The New York Times has its review up of Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman,” the sequel to the iconic masterpiece “To Kill a Mockingbird,” but there’s just one problem. It turns out that Atticus Finch is not the anti-racism crusader we all believed him to be. In fact, he’s “a racist who once attended a Klan meeting.”
This is not the Atticus Finch we thought we knew? Pretty much:
Hardest hit, however are all the little boys named “Atticus”:
Ha! Ha! Ha!
Just last year the HuffPo declared “Atticus” top be one of the “7 Newly Popular Baby Names Hiding in Plain Site”:
The Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, and the movie, starring Gregory Peck as principled lawyer and role-model dad Atticus Finch, was released two years later. Between then and now, the book has been a mainstay of English class curricula, working its way into the collective consciousness of future baby namers, while Atticus Finch was voted the greatest hero of American film by the AFI.
But why Atticus now? There were five baby boys bearing this Latin appellation in 1881, but the name lay fallow for well over a century when it suddenly popped up in the Top 1000 in 2004, jumping 500 additional places since then. There was definite celeb influence—Mary-Louise Parker and Billy Cruddup chose it in 2004 and Summer Phoenix and Casey Affleck in 2007, but I think it was more the confluence of a growing trend for ancient Greek and Roman names (itself influenced by recent movies and TV shows) and the golden aura still surrounding Atticus Finch.