President Trump is expected to announce plans to issue an extensive anti-immigrant executive order, which would include an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees entering the U.S. and a 120-day ban on all immigration. After those 120 days have passed, immigration from several majority-Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, will still be suspended. These policies are perceived by many as Islamophobic; the president has said there will be no Muslim registry.
The anti-immigration measures are cause for concern for former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who took to Twitter to reference her Jewish heritage and show solidarity with Muslims:
I was raised Catholic, became Episcopalian & found out later my family was Jewish. I stand ready to register as Muslim in #solidarity.
— Madeleine Albright (@madeleine) January 25, 2017
Albright, who almost exactly twenty years ago became the first woman ever to serve as Secretary of State, discovered shortly thereafter that her family was Jewish and that three of her grandparents had been killed in the Holocaust. Albright was born in Prague in 1937 and immigrated with her parents to the United States at age 2, immediately after the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia. Her parents, Josef and Mandula Korbel, had both converted to Catholicism and did not tell their daughter of either their Jewish past or the tragic fate of their families. From The Washington Post, in 1997:
Like many other assimilated Czech Jews, Albright’s father, Josef Korbel, considered himself a Czechoslovak patriot first and rarely referred to his religious background. Under the racial laws introduced by the Nazis following the takeover of Czechoslovakia, however, a family like the Korbels would have been considered 100 percent Jewish.
“I have always thought of myself as a Czechoslovak Catholic,” Albright said. “My parents were of the generation who thought they were the children of a free Czechoslovakia, the only democracy in central Europe. This was their pride [and] that is what I grew up with.”
Albright, whose daughter married a Jewish man and is raising her children Jewish, has spoken and written about learning of her Jewish heritage as a practicing Christian. She attends an Episcopalian church.
As the grandchild of Holocaust victims and as an immigrant whose family’s ability to come to the United States likely saved their lives, Albright’s vocal support of a marginalized group in the face of the President’s anti-refugee policies is very meaningful. One can only hope that the president will take the story and words of this inspiring woman shaper of American political history into account.
On a conference call, Sec. @madeleine Albright reiterates her promise to add her name to any Muslim registry.
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) January 26, 2017
VoxVault: Madeleine Albright’s War Years