Wait, wasn't he in yesterday's contentious nappy hair post? Just kidding. OK, Sideshow Bob? Anyway, Outliers author and celebrity guest speaker (lol) Malcolm Gladwell has penned a very interesting piece here in The New Yorker titled "Atticus Finch and Limits of Southern Liberalism." Attitus of course is the "hero" of Nell Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. In his critical essay on Mockingbird, he also zeroes in on politician Big Jim Folsom. For many whitefolks, liberalism means some symbolic kindness. A little justice here and there in soap opera good vs. evil matters. Personal cordiality. Ok, plain symbolism. Check him out (including is intriguing study of George Orwell studying Dickens) and check back...
Well, Mr. Gladwell, the world isn't an antiseptic place with an endless parade of bright-line tests to base decisions on. It's full of moral ambiguity and compromise. It may be easy enough in New York to avoid contact with people you've fallen out with, but it's impossible in Maycomb or any other small town. So we make deals, and overlook, and sweep under the rug. We overlook drinking, drug abuse, domestic violence, and the fact that Mr. Ashton is blind and senile and shouldn't be driving any more. It's the way rural society functions.
Some, through a combination of luck and skill and overriding desperation, head for the Big Town. Many of those end up going back home, not so much because they're chicken, but because the hometown hypocrisy stops looking so bad in the face of an endless barrage of smug.
I'm happy for you, Mr. Gladwell, that you've created a life for yourself where your ideals are never tainted by compromise.
Damn. He came not to bury Caesar but to praise him.
I usually suck my teeth at his oversimplifications, or his creation of patterns that juts aren't and thus every "Lumberg" from Office Space thinks he's a genius. Well, maybe he's found something he actually can do well here.
I don't agree with some of this, but I'm impressed.
I read about it some days ago in another blog and the main things that you mention here are very similar
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