Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Coming Clean about Brown v. Board of Education"

All the eminent early critics of Brown were clear that the outcome of the case was morally right and eminently desirable as public policy; and with the "Massive Resisters"—those Southern politicians and their allies in the press determined to prevent any school desegregation-disinterring arguments about "state sovereignty" and "interposition" thought to have perished at Appomattox, persons of good will had no choice but to rally round the Court. Even if some of the Southern arguments against Brown struck home—(how, for instance, if the Fourteenth Amendment had actually forbidden the states to maintain racially separate schools, had that fact gone essentially unremarked for almost a century?),it was best not to admit it, even to oneself.

But the moratorium on serious discussion could not last. It began to crumble because of scholarly works in the seventies (notably Richard Kluger's Simple Justice) detailing how the decision in Brown had come about. While the tenor of this literature was reverential, deeply troubling disclosures kept popping up.

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