I think that Brook Thomas undersells himself -- his first posts were clear on the points he was making. The clarification is appreciated but not really necessary.
I said that I had posted my final comment on this issue. But seeing that Paul and David have been put into the position of trying to clarify the confusion I provoked, I will make one more stab at articulating my point about BROWN’s relation to PLESSY.
As the discussion of Lois’s initial post developed, I sensed a consensus that, collectively, professionally trained historians do a relatively good job of correcting previous misinterpretations. I agree, but I also thought that it was worth noting examples when some misunderstandings persist even with specialists.
If I might, I’d like to venture a few of my own takeaways from the discussion to date as a means of suggesting that it isn’t quite so disconnected or fatuous. In fact, there are a number of points that speak to Lois’s concerns, if sometimes indirectly. As always, pardon my love of bullet points.
I have no idea what Brook means by this, or what Lofgren meant. "Charles Lofgren's THE PLESSY CASE: A LEGAL-HISTORICAL INTERPETATION. Lofgren carefully researched Supreme Court history and found that only one case had officially been overturned as unconstitutional." I also have not idea what Lofgren meant by "unconstitutional." Or what Brook means? Does he mean the decision itself was "unconstitutional" which in effect is an impossibility, since a Court decision cannot be unconstitutional.
I tend to think that this is less complicated than we are making it. All history is at best a fuzzy approximation of reality and while we might strive to focus it as best as possible, we never quite manage. There's no shame or problem in a straightforward acknowledgment of that situation -- the value of history is not in its perfectly accurate rendition of the past, it's in the careful delineation of the past as best as possible *with* the sources and methods of that delineation mentioned and marked. The binary reduction of "right vs.
A few additional comments and then I am done with this discussion.
I enjoyed reading Hugh's post. James Joyce once said that he never finished ULYSSES; he simply abandoned it.
I am sorry that no one directly addressed Lois's crucial concern. Perhaps these will be a better response--probably not.
After reading Lois's latest contribution, let me say that the blog is a conversation that develops points made in replies; my replies generally have been to comments by Dave and Brook because I don’t have a problem with many of the points Lois has made. I think she misunderstands me, for which I take the blame.
For strategic reasons, in Brown the NAACP did not seek to overturn Plessy. It was enough to win the point that in education separate but equal had no place.
I agreed with much of Brook Thomas’s discussion of myth and fact in Reconstruction historiography, although I’d quibble with him on some, and on others the distinctions make little difference (surely not to African Americans as to whether federal troops went to their barracks or left the state). On "myth" and the Lost Cause, I suggest Gary Gallagher's discussion of the factual underpinning for Lost Cause mythmaking about Lee and others, in his "Shaping Public Memory of the Civil War: Robert E. Lee, Jubal A.