Miss Gates says, "Over here we don't believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced." Why is this ironic?

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During a Current Events activity in Scout 's third-grade class, Cecil Jacobs describes an article he read about Adolf Hitler's persecution of the European Jews, which leads to classroom discussion about the differences between the United States and Germany. After Miss Gates describes the difference between a democracy and dictatorship,...

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During a Current Events activity in Scout's third-grade class, Cecil Jacobs describes an article he read about Adolf Hitler's persecution of the European Jews, which leads to classroom discussion about the differences between the United States and Germany. After Miss Gates describes the difference between a democracy and dictatorship, she tells the class,

Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced (Lee, 249).

The irony of Miss Gates's statement is that she is prejudiced against black people and lives in a racist, segregated society which subscribes to Jim Crow laws that discriminate against and oppress black people. Later that night, Scout attempts to discuss Miss Gates's hypocrisy with her brother and recalls hearing her teacher make racist comments when she left the courthouse following the Tom Robinson trial. Scout tells Jem,

Well, coming out of the courthouse that night Miss Gates was—she was goin‘ down the steps in front of us, you musta not seen her—she was talking with Miss Stephanie Crawford. I heard her say it’s time somebody taught ’em a lesson, they were gettin‘ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us (Lee, 250).

Overall, Miss Gates's comment about there being no such thing as prejudice in America is ironic because she is a racist living in a prejudiced community that subscribes to Jim Crow laws.

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In To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Miss Gates is Scout's school teacher. This line is taken from the scene where she is teaching the class about Hitler and the persecution of the Jews. It is ironic because Scout overhears Miss Gates coming out of the courthouse after the verdict is over. Ms. Gates turns to Miss Stephanie Crawford and comments how it is about time someone taught the blacks in the community a lesson. Here she is, trying to teach her students about how horrible discrimination and prejudice are, but she is no better than the people of whom she speaks. Even though Scout is very young, she realizes how hypocritical Miss Gates is and even comments about it to her brother, Jem. Jem becomes very upset with Scout and demands that she never discuss the trial again.

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