‘To Bigotry No Sanction, To Persecution No Assistance’

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“The Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” — George Washington, in a speech to Hebrew congregation of Newport, RI, 1790, before ratification of the First Amendment. Washington acknowledged passed persecution of Jews in Europe and stated that the new nation would not tolerate bigotry, specifically in this case anti-Semitism.

On a trip to Chicago, in historic Heald Square, I stumbled upon this statue of George Washington clasping hands with founding fathers Haym Salomon and Robert Morris, who were instrumental in raising the funds and supplies for the revolutionary army. Salomon was a Polish born Jew who helped convert loans from France into cash at his own considerable financial peril. After the war was won, due to the failure of governments and private lenders to repay debts for the war that he secured, he and his family were left penniless. He died at the age of 44 after a lingering illness.

It so happened that I encountered the statue at the moment one Sunday in August when demonstrators were protesting the Charlottesville, VA murder of Heather Heyer, a civil rights activist by a white supremacist with his car. Heyer often used the slogan, “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention,” and many of the Chicago protesters carried signs with the same slogan.

The protests were held in front of Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago, the fourth tallest building in the US, in hopes of sending a message to President Trump that his statements on the Charlottesville murder were inadequate. The building is a regular rallying venue for protests against Trump.

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I had trouble photographing the statue of Washington, Solomon and Morris in a way that the inscription was readable. Other photographers had similar difficulty. No photo on the Flickr sharing site captures the quotation and the three men well.

(Photo By Jim Buie)

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