Malcolm Gladwell uses the 50th of To Kill a Mockingbird to deconstruct the novel's meaning, specifically the role of Atticus Finch. He makes an asymmetrical comparison to Big Jim Folsom, an Alabama pol (who clearly evokes O'Brother Where Art Thou). His premise is focused on the idea that racism has personal elements (an area where Folsom and Atticus did just fine by Gladwell) and structural elements (a place where both failed miserably in their desire for accommodation an compromise).

Finch will stand up to racists. He’ll use his moral authority to shame them into silence. He will leave the judge standing on the sidewalk while he shakes hands with Negroes. What he will not do is look at the problem of racism outside the immediate context of Mr. Cunningham, Mr. Levy, and the island community of Maycomb, Alabama.

Folsom was the same way. He knew the frailties of his fellow-Alabamians when it came to race. But he could not grasp that those frailties were more than personal—that racism had a structural dimension.

Others are not so sure that Gladwell is on the right tact. Notably the folks at the New Republic
who point out the limits of comparing a real life politician with a fictional lawyer, but more importantly;

Gladwell has managed to recycle all the old criticisms of this novel, but somehow he has translated them in such a way as to make them appear less convincing, less serious, and less interesting than one would have thought possible.

I personally love this novel, and will use any excuse to revisit it. So excuse me while I pour an Arnold Palmer and take a gander once again.