In Wake of Pittsburgh, “To Bigotry Give No Sanction” - Guest MINDSETTER™ Renehan
Monday, October 29, 2018
Accompanied by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, New York Governor George Clinton, Supreme Court Justice John Blair, and South Carolina Congressmen William Loughton Smith, President George Washington visited Newport and Touro in August of 1790.
All of Newport’s leading clergy, politicians, and civic leaders turned out to greet the party, many of them reading letters of greeting. Among these stood Moses Seixas, Rabbi of Jeshuat Israel, who declared:
Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now (with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events) behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People — a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance — but generously affording to All liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language, equal parts of the great governmental Machine …
Washington picked up on Seixas’ key phrase a few days after leaving Newport when he wrote a letter of thanks to the Jewish congregation in which he stated:
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, 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. …
May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.
Washington was at this time busy lobbying various state legislatures for ratification of the what would become the Bill of Rights, this incorporating the vital First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion, the press, and speech. The fact that Roger Williams founded Rhode Island based on the principle of religious freedom was lost on no-one. Washington knew his letter would be given wide circulation.
To bigotry give no sanction is a noble phrase. Of course, our country has time and again fallen short of this goal. Indeed, at the time of Washington’s visit, Newport was a town with no shortage of black slaves. (The same could be said, of course, for the plantations owned by Washington and Jefferson.)
Today we continue to fall short. In fact, we find ourselves in an era of revived and invigorated intolerance, this characterized in general by a marked decline in cultural empathy and generosity – and in particular by outbursts of violence such as we saw in Pittsburgh this past weekend. That bigotry which has for so long been shamed into the shadows now feels confident to come out into the light of day, both on the streets and on social media. The rhetorical climate has shifted. Utterances we would formally have found astonishing seem no longer even surprising.
We have mobs marching through the streets of Charlottesville chanting: “Jews shall not replace us.” We have a Holocaust denier and self-identified Nazi running as the Republican congressional candidate in the Third House District of Illinois. We have an Idaho-based neo-Nazi organization financing racist robocalls against Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum, a black man. And we have the Anti-Defamation League telling us that the year 2017 saw a 57 percent rise in anti-Semitic occurrences throughout the United States: bomb threats, vandalism to houses of worship, assaults, and distribution of anti-Semitic posters and literature.
But we also have the more than 3000 Pittsburgh residents of all faiths and races who turned out for a vigil the day after the attack. And because of them, we have hope.
Related Slideshow: Incidents of Hate: Racism, Anti-Semitism, and Politics—See All the Numbers, Oct 2018
Map produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Total Hate Crimes in RI — Harassment, Vandalism and Assaults
Southern Poverty Law Center Identifies Three Hate Groups Operating in RI
Rhode Island (statewide) NEO-NAZI
Traditionalist Worker Party
Rhode Island (statewide) NEO-NAZITRADITIONALIST WORKER PARTY
Gallows Tree Wotansvolk Alliance
Rhode Island (statewide) NEO-VOLKISCH
Southern Poverty Law Center Identifies Ten Hate Groups Operating in MA
Concerned Citizens and Friends of Illegal Immigration Law Enforcement
Framingham, Massachusetts GENERAL HATE
The Daily Stormer
Massachusetts (statewide) NEO-NAZI
Waltham, Massachusetts ANTI-LGBT
Nation of Islam
Dorchester, Massachusetts BLACK NATIONALIST NATION OF ISLAM
ACT for America
Boston, Massachusetts ANTI-MUSLIMACT FOR AMERICA
Israel United In Christ
Boston, Massachusetts BLACK NATIONALIST
Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge
Lynn, Massachusetts BLACK NATIONALIST
Nation of Islam
Springfield, MassachusettsBLACK NATIONALIST NATION OF ISLAM
Abiding Truth Ministries
Springfield, Massachusetts ANTI-LGBT
Southern Poverty Law Center Identifies six Hate Groups Operating in CT
Connecticut (statewide) GENERAL HATE
The Daily Stormer
Connecticut (statewide) NEO-NAZI
ACT for America
Cheshire, ConnecticutANTI-MUSLIM ACT FOR AMERICA
United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors/All Eyes on Egipt
Hartford, Connecticut BLACK NATIONALIST NUWAUBIAN NATION OF MOORS
Hartford, Connecticut NEO-NAZI
Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ
Bridgeport, Connecticut BLACK NATIONALIST
Total Hate Crimes in MA — Harassment, Vandalism and Assaults
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