Thursday, 26 January 2017

Madeleine, the Muslim

"I was raised Catholic, became Episcopalian & found out later my family was Jewish. I stand ready to register as Muslim in #solidarity."
Madeleine Albright, Tweet from 25 January 2017

"If you force Muslims to register, we will all register as Muslims."
Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Jana Korbel Albright, the first woman to become the United States Secretary of State, was born in the district of Prague in 1937. Her parents had converted from Judaism to Catholicism, never talked about their Jewish background and raised their daughter in Roman Catholicism. In fact, she only learned in her adulthood that her parents had originally been Jewish and that many of her Jewish relatives had been victims of the Holocaust.
As her father was a strong supporter of Edvard Beneš, the family was forced into exile and Madeleine spent the war years in Britain. There, she appeared as a refugee child in a film that was produced to promote sympathy for war refugees in London. After the collapse of Nazi Germany, Madeleine moved back to Prague with her family, then Belgrade. In 1948, the family emigrated to the United States where Madeleine's father applied for political asylum. At the time of her marriage in 1959, she converted to Episcopalianism (via).
Recently, she declared she was ready to register as Muslim as the introduction of a Muslim registry and the "total and complete shut down of Muslims" have been announced (via).
"I’m very proud of my Czechoslovak background, but my identity the way I describe it now: I am an American, I am a mother, I am a grandmother, I am a Democrat, I came from Jewish heritage, I was a Roman Catholic, I am a practicing Episcopalian, I am somebody who is devoted to human rights, I am somebody who believes in an international community and I can’t separate those things. ... I can trace these various parts as having a profound influence on me in one form or another." Madeleine Albright
"This year, Passover and Easter were around the same time, so I went to a Passover seder with one of my friends, Rabbi David Saperstein ... and on Easter Sunday, I went to Harper’s Ferry for Easter sunrise service, which was an ecumenical service. Putting all the stories together, what it makes me think is the extent to which people have a need to believe ... the idea that while we may be divided according to various religions, what is interesting is the similarities of the stories, of people yearning for something and being saved and having the hope of having a better life. Also, the whole aspect of charity and forgiveness and generosity — these are common in all religions as far as I can tell. It’s interesting, I was always the most most religious member of my family. ... Even as a little girl, I played priest. I really find there is a comfort in religion and it doesn’t matter which of the various traditions, it’s a similar aspect. ... The thing that makes me the saddest is the divisions created by religion when it should be the opposite. ... I look for the common threads rather than the divisive ones." Madeleine Albright
"During the Kosovo War, one of the things I did was to hold daily conference calls with the other foreign ministers of NATO. We had the British, the French, the Germans, the Italians and me on the phone. The Italian foreign minister said ‘Why don’t we pause the bombing because it’s Easter?’ And the German official said, ‘Why would we pause to honor one religion while we kill the people of another religion?’ I thought it was one of the most amazing statements in terms of the commonness of identity and the importance of making the right moral decisions." Madeleine Albright
In 1937, Adolf Eichmann's department decided to "concentrate entirely on the total registration of Jews in the Jewish Registry" (Aly & Roth, 2004):
"The registry is of value because it can determine, in addition to purely personal information, the biological, the state-political, (and) the criminal circumstances in view of ethnic German (völkischer), economic, and moral considerations. It is crucial for the non-Germanic registry that each examinee be registered based on his race and family relations." 

- - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - -
- Aly, G. & Roth, K. H. (2004). The Nazi Census. Identification and Control in the Third Reich. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
- photograph by Stephen Voss via and via