    My recommendation: don’t even pay this author any attention or do anything to bring attention to this author. Shun Harper Lee. Simply pretend Harper Lee doesn’t exist. It’s easy–people do it to me all the time.

    Comment by James SteNZel — August 31, 2015 @ 3:10 am

    • Should have been “no more capable of rendering ‘consent’ than a minor child”

      Comment by James SteNZel — August 31, 2015 @ 3:18 am


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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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