The subject of our third remarkable story is Derek Black, the scion of famous white supremacists. His father, Don Black, was the brains behind Stormfront, the Internet’s first and biggest white nationalist site with 300,000 users. His mother, Chloe, had been married to David Duke, who was Derek’s godfather. “They had raised Derek at the forefront of the movement, and some white nationalists had begun calling him ‘the heir’,” the Washington Post reports ,
Black was outed on his college campus as an anti-Semite. But one of his classmates, Matthew Stevenson, the only Orthodox Jew on campus, decided to invite Black to a Shabbat meal.
“It was the only social invitation Derek had received since returning to campus, so he agreed to go,” writes the Washington Post. Stevenson told the other guests, “Let’s try to treat him like anyone else.”
Pretty soon, Black became a regular at these Shabbat meals. And eventually, Black, like Phelps-Roper and the two hundred men (and women) Davis befriended, renounced the ideas that had once filled him with such hatred.
I am not made of the same fiber of Davis, Abitbol or Stevenson. I spent the entire Republican primary being attacked by white nationalists and landed myself on a top ten list compiled by the ADL of Jewish journalists targeted by them. Unlike these three remarkable human beings, I did not engage with any of these individuals as human beings once. But maybe I should have, and maybe I should in the future. Because hating people for being hateful obviously isn’t getting us anywhere.
Someone once tweeted, “There is not a single good person who voted for Trump. Not one.” To which Federalist writer Tom Nichols responded, “This is a recipe for a second Trump term.”
…It’s time to admit that even in the wake of Charlottesville – especially in the wake of Charlottesville – the only way we’re going to get our country back is to change minds. This might mean we need to start befriending nazis.
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