Re: “Relics of a racist past” (Feb. 24): Concerning the headline of the column published in my name, “legacies” is a more appropriate description than “relics.” We need to understand the distinction between a real and mythical legacy. There is a direct connection between white antebellum Northern racial attitudes and today’s racial issues. An understanding of our racial history is more than an antiquarian exercise. It would be frivolous to just dismiss the past as racist.

In science, it is generally possible to ignore history, because discoveries offer a clean break, but one cannot avoid history when dealing with human nature.

As William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Gene Dattel

Lakeville, Conn.

Feb. 26

The writer is a 1966 graduate of Berkeley College.