Derek Black was royalty among U.S. white nationalists. His godfather, David Duke, is a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and his father founded one of the first white supremacist online forums, Stormfront. According to a profile in The Washington Post, at age 10, Mr. Black built a children’s version of the popular hate site; in high school, he hosted a radio show to promote the idea that immigration was leading to a white genocide. In the parlance of this year’s presidential contest, Derek Black would have fit comfortably in what Hillary Clinton called “the basket of deplorables.”
But the wunderkind of white pride did not take a victory lap when, in a speech about the alt-right this summer, Mrs. Clinton said Donald Trump was “helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.” Six years ago, Mr. Black enrolled at a small liberal arts school. He kept his racist views to himself and made some friends, including an immigrant from Peru and the only Orthodox Jew at the school.
When his internet alter ego was revealed in 2011, classmates felt betrayed and disgusted. But Matthew Stevenson decided ostracizing his friend would accomplish nothing; instead, he invited Mr. Black to Shabbat dinner. Over Friday meals and a contentious email thread, the Shabbat crew questioned and challenged Mr. Black, who reconsidered the views he was brought up with and formally renounced white nationalism in 2013.
Hate-hardened hearts are rarely won over in Twitter wars. But what Mr. Stevenson understood, and what our Catholic faith tells us, is that while some ideas—anti-Semitism and racism chief among them—are irredeemable, no person is beyond redemption.