It was just a coincidence that the actor Gregory Peck died only a few days after the American Film Institute named his most famous character, Atticus Finch, the greatest American film hero ever. But it is a coincidence worth the next 700 or so words. Atticus is the Southern lawyer in Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning book “To Kill a Mockingbird.” He defends a black man erroneously accused of raping and beating a white woman in Depression era Alabama.
It’s hard to deny that Atticus deserves the title that the AFI has bestowed upon him. He is what most Americans fancy themselves as being: the optimistic underdog, doing what is right to fight injustice even at considerable risk. While Atticus knows that the other residents of his town will despise him for even defending a black man, he takes the case because he knows that it is the right thing to do – an aspiration that has become a clich