Christianity and not Christianity for thernsake of them. Christianity will indeedrnaccomplish many useful things in thisrnworld, but if it is accepted in order to accomplishrnthose useful things, it is notrnChristianity.”rnMs. Waldman, of course, does notrneven ask us to “accept” Christianity orrnany other faith—only to appear to acceptrnreligion to advance her dubious neoliberalrnnostrums. She calls on her political alliesrnto use the language and imagery ofrnother peoples’ faiths for worldly gain. Torndo so is to trivialize religious faith, cheapenrnthe political discourse, and demeanrnthe very causes she seeks to advance.rnSuch utterances reveal more aboutrntheir utterer and her inability to understandrnthe nature of faith than anythingrnelse. One is tempted to tell Ms. Waldmanrnwhat Mark Twain said to his wifernwhen he heard her swearing: “You knowrnthe words, my dear, but you don’t knowrnthe tune.”rnAlan Pell Crawford, author of Thunderrnon the Right: The ‘New Right’ and thernPolitics of Resentment, is senior counselorrnat Martin Public Relations in Richmond,rnVirginia.rnPlessy V. Ferguson-rnOne HundredrnYears Laterrnby William J. Watkins, Jr.rnOne hundred years ago this May,rnPlessy V. Ferguson was decided.rnThe Supreme Court’s 1896 decision upheldrnLouisiana’s law that required allrnpassenger railways operating within thernstate to have “equal but separate accommodationsrnfor the white and coloredrnraces.” Over the years, the import of therndecision and public perceptions of suchrnstate regulations have been misunderstoodrnand at times purposely distorted.rnScholars have described the decision asrnthe incarceration of blacks in “the Plessyrnprison.” The real prison, however, holdsrnall Americans and was built on an unwillingnessrnto examine objectively thisrnimportant period in American history.rnThough Plessy receives enormousrnattention today in classrooms and inrndiscussions of race relations (especiallyrnJustice John Marshall Harlan’s dissentingrnopinion invoking the concept of a colorblindrnConstitution), the decision wasrnlargely ignored for many years. Thernnewspapers of the day that did not disregardrnthe Court’s pronouncement gavernit but scant attention. The New YorkrnTimes, for instance, barely mentionedrnPlessy in its weekly column on railwayrnnews.rnRoutine affirmations of state regulationsrnwere hardly newsworthy in thern1890’s. The War Between the States didrnchange the nature of state and nationalrnrelations, but the majority of citizens stillrnaccepted that the states were sovereignrnwithin their proper sphere.rnSeparate accommodations, ratherrnthan being vehicles for white supremacy,rnwere viewed in a different light thanrnthey are today. Several black legislatorsrninvolved in earlier Reconstructionrngovernments actually sought to enactrnlegislation for separate but equal accommodations.rnRobert Smalls, a black congressmanrnfrom South Carolina, declaredrnin 1884 that he had “no objection tornriding in a separate car when the car isrnof the same character as that providedrnfor white people to ride in.” Booker T.rnWashington applauded Alabama’s railroadrncommissioners for instituting separaternbut equal accommodations just onernyear before Plessy and made it clear thatrn”it is not the separation that we complainrnof, but the unequality of accommodation.”rnBlacks, who purchased firstclassrntickets and were subjected to thernfilth of the smoking car or other substandardrnaccommodations, had good reasonrnto remonstrate. Long trips in such conditionsrnwere not just uncomfortable, butrnhazardous to one’s health.rnIn spite of a justice system that wasrnfrequently hostile to them, blacks turnedrnto the courts to demand equal accommodations.rnIt was quite elementary forrnthem to prove that a seat in the baggagernor smoking car was not equal to that ofrnhrst or second class. The success of blackrnplaintiffs enshrined separate-but-equalrnin common law. The Supreme Courtrnrecognized this in 1878 when it upheldrnseparate-but-equal in the common lawrnof common carriers in Hall v. Decuir.rnCleariy, Plessy was not the bombshellrnthat it has been so recently billed. Staternand federal courts had consistently upheldrnseparate-but-equal for years. Lowerrncourts had even declared that separatebut-rnequal did not conflict with the CivilrnRights Act of 1875, which prohibitedrnracial discrimination in access to publicrnaccommodations (and was declared unconstitutionalrnin 1883).rnModern accounts of Plessy seldomrnmention that blacks often fought forrnseparate-but-equal in legislatures andrncourts. Because scholars find it difficultrnto explain the acceptance of such segregation,rnthey normally conclude that conditionsrnwere so bad for blacks that almostrnanything was considered an improvement.rnIn many cases this was no doubtrntrue. The freedmen faced much hostilityrnand very difficult circumstances.rnHowever, such an explanation ignores,rnin the words of Eugene D. Genovese,rn”that black nationalism represents an authenticrntendency within black America,rnrather than a pathological response tornoppression.” A nation, united by commonrnfolkways and culture must, to somernextent, separate itself from the culturesrnof rival nations to remain intact. Thisrnhas been extremely challenging for blackrnAmerica, considering the subjugationrnand the alien culture forced upon themrnin slavery. And though separate accommodationsrncertainly are not necessary forrnthe preservation of culture, the acceptancernof the need of some type of separationrnto preserve a culture explains why itrnwas tolerated.rnBlack attitudes at the time are muchrneasier to understand if one remembersrnthat much of the black intellectual environmentrnin the years before and afterrnPlessy favored some sort of separation.rnMany blacks, for instance, were involvedrnin various “back to Africa” movements.rnBefore the War Between the States, thernFriendly Society for the Emigration ofrnEree Negroes, founded by a free blackrnshipowner, took a number of familiesrnback to Africa. Martin R. Delany, coeditorrnwith Frederick Douglass of the NorthrnStar, explored the region of the NigerrnRiver and signed agreements with severalrnAfrican kings for a settlement of emigrantsrnfrom America. More noteworthyrnwere the activities of Bishop HenryrnMcNeal Turner and his calls for blackrnemigration in the years between the WarrnBetween the States and World War I.rnCertainly not all blacks favored emigration.rnMost only wanted to be left inrnpeace in America to farm and raise theirrnchildren. But among those who desiredrnAUGUST 1996/45rnrnrn