Atticus Finch can be said to represent the very fragile sense of decency that occasionally shows itself in the character of the people of the United States. That decency has emerged in response to the last eight years of the Republican/Bush regime by, at last, removing them from control of our government.
That decency is easily suppressed in the face of an onslaught of Republican propaganda extolling the sanctity of greed, of ignorance, of intolerance, of the blind adherence to an ideology that is the over-simplification of all issues to simple black and white to make them comprehensible to simple minds.
In Harper Lee’s novel, Atticus Finch takes up the fight against injustice, bigotry, prejudice, ignorance and intolerance on behalf of a black man, Tom Robinson, falsely accused of raping a white woman. Bob Ewell, the father of the woman allegedly raped, is the closest character in literature to match the character of George Bush that it is possible to find. Ewell’s sneering, smirking arrogance, his pride in his ignorance, his willingness to lie to further his goals of oppressing those he is against, his use of superior force to attack the weak and innocent, Finch’s children, Jem and Scout, matches up with Bush’s lying about his reasons for attacking Iraq.
The jury, much as the people of the United States for the last eight years, were unable to overcome their blindness to the truth as presented by Atticus Finch, and chose to believe the lies as presented by the Bush-like Bob Ewell. Finch lost his fight for truth and justice, and lost his client, Tom Robinson, just as occasionally happens, the United States lost to the forces of ignorance, prejudice, and injustice during the Republican/Bush regime.
The children, Jem and Scout, are much like the uncertainty of some of the people of the United States when faced with people they don’t understand. They were not sure what to make of the recluse, Boo Radley, a person very much unlike themselves in some ways, but, aided by the example of tolerance shown them by Finch, they came to understand that though some are different, they are not detrimental to those who will accept them. The acceptance of gays by rational people comes to mind.
With the election of a Democratic Congress and President, those forces of repression and injustice, as occasionally happens, are almost completely gone from our government. There’s just a remnant of the Republicans left in the land, the hard-right, never say die, catastrophic end of civilization forecasting ideologues best represented by Beck, O’Reilly, Hannity, Coulter, Limbaugh and such.
There is an analogy to these people in the novel. It’s the one success that Atticus Finch had. These people are perfectly represented by the rabid dog, snapping and snarling, foaming at the mouth, attacking any and everything in sight that is not out to harm them. These people, the rabid dogs, are all that is left of the Republicans. Like the rabid dog, they are too far gone in their mental deterioration to contribute anything of value and are of a net negative value to our society.
Fortunately, we have progressed past the point of shooting the insane, as Atticus Finch had no choice but to do. He had to do that because something must be done with rabid dogs. The rabid dogs we have today in those analogies mentioned above cannot be allowed to roam at will, infecting our society with deadly, ignorance, intolerance, prejudice, bigotry and hate. We now have institutions in which to confine these unfortunates.
Any competent psychiatrist on listening to just a few minutes of the rantings and ravings of Beck, O’Reilly, Coulter, Hannity, Limbaugh and such would immediately diagnose paranoiac psychopathy and recommend institutionalization.
It’s remarkable that George Bush exposed himself for what he is to the entire world for eight years and was never institutionalized.