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Letter to the editor: The art of unlearning

Unlearning is less science than it is art. For beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.

Recently, Echo Journal columnist Pete Abler ("As I see it: What did you unlearn today?") laments removal of symbolisms from one tragic era of our nation's past: "... recently Confederate monuments and memorials are being dismantled in some cities and states to make it appear ... 'like they never even happened'."

Really? They happened: Millions of people were snared from their homes, locked in irons, loaded on ships like cattle and brought to the New World to work as slaves in the cotton fields of rich Southern landowners, white men without consciences.

Abler decries removal of such symbolisms, monuments, statues, those of Confederate statesmen and military generals, as being nothing more than visionary indignations by progressive cultural elitists.

Give me a break. Or, loan me headphones for the racist dog whistle he is blowing on.

In one sense, he's right. He writes, "... seek the truth in all things."

Unlearning, in another era, focused on what was deemed truthful by its executors, and, just like the Confederacy, was defined by what behaviors set those ideals apart from the rest. To this day, emblazoned over a bleak countryside monument, is an iron sign that proclaims, "Arbeit Macht Frei."

That chilling phrase greeted countless victims of the Nazi unlearning doctrine, "Work sets you free," before being undressed, stripped of their belongings, and gassed to death.

Unlearning, in this sense, deserves to die. So keep the monuments, the statues, not in places of honor in the public squares of our cities, but in museums; discuss them in classrooms, in textbooks and keep them on display in Auschwitz, Dachau, and never forget them.

Never unlearn the truth, and that will set you, and future generations, free.

Steven Olson,