America, Not Dylann Roof, Should Be Forgiven

(Win McNamee/Getty)

In an expression of extraordinary magnanimity, relatives of the black church members murdered in Charleston, S.C., arose one after the other to tell Dylann Roof, the murderer of their loved ones, that they forgive him.

That I do not agree with what they did in no way diminishes my ability to be moved by their gesture.

But I do not agree with it.

First, consistent with my religion, Judaism, I do not believe that anyone but the actual victim has the right to forgive someone for the evil he has inflicted. If I steal from you, you have the right to forgive me, but your best friend doesn’t. If Jones rapes my daughter, my daughter can forgive Jones, but I cannot. Among other reasons, I don’t own my daughter; and, as pained as I would be, I wasn’t the person raped.

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Many Christians believe that their faith demands forgiveness of everyone for everything. I don’t know why they believe this. Certainly that is not standard Catholic or Protestant doctrine. Nor is Christ the model for this idea. He forgave those who crucified him, not all those who crucified others.

Second, I am not aware of Roof’s having repented. And even God Himself doesn’t forgive those who never repent.

Great numbers of black Americans seem to be unable or unwilling to forgive America for sins committed by whites who are long dead.

Third, regarding whites, blacks, and crimes, we seem to inhabit a strange moral universe. Great numbers of black Americans seem to be unable or unwilling to forgive America — specifically white Americans — for sins committed by whites who are long dead. But many seem to support the forgiveness of a white man who murdered nine blacks last week.

The families of the murdered blacks speak eloquently and movingly about preferring forgiveness to feeling anger and hate toward a man who murdered their loved ones just days ago. But millions of blacks seem to prefer feeling anger and hate toward a vast number of their fellow Americans who have never wronged them or any other black American. Indeed, most American whites don’t even have ancestors who ever wronged blacks.

The truth is that the vast majority of white Americans are not racist.

This is demonstrated by the lengths to which those who contend that white Americans are racist must go to “prove” their case.

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For example, they fabricate the falsehood that civil-service and SAT tests are anti-black because whites do better on those exams. Yet, first-generation Asian Americans also do better than blacks. And how can a math question be racially biased? And as regards non-math questions, the public is almost never shown what questions are racially biased — lest the charge of “racist” questions be revealed as absurd.

They have also made up the absurdity of “microaggressions” — the notion that, while overt racism in society has largely been done away with, innocuous-sounding questions or comments that may have no racist intent whatsoever are actually filled with anti-black venom. One example of a “microaggression” is when a white person says, “I don’t see color; I just see human beings.”

Even though such a sentiment is precisely the ideal to which all decent people should aspire — judging every human being by his or her character, not race — we are supposed to judge this sentiment racist.

#related#The late, great writer and psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl, author of the worldwide bestseller Man’s Search for Meaning, was asked after the Holocaust whether he “hated the German race.” Members of Frankl’s family had been murdered, and he himself had suffered the horrors of incarceration in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.

“No,” he replied. “There are only two races — the decent and the indecent.”

According to current mainstream black (and left-wing white) thinking on “microaggressions,” Frankl’s response would now be considered racist.

How is it that so many people can forgive an unrepentant mass murderer a week after he murdered their child, parent, or sibling but not forgive a society that has repented, atoned, and created the best place in the world for a black human being to live?

— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at


Dennis Prager — Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His second volume of Bible commentary, The Rational Bible — Genesis: God, Creation, Destruction, is published by Regnery.  He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at

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