Very few people called on Americans to "forgive"Al Qaeda.— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) June 21, 2015
Can't remember any grand campaign to "love" and "forgive" in the wake of ISIS beheadings.— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) June 21, 2015
On The Nightly Show, Reza Aslan made the same point regarding the Boston Marathon bombing:
“It was a big deal about the fact that -- despite the fact that [Roof] did not apologize -- that the victims were forgiving of him, it was splashed on the New York Times, everybody was talking about how amazing it was, that all this forgiveness for him.”So, are we going to forgive Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez for the Chattanooga shootings? You'd think we would, right? After all, Peggy Noonan told us that the words of forgiveness toward Dylann Roof "laid out the essence of Christianity, unedited and undiluted." Aren't we a predominantly Christian nation?
He continued: “Yet we’re having this argument, this debate about whether we should also forgive [Dzhokhar] Tsarnaev, and I’m just trying to figure out exactly what the difference between the two of them are, and I can’t figure out the difference between them.”
If words of forgiveness directed at Roof were what helped to get the Confederate battle flag removed from South Carolina's capitol grounds, I suppose I'm pleased -- but it offends me that we needed black people to completely put aside an entirely justifiable anger before we would do the decent thing with regard to that flag. Oh, but those family members were forgiving one of us, a white guy, so it was appropriate.
In other cases, we expect murder victims to be angry -- it's even okay if you're black and angry, as long as the murder that stoked your rage is one that stokes the majority culture's rage. (I'm thinking of the killing of Jamiel Shaw, a black teenager, by an undocumented immigrant in 2008; Donald Trump and Shaw's father, who's denounced U.S. immigration policy since the murder, now speak admiringly of each other.)
I'm not advocating forgiveness in any of these cases -- in a similar situation, I can't imagine that I'd forgive. But let's not pretend, as Americans, that we think forgiveness is the proper, Christian response to murder. We only seemed to think that in one case.