By Kara Schectman
On Sunday, Feb. 11, the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth welcomed 2,500 guests and the 64th Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to the McFarlin Auditorium on the SMU Campus. Albright discussed her latest New York Times #1 Bestseller Fascism: A Warning. Albright is the first female U.S. Secretary of State, serving in the Clinton administration from 1997-2001. Prior to her nomination, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and was a member of the National Security Council.
Albright was joined by Council President and CEO Jim Falk for a conversation on 20th-century fascism, current fascist trends, U.S. foreign policy and President Donald Trump. At the end of the discussion, Albright delighted the audience with several stories about her diplomatic use of brooches and pins saying, “You could always tell if it was going to be a good day or a bad based on my pin and sometimes, they [the pins] got me in trouble.”
Albright has been a vocal critic of President Trump since his election. She is especially critical of his administration’s antipathy for multilateralism, particularly in regards to treaties, NATO and the UN.
“Sometimes it is good to shake things up,” she said, “but I am not sure there is a strategy behind it.”
Despite these criticisms, she does not count Trump among other fascist leaders.
“Trump is not a fascist, but he is certainly the least democratic president in modern U.S. history,” Albright said.
However, Albright, an immigrant from then-Czechoslovakia, identified Trump’s scapegoating of immigrants as an element of fascism. She commented on the marked difference between the rhetoric of today and the post-WWII era.
“When we went to the UK, they would say ‘I’m sorry your country has been taken over by a dictator. You are welcome here. How can we help you? When are you going home?’” Albright said.
“When we came to the U.S. they would say ‘I’m sorry your country has been taken over by a dictator. You are welcome here. How can we help you? When will you become a citizen?’”
As a feminist icon, Albright’s story has empowered countless women who grew up observing her dignified and graceful global presence. As she put it on Sunday, “I found my voice, and, well, I never shut up.”
The event was presented in partnership with the Dallas Museum of Arts: Arts and Letters Live series and sponsored in part by Pegasus Bank. A book signing followed the program.