More on Brown

A commenter writes:

The Brown v. Board decision should not be taken as the last word on the subject. The aim of Normals (Normals are people who prefer normalness, or so-called “conservatism,” to degenerateness, or so-called “liberalism”) should be the overthrow of Brown exactly as it is the overthrow of Roe.

I think there’s something to this. Brown is quite a radical decision. From the standpoint of formal legal support it comes out of nowhere, and the Court immediately applied it without further argument to illegalize any sort of state racial classification and so overthrow long-established institutions. Evidently it stands for some principle that’s overwhelmingly strong and far-reaching.

Later developments—which those who pushed for Brown accepted as plainly correct and in fact necessary—cast light on what that principle is. The busing cases said that the rule that racial classifications are so bad the Court doesn’t need a law to command schools and cities to turn themselves upside down to get rid of them applies even to indirect racial classifications based on housing patterns. Grutter confirmed the view that racial classifications—otherwise inconceivably evil—are nonetheless good when they have the “benign” purpose of promoting diversity, neutralizing institutional racism, and so on. So the real point of Brown seems to be that as a matter of fundamental justice any tolerable legal order must treat the social existence of ethnic distinctions as an intolerable evil to be eradicated by all necessary means.

I don’t think a more limited reading of Brown works. A more limited reading would say that it’s OK if there’s some private racial separation in fact even though state-supported separation is bad. But if private separation is OK, why is the principle that it’s impermissible for the state to accommodate it, for example by allowing different schools for different communities, so strong that it precedes all positive constitutional law? And if the more limited reading doesn’t work, then the whole of multiculturalism is implicit in Brown. That’s what civil rights organizations believe. Why aren’t they the best interpreters of their own victories?

1 thought on “More on Brown”

  1. I think this riveting
    I think this riveting analysis of the underlying implications of Brown v. Board of Ed. is exactly right. I also think that some of the principals who were involved in this decision at the time understood these to be its implications (and others of them hadn’t a clue, of course).


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