How Flannery O’Connor fought racism...

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In a recent New Yorker essay, Paul Elie asks, “How Racist Was Flannery O’Connor?” His headline aims to be incendiary, to rile people up, to give us a scapegoat for our rage against racism. Racism is obviously a serious sin. But Elie’s portrait of the author is incomplete. Because he misreads much of O’Connor’s writing, he concludes that she was unrepentantly racist. But O’Connor did not embrace bigotry. Like all of us, she was a sinner who struggled to purge herself of prejudices she knew were immoral. And she boldly fought racism—in both others and in herself—the best way she knew how: by writing stories.

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