Crowdfunding Countercurrents

Submission Policy

Popularise CC

Join News Letter

Defend Indian Constitution




CC Youtube Channel

Editor's Picks

Feed Burner

Read CC In Your
Own Language

Bradley Manning

India Burning

Mumbai Terror

Financial Crisis


AfPak War

Peak Oil



Alternative Energy

Climate Change

US Imperialism

US Elections


Latin America









Book Review

Gujarat Pogrom

Kandhamal Violence


India Elections



About Us


Fair Use Notice

Contact Us

Subscribe To Our
News Letter


Search Our Archive

Our Site



Order the book

A Publication
on The Status of
Adivasi Populations
of India




Review: “Go Set A Watchman” By Harper Lee -  
Zero Tolerance For Racism Or Constructive Engagement?

By Dr Gideon Polya

 20 July, 2015

Harper Lee has followed her “To Kill A Mockingbird” (1960) with a sequel “Go Set A Watchman” (2015), actually written  before the first novel  but set 20 years after the events of the first novel. This novel raises the key issue of  how decent people should respond to racism - with zero tolerance or constructive engagement from within. Continuing African-American and Palestinian disenfranchisement, inequality  and segregation in the 21st century demand zero tolerance for racism.

Harper Lee's acclaimed, Pullitzer Prize-winning  first novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” (1960) is set in the American Deep South in the early 1930s in the fictional  Alabama  town of Maycombe,  the seat of Maycombe County.  6 year old Jean Louise (“Scout”)  and her older brother Jem are raised by their widowed, middle-aged  father Atticus Finch, a much-respected  lawyer and a member of the much-respected  Finch family of Maycombe. The Finch children befriend a boy Dill who comes to stay with his aunt and the  children are fascinated by their reclusive neighbour Boo Radley who leaves gifts for them near his property. Atticus is appointed by Judge  Taylor to defend an African-American Tom Robinson who is accused of raping a young White woman Mayella Ewell. The Finch children   are bullied and Atticus scorned as a  “nigger-lover”.  Atticus confronts a White mob intent  on lynching Tom but the  lynch mob disperse when, “out of the mouths of children”, Scout, Jem, and Dill come to his defence. Assisted by Reverend Sykes, the children watch the trial from the ”Coloured Balcony” of the courthouse, although Atticus does not want them to attend. Atticus establishes that Mayella Ewell has been beaten by her alcoholic and town drunk father, Bob Ewell, for making  advances to Tom.  Nevertheless, Tom is convicted  and is subsequently killed trying to escape from custody. Bob Ewell is nevertheless  enraged by the damage to his reputation, spits in Atticus' face,  tries to break into the judge's house, threatens Tom's widow and finally attacks Scout and Jem on their way home from school. Jem's arm is broken but the children are rescued by Boo Radley who carries Jem home. Bob Ewell is killed in this encounter but Sheriff Tate decides not to blame Jem or Boo and assumes that Ewell has been accidentally killed by himself.

“To kill a Mockingbird” was made into an Oscar-winning film starring  Gregory Pack as Atticus and became an American icon for so adroitly exposing racial discrimination in the Deep South with a story seen through children's eyes of a White-dominated society with Good Whites, Bad Whites and oppressed Blacks [1].  

“Go Set A Watchman” [2] was actually written as a first draft of  “To Kill a Mockingbird” and was recently re-discovered and published with great attendant interest and speculation in 2015. The title of “Go Set A Watchman” derives from Isaiah 21:6 in The Holy Bible (King James version): "For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth”.  This Old Testament Biblical assertion  is made in the context of the Assyrian invasion of Palestine and simply says what it says: set a  trustworthy observer to tell the truth or in modern American parlance “tell it like it is”.  

Now the world today is acutely threatened,  with nuclear weapons, poverty and climate change being the greatest threats to Humanity. Informed, humane and forthright people are the Watchmen (Watchpersons) of society and speak out for Humanity and the Biosphere, whether at the level of individuals or specific  species and ecosystems or  at the global level in relation to humans rights abuse and, in particular, actual or potential avoidable deaths (avoidable mortality, excess deaths, excess mortality, deaths that should not happen) from state nuclear  terrorism,  from violence or violently-imposed deprivation, or from man-made climate change and worsening climate genocide [3, 4, 5].   

The Watchpersons  “speaking out” or “declaring what they seeth” is fundamental  for rational risk management that is crucial for societal safety and which successively involves (a) accurate information from truth-telling , (b) scientific analysis, this involving the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses, and (c) informed systemic change to minimize risk. Unfortunately,  this rational risk management protocol is typically perverted at the individual,  family or local level,   or at the level of the family of nations by (a) lying, self-deception, spin, obfuscation, intimidation, truth-obfuscating “constructive engagement”  and censorship, (b) anti-science spin, this involving the selective use of asserted facts to support a partisan position, and (c) blame and shame that is counterproductive because  it blocks reportage crucial for rational risk management and in the worst cases leads to war [3].

Indeed in the Western Plutocracies, Murdochracies, Lobbyocracies, Corporatocracies and Dollarocracies the truth available from informed and humane Watchmen is perverted by Big Money which purchases people, politicians, parties, policies, public perception of reality and political power. Indeed the purchase of political power provides a positive feedback to ensure ever more perversion of the truth. Thus not just the Deep South but all the Western Lobbyocracies are perverted by Mainstream media, politician and academic lying by commission or omission [6, 7], to the extent that, in relation to man-made climate change, it is now very unlikely that a catastrophic 2 degrees Centigrade  temperature rise will be avoided [8, 9] .

Harper Lee in both novels is a truth-telling Watchman. Without giving too much of the story away, “Go Set a Watchman” is set in the same fictional Alabama town of Maycombe with the same key characters of Jean Louise (“Scout”)  Finch, now in her mid-20s  , living in New York, and visiting Maycombe, and Scout's  father, Atticus Finch, now in his mid-70s and running his law firm with the help of Scout's childhood neighbour and long-time friend and boyfriend Henry “Hank” Clinton.  Atticus' sister Alexandra (“Xandra”)  now  looks after the Finch household, the much loved and caring Black cook Calpurnia having retired from looking after Atticus and helping to raise the children. Aunt Alexandra  is conscious of the high local standing of the Finch family and regards Henry as “White trash” (his father having run away and his drunken mother dying on the railway tracks ) . Another key character is Atticus' brother  Dr John “Jack” Finch who is a very well-read and opinionated medical doctor and very fond of his niece. Scout's brother Jem has died young (like his mother) and Scout's childhood friend Dill, like Henry, went off to war, but Dill stayed in Europe.   The first 2 parts of the 6-part novel are a delight to read with very funny flashbacks to Scout's childhood 20 years earlier.

However in Part 3 the mood changes. Atticus and Henry attend a meeting of the Whites-only Morecombe County Citizens' Council at the courthouse.  Scout (as in the trial of “To Kill a Mockingbird”) witnesses the proceedings  from upstairs in the Coloured Balcony and sees her father and boyfriend  sitting on either side of  a rabid racist speaker Grady O'Hanlon who  Atticus introduces. Scout is appalled by O'Hanlon's bottom-of-the barrel, red-neck racist speech and feels betrayed by the father who has always been her moral guide: “The one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trusted has failed her; the only man she had ever known to whom she could point and say with expert knowledge, “He is a gentleman, in his heart he is a gentleman”, had betrayed her, publicly, grossly and shamelessly” (Chapter 8, page 113 [2]).  Sickened to the point of vomiting, Scout tells Aunt Alexandra to tell Atticus and Henry when they come home that she is “indisposed”, and takes to her bed: “Had she insight, could she have pierced the barriers of her highly selective, insular world, she may have discovered that all her life she had been with a visual defect which had gone unnoticed and neglected by herself and those closest to her: she was born color blind” (Chapter 10, page 122, [2]).

It gets worse. The Finchs are breakfasting when Hank  calls round to say that the Sheriff has reported that Calpurnia's grandson Frank, the son of her son Zeebo, has accidentally run over and killed a drunken White man called Mr Healy. Hank has told the Sheriff to tell Zeebo that Atticus Finch would not take the case. Atticus rejoined “You shouldn't have done that, Hank … of course we'll take it” (Chapter 11, page 148, [2]). Scout goes to Calpurnia's place and is shown in by Zeebo. Scout tells Calpurnia that “Mr Finch'll… help him”  but ”The words died on her lips. Day before yesterday she would have said “Mr Finch‘ll help him” (Chapter 11, pages 158-159, [2]). Scout is shocked by Calpurnia's realistic acceptance that Frank will “Go to jail with or without Mr Finch” and when Scout says “Cal, Cal, Cal, what are you doing to me? What's the matter? I'm your baby, have you forgotten me? Why are you shutting me out? What are you doing to me”?”, Calpurnia responds: “ What are you all doing to us?” (Chapter 11, page 160, [2]).

Scout has powerful conversations with Atticus, Alexandra, Henry and Uncle Jack, and is appalled by their complicity in the racist status quo of Black disenfranchisement and segregation that is now getting the attention of the Supreme Court thanks to the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People). Her immediate angry response is to want to go straight back to New York where she doesn't even notice if a Black person is sitting next to her on a train or in a diner. I'll leave you to read the book,  the arguments and the outcome. However the bottom line is whether decent people like Scout should have zero tolerance for racism or engage in polite constructive dialogue with an overwhelmingly racist society.

The price of the pudding is in the eating. Half a century on from the heady days of the 1960s - when Black Americans finally got to have formal equality, desegregation and the right to vote - constructive engagement and tolerance of “politically correct racism” (PC racism) has meant that African-Americans are subject to massive inequality, segregation and disenfranchisement as summarized below (for details and documentation see [10]):

 1. African Americans living in poverty is at a record high of 27%.

2. African Americans are disproportionately impoverished – 27.4% of African Americans live in poverty  versus 9.6% of Whites not Hispanic, 10.5% of Asians, 12.3%  of Whites, and 23.5% of Hispanics of any race (2013).

3. African American wealth is about 5 times lower  than that of  Whites e.g. a $75,040 average home value for Black Americans versus $217,150 for Whites (2013) and $154,285 average for household assets for Black Americans versus $783,224 for Whites (2013).

4. The Black-White discrepancy has been locked in for 50 years e.g. 2 times higher unemployment rate for African Americans than for Whites since 1963 (in the range  from 1.8 times higher  to 2.7 times higher).

5. Millions of African Americans are excluded from voting e.g. nearly 80% of adult males in the Chicago area are excluded from voting under felony laws.

6. African Americans  and Hispanic Americans  have  about half their “fair share” of representatives  in Congress and 5-6 times less Congressional  representation than  Jewish Americans.

7. African Americans are 8 times more likely to murder and 6 times more likely to be murdered than Whites.

8. African American males are disproportionately involved in violent crime e.g.  50% of all black males and 38% of white men will be arrested by the age of 23 and in  2008, black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58% for homicide and 67% for robbery.

9. Black Americans suffer from Educational Apartheid (aka Segregation) e.g. 40 percent of Latinos and 39 percent of blacks now attend intensely segregated schools and  the average Latino and black student is now in a school with about  60 percent of students from families who are near or below the poverty line [11, 12].

10. African American Congress representatives and leaders  betray African-Americans, anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, human rights and Palestinians, and back genocidally racist Apartheid Israel 's Palestinian Genocide.

Indeed “polite constructive  engagement” rather than “zero tolerance  for racism” and “zero tolerance for inequity” means that  1.5 million Americans die preventably  each year from deprivation in a Neocon American and  Zionist Imperialist (NAZI)-dominated America that has committed to a $40 trillion longterm accrual cost of support for One Percenters, Apartheid Israel and the Zionist-backed US War on Muslims that since the US Government's 9-11 false-flag operation (3,000 killed) has  involved 10  million Muslims being killed  through violence or violently–imposed deprivation and  20 million Americans dying preventably  at home  [13,  14, 15].

For anti-racist Jews and indeed all anti-racist humanitarians the core moral messages from the Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million dead, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation) and from the more general WW2 European Holocaust (30 million Slav, Jewish and Gypsy dead) are “zero tolerance for racism”, “never again to anyone”, “bear witness” and “zero tolerance for lying”. Indeed anti-racist Jews and anti-racist non-Jews are resolute in their opposition to racist Zionists (RZs), Apartheid Israel  and the ongoing Palestinian Genocide [16-20] that has involved the following:

(1)  over 90% of Palestine has been ethnically cleansed;

(2) 2 million Palestinians  have been killed by violence (0.1 million) or violently-imposed deprivation (1.9 million) since 1936 [16];

(3) of 12 million Palestinians, 6 million are forbidden to even step foot in their own country, 4.3 million Occupied Palestinians  exist without human rights as hostages of genocidally racist Apartheid Israel and only 14%, 1.7 million Palestinian  Israelis, are permitted to vote for the government ruling all of Palestine, albeit as Third Class citizens under the  race laws of democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel;

(4) the 36% of Israeli subjects who are Occupied Palestinians cannot vote for the Government  ruling them;

(5) avoidable deaths in Apartheid Israel's neighbours – all of which Apartheid Israel has attacked and occupied -  total 24 million [5];

(6) Apartheid Israel has 80-100 nuclear warheads (with the material for 200 more) as compared to the US (4,800),  Russia (5,700), France (290),  China (250), the UK (120), Pakistan (100-120), India (90-110), North Korea (6-8) and Iran (zero) [4, 21];

(7) the annual GDP per capita is $4,900 for Occupied Palestine as compared to $33,400 for Apartheid Israel, and over 4,000 Palestinians die avoidably each year from Zionist-imposed deprivation;

(8) 20 million Americans have died preventably since 9-11 linked to the huge fiscal perversion of a $40 trillion longterm accrual cost to America of supporting Apartheid Israel and the post-1990 Zionist-backed US War on Muslims in which 13 million Muslims have died avoidably from violence or from violently-imposed deprivation  [14, 15, 22] .

Zionism is genocidal racism in awful theory and horrendous practice and accordingly should be sidelined from public life as have been like racists such as the Nazis, neo-Nazis, Apartheiders and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). However “polite constructive engagement” and ruthless Zionist subversion  has resulted in Zionist domination of Western Mainstream media and political  parties and the Western myth of a “2-state solution peace process” in a land that has been over 90% ethnically cleansed of Indigenous Palestinians.  Thus the racist  Zionists (RZs)  – who are the world's worst anti-Arab anti-Semites (by promotion of the Palestinian  Genocide and the Muslim Genocide) and the world's worst anti-Jewish anti-Semites (by false defamation of anti-racist  Jews and false and defamatory  conflation of all Jews with the genocidal crimes of Apartheid Israel) – have been highly successful  in falsely labelling opposition to Israeli genocide and Apartheid as “anti-Semitism” and, through  bribery, threats and blackmail, obtaining the resolute support of the major Western political parties (e.g. the Democrats and Republicans in the US, the  Tories and Labour in the UK and the Coalition and Labor in Australia).


The key proposition in Harper Lee's  marvellous new book “Go Set a Watchman” is whether decent people should respond to deadly evils like racism and gross inequality with   “zero tolerance” (like Scout) or with “polite constructive engagement” (like Atticus, Henry, Uncle Jack and Aunt Alexandra).   

No doubt the endlessly lying Mainstream media , politician and academic presstitutes will resolutely ignore or obfuscate this clear proposition. However  the deadliness of both racism and of inequality demands zero tolerance for both these evils. Thus war is the ultimate expression of racism and 13 million Muslims have died avoidably from violence or from violently-imposed deprivation in Zionist-promoted wars  since the US Government's 9-11 false-flag atrocity [13-15].  Gross inequality and imposed deprivation is deadly as seen in the 1.5 billion people (half of them children) who have died avoidably from deprivation since 1950 and the 17 million people (half of them children) who die avoidably  each year  from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease [5].

Of course we should be polite to our fellow human beings, but a policy of  “zero tolerance  for racism and inequality” is demanded by the horrible reality that the “polite constructive engagement” characteristic of Western  political  argument has meant that   almost unimaginably  too many people have died – and continue  to die  - from war and deprivation. Specifically, the continuing  deadly  racism and inequality imposed on African Americans and on Palestinians by the ruthless Neocon American and  Zionist Imperialist (NAZI)  One Percenters demands a shift from the present deadly polite but obfuscatory debate to pro-Life zero tolerance.

Harper Lee writing “Go Set a Watchman” in the 1950s says of the decent  Scout that “she was born color blind” . However African-American lawyer Dr Michelle Alexander in her 2010 book “The New Jim Crow. Mass Incarceration in  the Age of Colorblindess” has exposed the profound, and destructive de facto racism of US laws that are constitutional and formally non-racial but which are nevertheless devastating the African –American community: “People are swept into the criminal justice system — particularly in poor communities of color — at very early ages ... typically for fairly minor, nonviolent crimes… [The young black males are] shuttled into prisons, branded as criminals and felons, and then when they're released, they're relegated to a permanent second-class status, stripped of the very rights supposedly won in the civil rights movement — like the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, the right to be free of legal discrimination and employment, and access to education and public benefits. Many of the old forms of discrimination that we supposedly left behind during the Jim Crow era are suddenly legal again, once you've been branded a felon” [23, 24].

How can decent Americans, decent, anti-racist Jews and indeed all decent Humanity apply zero tolerance to racism and inequality? Decent people must (a) inform everyone they can of the deadliness and  utter unacceptability of  racism and inequality , (b)  demand a rapid end to racism and gross inequality and (c) urge and apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all people, politicians, parties, companies, corporations and countries disproportionately  involved in deadly racism, war  and inequity.


[1]. “To kill a Mockingbird”, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Kill_a_Mockingbird .

[2]. Lee Harper, “Go Set A Watchman” (Heinemann, London 2015).

[3]. “Gideon Polya”: https://sites.google.com/site/drgideonpolya/home .

[4]. “Nuclear weapons ban , end poverty & reverse climate change”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/nuclear-weapons-ban .

[5]. Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, that includes a history of every country from Neolithic times and is now available for free perusal on the web: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/  .

[6]. "Mainstream media lying": https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammedialying/ .

[7]. “Mainstream media censorship”: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/home  .

[8]. “Are we doomed?”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/are-we-doomed .

[9]. "Too late to avoid global warming catastrophe": https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/too-late-to-avoid-global-warming .

[10]. Gideon Polya, “Truth & Boycotts, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) Can Overcome Huge Inequities Suffered By African Americans Under American Apartheid”,  Countercurrents, 29 September, 2014: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya290914.htm

[11]. Educational Apartheid”: https://sites.google.com/site/educationalapartheid/ .

[12]. Adam Sanchez, “Educational Apartheid in America”, International Socialist Review, : http://isreview.org/issue/67/educational-apartheid-america .

[13]. “Experts: US did 9-11”: https://sites.google.com/site/expertsusdid911/ .

[14]. Gideon Polya, “American Holocaust, Millions Of Untimely American Deaths And $40 Trillion Cost Of Israel To Americans”,  Countercurrents, 27 August, 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya270813.htm

[15]. Gideon Polya, “One Percenter Greed & War Means Over 1.5 Million Americans Die Preventably Each Year”,  Countercurrents, 19 September, 2014: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya190914.htm .

[16]. “Palestinian Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/palestiniangenocide/ .

[17]. “Boycott Apartheid  Israel”: https://sites.google.com/site/boycottapartheidisrael/.

[18]. “Gaza Concentration Camp”: https://sites.google.com/site/palestiniangenocide/gaza-concentration  .

[19]. “Jews Against Racist Zionism”: https://sites.google.com/site/jewsagainstracistzionism/ .

[20]. “Non-Jews Against Racist Zionism”: https://sites.google.com/site/nonjewsagainstracistzionism/ .

[21]. “Arms Control Association”: http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat .

[22]. "Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide": https://sites.google.com/site/muslimholocaustmuslimgenocide/ .

[23]. Michelle Alexander quoted in “Legal scholar: Jim Crow still exists in America”, NPR Books, 16 January 2012: http://www.npr.org/2012/01/16/145175694/legal-scholar-jim-crow-still-exists-in-america .

[24]. Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow. Mass Incarceration in  the Age of Colorblindess”.

Dr Gideon Polya has been teaching science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/australian-complicity-in-iraq-mass-mortality/3369002#transcript ) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/








Share on Tumblr



Comments are moderated