America’s children need an Atticus Finch to protect them!
“How shall Integrity face Oppression? What shall Honesty do in the face of Deception, Decency in the face of Insult…?… What shall Virtue do to meet Brute Force? There are so many answers and so contradictory; and such differences for those on the one hand who meet questions similar to this once a year or once a decade, and those who face them hourly and daily.” — W.E.B. Du Bois
Just as the brain detects patterns in the visual forms of nature — a face, a figure, a flower — and in sound, so too it detects patterns in information. Stories are recognizable patterns, and in those patterns we find meaning. We use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others. Stories are the signal within the noise.
In 1963, the year of the the Birmingham civil rights marches, I was twelve years old, just a year or two younger than most of the children killed last week in Broward County Florida.
Above this picture of the Broward county victims is a picture of a 17-year-old Civil Rights demonstrator being attacked by a police dog in Birmingham, Ala., on May 3, 1963. The image led the front page of the next day’s New York Times.
The disorder in Birmingham was provoked by bombings targeting black leaders of “the Birmingham Civil Rights Campaign”. The places bombed were the parsonage of Rev. A. D. King, brother of Martin Luther King, Jr., and a motel owned by A. G. Gaston, where Dr. King and others, organizing the campaign, stayed. We saw pictures like the one above in all the newspapers. They eventually made it onto national TV news programs.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a leader of the Birmingham civil rights campaign which had been conducted that spring, with large, nonviolent demonstrations resulting in the mass arrest of schoolchildren who were trying to take a walk to Birmingham City Hall to talk to the mayor about segregation.
“How shall Integrity face Oppression?”
Two years later we saw pictures like this of John Lewis, now my Congressman, being beaten bloody by Alabama State troopers, while he and others peacefully marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Alabama. Congressman Lewis has called the Edmund Pettus Bridge — where the troopers and and a group of white men, deputized into a posse, attacked the protesters on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965 — an “almost holy place.”
Atticus Finch is a fictional character in Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird“, published just three years before the Alabama Civil rights marches. Atticus is a lawyer and resident of the fictional Maycomb County, Alabama. His character was based on Harper Lee’s own father, Amasa Coleman Lee, an Alabama lawyer, who, like Atticus, represented black defendants in a highly publicized criminal trial.
In terms of the plot of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Tom Robinson is a black man unjustly convicted as the result of prejudice, regardless of Finch’s best efforts. A central part of the story is the righteous and progressive character of Atticus. His defense is based on not just Robinson’s innocence but on his fundamental equality with all human beings.
The nationally publicized beatings of peaceful protesters in Alabama and “To Kill A Mockingbird” sent “signals within the noise” of the violent resistance to civil rights for black Americans. Now the vicious murders of seventeen innocent children needs to send “signals within the noise” of the violent resistance to any kind of reasonable gun control but that signal must be heard! It must be acted on by those who care about our children just like it was by those who cared for those beaten by Alabama police officers. Following is a picture of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students looking on after 17 of their fellow students were murdered. They hear the signal but they need the help of all Americans, to act on the signal just like Dr. King and John Lewis did.
Alex Wind, one of the survivors of the Florida shooting, echoed the sentiment on NBC’s Meet the Press: “We’re marching because it’s not just schools. It’s movie theaters, it’s concerts, it’s nightclubs. This kind of stuff can’t just happen. You know, we are marching for our lives, we’re marching for the 17 lives we lost. And we’re marching for our children’s lives and our children’s children and their children.”
However, the problem the students have, the major problem for all advocates for reasonable gun control is they desperately need an Atticus Finch. They could use a Martin Luther King as well but even Martin Luther King needed an Atticus Finch.
The reason was because Martin Luther King was a black man fighting for black people. Atticus Finch was a southern white man fighting for black people. Gun control advocates need gun advocates fighting for the lives of American children instead of fighting for some 2nd amendment myth made-up by gun industry marketing executives. The Founding Fathers never intended the 2nd amendment to protect ownership of assault rifles used to gun-down children while they sat at their school desks.
“There are so many answers and so contradictory; and such differences for those on the one hand who meet questions similar to this once a year or once a decade, and those who face them hourly and daily.”
in 1920 Carl Sandburg wrote A.E.F (American Expeditionary Force) after World War I. In the new world, envisioned by the poet and others, there was no more war and thus people had no need to take their guns off the walls and kill one another.
A. E. F.
By Carl Sandburg
“There will be a rusty gun on the wall, sweetheart, The rifle grooves curling with flakes of rust.
A spider will make a silver string nest in the darkest, warmest corner of it.
The trigger and the range-finder, they too will be rusty.
And no hands will polish the gun, and it will hang on the wall. Forefingers and thumbs will point casually toward it.
It will be spoken among half-forgotten, whished-to-be-forgotten things. They will tell the spider: Go on, you’re doing good work.”
Just like Birmingham police used attack dogs on U.S. citizens, so does the NRA. Any one of the following U.S. Senators or Representatives could become the Atticus Finch, protecting the children of the U.S. from NRA attack dogs. A bit more far fetched but not out out of the realm of possibility, given the fact that school children are being murdered by the dozens as a result of gun violence, is the idea that any of the following Gun Manufacturing executives could also protect children and begin to advance reasonable gun control. They themselves could restrict the sale of assault weapons just like bar tenders restrict the sale of alcoholic beverages. This is not hard stuff but it is stuff adults, not just children, need to do!
Top 6 Senators With the Most Contributions From the NRA
- John McCain (R, AZ) — $7.74 million
- Richard Burr (R, NC) — $6.99 million
- Roy Blunt (R, MO) — $4.55 million
- Thom Tillis (R, NC) — $4.42 million
- Cory Gardner (R, CO) — $3.88 million
- Marco Rubio (R, FL) — $3.303 million
Top 6 Representatives With the Most Contributions From the NRA
- French Hill (R, AR) — $1.09 million
- Ken Buck (R, CO) — $800,544
- David Young (R, IA) — $707,662
- Mike Simpson, (R, ID) — $385,731
- Greg Gianforte (R, MT) — $344,630
- Dan Young ( AL) — $245,720
CEO’s of Major U.S. Gun Manufacturers.
- Strum Ruger & Co. — Christopher J. Kelly
- Smith & Wesson — P. James Debney
- O.F. Mossberg & Sons — Alan Iver Mossberg Jr.
Anyone of these men could become an Atticus Finch and defend America’s children just like Harper Lee’s Atticus defended Tom Robinson. Sadly, however, as much as I would like to see some of these men step-up and become an Atticus Finch for America’s children, I’m afraid that won’t happen. None of these men are likely to hear that signal blaring through the noise of their own voices thanking the NRA . Just as much as Atticus Finch is a fiction so to is the likelihood of any of the above “leaders” leading. They’ll just expect any thoughts of Atticus to fade away and hope the signal of children being murdered with guns fades away as well.