Lessons in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ need to be taught

This “white saviorhood” business angers me (“’White saviorhood’: Mukilteo schools end ‘Mockingbird’ requirement,” The Herald, Jan. 25).

First of all, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is set in the Deep South during Jim Crow. Not a lot of black defense attorneys there at that time, and if there had been, not likely they’d have been treated respectfully in that courtroom.

Second, this story is only tangentially about persons of color. It wouldn’t be substantially changed if the defendant had been Jewish or Italian or Irish. The story is about having the courage of your convictions to do your job and defend an accused man when the prevailing climate and culture opposes it. At not a little personal risk, the attorney argues in court and proves the innocence of the accused black man; not because he’s doing the accused a big favor, but because it is the right thing to do.

Aren’t we seeing right now with the Jan. 6 insurrection crowd and its aftermath people being put to the same moral test of courage to do what is right? And most of the political figures involved are failing miserably.

For 60 years these values of strength of conviction and doing what is right in the face of adversity have served us in public schools. In my Marin County public school seventh grade class they made a point of having us read, study and discuss the book.

Now that’s all going out the window because of some ill-conceived woke idea that lumps a book like “Mockingbird” with Confederate statues.

I’m old and things change, that’s the natural order of things, but change shouldn’t stand for stupidity. The fact that people can’t fathom the meaning of a book like “Mockingbird” suggests the problem isn’t with the book, it’s with an educational system that fails to grasp let alone teach the lessons of the book.

Steve Ward


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