The topic of Adolf Hitler came up one day in class. The students asked questions about Hitler and how he was persecuting the Jews. Miss Gates made it clear that the United States was different from Germany:
"Over here we don't believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced. Prejudice," she enunciated carefully. "There are no better people in the world than the Jews, and why Hitler doesn't think so is a mystery to me" (To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 26).
Miss Gates failed to acknowledge the injustices that African Americans in Maycomb faced. Tom Robinson was convicted of a crime by a white jury even though evidence showed that he did not commit it. Tom's wife was having trouble finding work because of her husband's trial. Black residents of Maycomb faced the harsh realities of segregation.
Scout felt uneasy about what her teacher said in class. Later, she discussed it with Jem. Leaving the courthouse during the trial, Scout had overheard Miss Gates talking. The teacher talked about how how the blacks of Maycomb should be taught a lesson. She expressed her views against interracial marriage. Scout asked her brother about it:
"How can you hate Hitler so bad an' then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home[?]"