The plot of the classic 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” hinges on one key fact: Attorney Atticus Finch, the man liberals have historically seem as the avatar of their best selves, did not believe “survivor” Mayella Ewell.
Under pressure from her father and the society around her, Ewell had accused black handyman Tom Robinson of sexual assault. Finch believed she was lying and heroically defended Robinson in a court of law.
“The state has not produced one iota of evidence that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place,” said Finch at the trial. “It has relied instead upon the testimony of two witnesses – witnesses whose testimony has not only been called into serious question during cross-examination, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant.”
“I have nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the State,” Finch continued. “But my pity does not extend to her putting a man’s life at stake.”
In perhaps the movie version’s most dramatic scene, Finch stood on the jailhouse steps, shotgun in hand, to ward off a mob of would be lynchers.
Today, mindlessly chanting “we believe survivors,” leftist crowds around the country have abandoned the Atticus Finch model for the thrill of joining a lynch mob.
It is hard to say exactly when the left shifted from insisting that the obviously guilty were innocent – Sacco, Vanzetti, Hiss, the Rosenbergs, Peltier, Hurricane Carter, Mumia – to insisting that the obviously innocent were guilty.
This was a dark turn that has not gotten nearly the attention it deserves. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas got a taste of it in 1991 when he was publicly humiliated for allegedly harassing “survivor” Anita Hill despite ample evidence to the contrary.
Although Thomas survived his “high-tech lynching,” he has lived with a cloud over his head ever since. To Thomas’ face, Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” summarized Thomas’ reputation among the progressive elite more than 15 years after the hearings:
“… a man of little accomplishment, an opportunistic black conservative who sold out his race, joined the Republican Party and was ultimately rewarded with an affirmative action appointment to the nation’s highest court, a sullen, intellectual lightweight so insecure he rarely opens his mouth in oral arguments.”
In 2006, Democratic Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong chose to believe gang rape “survivor” Crystal Mangum and recklessly charged three Duke lacrosse players with rape despite a mother load of exculpatory evidence.
The university promptly suspended the players, fired the coach and canceled the lacrosse season. The university took these steps despite the fact that none of the DNA samples from any of the team’s 46 white players matched the DNA found on the accuser.
Urged on by the New York Times, the civil rights community, the feminist establishment and the Duke professoriate, Nifong had three young men indicted for rape within two months of the incident.
The three were eventually cleared after a year of hell, but no one of note in the media apologized. As to “survivor” Ms. Magnum, she was convicted of murdering her boyfriend in 2011.
In 2014, Rolling Stone published a lengthy article about the gang rape of a young woman named Jackie at University of Virginia fraternity house Phi Kappa Psi.
Jackie’s story includes a heavy person on top of her, a hand over her mouth and young men laughing – all details found in Christine Blasey Ford’s account of her alleged attack at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh.
“She remembers every moment of the next three hours of agony,” wrote Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely, “during which, she says, seven men took turns raping her, while two more – her date, Drew, and another man – gave instruction and encouragement.” (The original article is archived here.)
Within days of the article’s publication, all Greek activities had been suspended on campus, the fraternity house was vandalized and hundreds of protesters marched on campus.
At first only conservative bloggers challenged the story and the way it was reported. Within weeks, however, the whole grotesque story collapsed. During a 2016 trial, the attorney for the Rolling Stone conceded, “The magazine’s editorial staff was no match for Jackie … she deceived us, and we do know it was purposeful.”
Jackie thought otherwise. In a video deposition, she said, “I stand by the account I gave Rolling Stone. I believed it to be true at the time.” Rolling Stone fired neither the reporter nor the editor.
“Survivor” Carolyn Bryant stuck to her story too – for more than 60 years. Then last year she spoke to an historian about her treatment at the hands of 14-year-old Chicago boy, Emmett Till.
At the trial of Till’s accused killers, Bryant testified that “Emmett had grabbed her hand, she pulled away, and he followed her behind the counter, clasped her waist, and, using vulgar language, told her that he had been with white women before.” Said she to the historian, the account was “not true.”
Democrats have produced one Atticus Finch in recent years, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. In 2015, McCulloch had the courage to stand up to a mob howling for the head of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.
Despite the protests and riots, McCulloch refused to indict Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown for the very good reason the evidence did not support an arrest.
In August of this year, local Democrats repaid McCulloch for his courage. Wesley Bell, a black city councilman, beat him 57 percent to 43 percent in the Democratic primary.
Said activist LaShell Eikerenkoetter. “Getting [McCulloch] out was for the family, for all the people that have fought, and for everybody that we have lost.”
Where have you gone, Atticus Finch? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.