Sunday, November 18, 2018 -
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America, not Dylann Roof, should be forgiven

In an expression of extraordinary magnanimity, relatives of the black church members murdered in Charleston, SC, 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 they have inflicted. If I steal from you, you have the right to forgive me, but your best friend does not.

If Jones rapes my daughter, my daughter may 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.

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 Jesus the model for this idea. He forgave those who crucified him, not all those who crucified others.

Second, I am not aware of Roof having repented. Even G-d Himself doesn’t forgive those who never repent.

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 just last week.

The rest of this article is available in the June 26 IJN print and digital edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at or subscribe to our online e-Edition.

Dennis Prager

Columnist | Conservative Lens

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