Where Have You Gone, Atticus Finch?

In the archives of legal fiction, two characters best embody historic liberal self-perception. One is attorney Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird fame. The other is Juror #8 in the 1957 film, 12 Angry Men. Today, each is an endangered species.

In his defense of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of rape in 1930s Alabama, Atticus ignored public opinion. He stared down the mobs intent on extra-legal justice and protected his ”mockingbird” as best he could. The unlikely mockingbird today is former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. As Chauvin learned quickly, if he did not know it beforehand, today’s vestigial liberals identify not with Atticus but with the mob.

Hell, as even Snopes had to concede Vice President Kamala Harris “encouraged her supporters to donate” to a nonprofit called the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) that was bailing out members of the mob arrested for rioting after George Floyd’s death.

Chauvin’s crime, like Robinson’s, was being of a certain race in a society that increasingly sees justice only through the prism of race. Like the fictional Robinson, the real-life Chauvin represents one of a long and growing line of sacrificial lambs offered on the altar of racial “justice” to expiate the nation’s imagined sins.

Ever impatient, the mobs from the very same liberal metro could not wait for Chauvin’s official immolation to demand the sacrifice of a new lamb. This time, the mobs have shown no scruple about sating themselves on a female officer. To them, it mattered not a whit that veteran Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, officer Kim Potter clearly showed no racial malice in her accidental shooting of Duante Wright, a troubled archetype from a subculture slowly being crushed under the weight of rigidly enforced dishonesty.

To his good fortune, Chauvin has found his Atticus in defense attorney Eric Nelson. Although he has backstage help from the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Nelson has been arguing solo against the snarky Mod Squad of a prosecution team. Calm and dispassionate, the forty-something Nelson has been quietly picking the prosecution case apart these last three weeks.  Viewed from another planet, the unknowing alien might wonder why Chauvin is even on trial. For details, please see the work done by Andrew Branca at Legal Insurrection.  Those who have not followed the case closely would be wise to ignore Big Media and watch the closing arguments, likely on Monday, before forming an opinion.

For all of Nelson’s good work, Chauvin has only a slightly better chance of acquittal than Tom Robinson. His best hope lies in having a juror like Juror #8, the character played by Henry Fonda in the liberal fantasy of a movie, 12 Angry Men.

In his screenplay notes, Reginald Rose describes Juror #8 as “a man who sees all sides of every question and constantly seeks the truth. A man of strength tempered with compassion. Above all, he is a man who wants justice to be done and will fight to see that it is.” This is how liberals have historically imagined themselves. The willfully blind perhaps still do. Not one for nuance, Rose describes #8’s nemesis, Juror #3, played by Lee J. Cobb, in the film, as “a humorless man who is intolerant of opinions other than his own and accustomed to forcing his wishes and views upon others.”

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