The Complexity of Belief vs the Reality of Racism – a review of “Go Set A Watchman”

Do you know what a devil’s advocate is? If you don’t, here it is: One who argues against a cause or position, not as a committed opponent but simply for the sake of argument or to determine the validity of the cause or position.

That’s what I think Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” was, a devil’s advocate written to add some reality to the complexity of racism in the United States that has become too much of a black and white issue when in reality there are many shades of color at work.

When the sequel of “To Kill A Mockingbird” came out, the first thing I read was one or more of the politically correct mobs lashing out when they condemned the book because of an early scene in the novel that depicts Atticus Finch as a racist, but I didn’t let that stop me from buying an audio version of the book on six CDs at Costco, and I’m glad I did because the story in this novel offers a brutal reminder that hot-button issues like abortion, school reform and racism can’t be dealt with in a 14-second politically correct sound bite by one side or the other. Reality is more complex then simple and often ignorant thinking.

After listening to the novel, Atticus Finch turns out to be a complex individual and I don’t think he was the kind of racist that fits the stereotype that so many love to hate. He didn’t belong to the KKK. He was not a white supremacist. In fact, Atticus didn’t even own one of those white cloaks with hoods that have holes cut out for the eyes and mouth.

Instead, before the end of the novel, we learn that Atticus might believe in separate but equal, but he would also be the first one to put his body between a fire-breathing racist lynch mob and an African American the mob wants to hang from the nearest tree, because it’s obvious Atticus still believes in justice and equality for every person but maybe not everyone’s definition of what that means. Right or wrong, I don’t think Atticus deserves to be condemned. Reserve that anger for those who bomb black churches, murder minorities for just having a different shade of skin and/or block the right of minorities to vote.

I taught “To Kill a Mockingbird” in high school, and I’ve seen the film a number of times, so I was ready to read about the characters who were 20+ years older, and I was not disappointed. The audio book is read by Reese Witherspoon, and Jean Louise Finch—Scout—reminds us that she was a child once when she takes readers on journeys back in time to when she was a child and then an adolescent becoming a young woman. I think Witherspoon’s voice is exactly what we would want Scout to sound like as a young woman in her twenties.

Instead of jumping blindly on the politically correct bandwagon that defines what racism is, read this book and do what it was designed for: weigh all the factors and think for yourself. Then judge individuals like Atticus on an individual basis and not a blanket indictment written by an often angry and mindless mob.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal . His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

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Is David Coleman a psychopath, and what does that mean for the rest of us if it’s true?

Lloyd Lofthouse:

Is this a war of psychopaths against those who care: CEOs and lawyers versus teachers and care givers?

Originally posted on Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé:

When David Coleman said, “no one gives a shit about how you think and feel,” did that reveal his psychological profile as an alleged psychopath?

As an alleged psychopath and one of the key architects behind the Common Core (so-called) State Standards agenda and the corporate education reform movement to privatize public education and profit off public money, Coleman probably wouldn’t understand that emotions drive most of the decisions that 99% of people make in life.

For instance, Psychology Today reports that “Your emotions will drive the decisions you make today, and your success may depend upon your ability to understand and interpret them. When an emotion is triggered in your brain, your nervous systems responds by creating feelings in your body (what many people refer to as a “gut feeling”) and certain thoughts in your mind. A great deal of your decisions are informed by your emotional responses because that is what…

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Give the guy a break for having sex at age 15, and then doing it repeatedly

Two reader reviews that were recently posted on the same day on Amazon for my first novel gave me the idea for this post, and then I couldn’t get it out of my head. That’s why I wrote the post—to get it out of my head.

The 15-year old mentioned in the title of this post I wrote about in my first novel, and he died more than a hundred years ago. He turned nineteen in 1854 soon after he arrived in China. The novel, “My Splendid Concubine”, covers Robert Hart’s first decade in China. He stayed in China until 1908, and died in England in 1911.

“Hart’s devotion to his work played havoc with his emotional life. As a young man, in spite of his Methodist conscience, he had bouts of promiscuity. In 1857 he took a Chinese concubine, Ayao, with whom he had three children and for whom he developed genuine affection and respect.” – Wiki

Anyway, in 1999 when I started researching the life of the main character of “My Splendid Concubine,” I read the surviving journals that Robert Hart didn’t burn later in his life, and what I read clearly revealed a nineteen year old who thought about women and sex a lot. In fact, the evidence suggests that he had sex with so many women starting at age 15—when he was in college in Belfast, Ireland—that he ended up being treated for an STD, and when that news reached his father and family, it’s what propelled him to escape to China and into the arms of Chinese women.

The women he lusted after and had sex with during his early years in China were part of Robert Hart’s life, and I made a decision while writing the rough draft of that historical fiction novel that I was going to be true to who he really was and not write a sanitized version like the one his niece Juliet Bredon published in 1913. Click on the previous link, and you may download Bredon’s book and read it for free from Gutenberg.org.

Here are the two reviews that gave me the idea for this post. They were posted on Amazon on July 20, 2015 for “My Splendid Concubine”.

1-Star: Rita Schwartz wrote, “If all you want to read is about sex, this book might be for you. Again the description of the book made this sound like a historical novel. Maybe it was, I only got about three chapters read.”

5-star: Robyn Johnson said, “I couldn’t put it down. Memorizing! What a surprise and delight. One of the best books I have read in years! I usually never read a book twice, this one I will make the exception! I think it is a must read!”

In conclusion, maybe the book is fortunate that more readers enjoyed the story than those who did not. For instance, on July 21, 2015 at 3 PM, “My Splendid Concubine” had 192 customer reviews—182 were listed as verified purchases. One-hundred-and-eighteen of the reviews had 5-stars and eight of those were not verified purchases, 39 were 4-star (all verified purchases), 20 were 3-stars (all verified purchases), 9 were 2-stars (one was not a verified purchase), and 6 were 1-star (one was not a verified purchase).

When you are about 10k – 15k words away from finishing the rough draft of your next novel, “The Last Sorcerer”, you should be working on that instead of writing a post comparing two recent reviews for your first book, but it’s all about lust and sex so that should make this post okay, I think.

Book One on July 20 - 2015_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal . His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The Conspiracy that is not a Theory – What the Overwhelming Evidence Reveals

Originally posted on Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé:

There is the court of law, an arm of the judicial branch of government that hears cases and administers justice based on statutes of common law, and then there is the court-of-public-opinion usually driven—right or wrong—by emotion without the kind of evidence that might lead to a conviction in a court with a judge and a possible jury.

Then there is Mercedes K. Schneider’s “Common Core Dilemma – Who Owns Our Schools?

CC book cover

After I received the paperback copy that the author’s editor mailed to me for my honest review, I lost sleep for the first few nights that I was reading the book because of a sense of helplessness that there was little I could do so stop the horrible crimes being perpetrated on millions of teachers and more than 50 million children in the United States.

About a third of the way through the book, I asked…

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Who Funded Jeb’s “Foundation for Educational Excellence”?

Lloyd Lofthouse:

Do we really want another BUSH for President?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Jeb Bush created the “Foundation for Educational Excellence” with two goals in mind. First, to burnish his credentials as a “reformer.” Second, to serve as a vehicle for advocating vouchers, charters, online learning, and high-stakes accountability.

Peter Greene writes that we now know who contributed large sums to Jeb’s FEE. We may safely assume that they shared Jeb’s policy goals.

He writes:

It is not an exact list in that donors are organized by ranges. So we know that Bloomberg donated somewhere between $1.2 million and $2.4 million, which is quite a margin of error. But it’s still a chunk of change, either way.

Joining Bloomberg Philanthropies in the Over a Cool Million Club are these folks, a completely unsurprising list:

Walton Family Foundation (between $3.5 mill and over $6 mill)
B&M Gates (between $3 mill and over $5 mill)
Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation (between $1.6 mill and $3.25…

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Fuel for thought — a few facts about the 4th of July and who votes in the United States

Lloyd Lofthouse:

How do you measure patriotism—by the number of beers drank on the 4th of July or who votes on election days?

Originally posted on The Soulful Veteran's Blog:

After posting Will the Real 4th of July Please Stand Up on July fourth, this is my sequel. Smile, hopefully Big Brother is not watching you on camera yet.

  • 35.5 Million: Number of People Traveling by Car to celebrate the 4th of July with family and friends.
  • 150 Million: Number of Hot Dogs Consumed Over the Weekend
  • 68.3 Million Total cases of beer sold [at 24 beers a case, that is more than 1.6 billion beers] on Independence Day weekend, the most popular holiday for beer purchases, followed by Labor Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day and Christmas.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t these all democracies?

  • $247.1 Million: Value of Fireworks From China (no wonder the Chinese love the U.S. 4th of July holiday)
  • About 42.6 percent (103 million) of the people celebrating the Fourth this year will attend a fireworks display or community party, while 11.5 percent (27…

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My thoughts on this Fourth of July 2015

Lloyd Lofthouse:

Will the real 4th of July please stand up.

Originally posted on The Soulful Veteran's Blog:

While I’m an apple pie fan, my thoughts were not on fireworks or celebrating the 4th. My wife, who arrived in America in 1986 on a student visa from China and who is now a U.S. citizen, is the one who bought the flag that hangs outside our house.

My job was to install the bracket for the flag, and while installing the flag a lot of conflicting thoughts were running through my head. For instance, the reason I don’t go to fireworks shows is because of the PTSD that came home with me from Vietnam as a U.S. Marine—a war that was based on lies by a U.S. President just like the war in Iraq.

I was thinking of the Swift Boat Veteran campaign against Kerry when he ran for president and how G. W. Bush probably won that election when he was a coward who used his family…

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