Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright shares pins, political views

Maria Mendez

Some people wear their heart on their sleeve, but former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wore her foreign policy stances on her chest — with pins.

Wearing a Lone Star and cowboy pin, Albright discussed her career as the first female secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton and her views on current events at the LBJ Presidential Library on Thursday.

After being called “an unparalleled serpent” by Saddam Hussein in the 1990s, Albright wore a serpent pin and told the world to “read her pins” during her time as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Since then, Albright used decorative pins to mark her policies and achievements. 

Although people sometimes called her pins’ statements bold, Albright said she views President Trump’s current social media strategy as more dangerous.

“My approach was actually more subtle,” Albright said. “You cannot make serious foreign policy statements with tweets. You need a strategy. ‘Making America great again’ or ‘Making America first’ is not a strategy.”

The traveling exhibit “Read My Pins” includes more than 200 pins, each of which carries stories of Albright’s diplomatic strategies in the U.S. and abroad. Albright does not think President Trump’s reactive tweets are the right way to handle international affairs, especially with North Korea. 

“Diplomacy is a way to talk with those you disgree,” Albright said. “It’s not a gift. It’s a tool. It is a strategy.”

Albright, who migrated to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia as a 10-year-old, also critiqued Trump’s immigration policies and “stupid border wall.” She emphasized that the U.S. needs to protect DACA students and create generous immigration policies that celebrate diversity. 

“I’m an immigrant myself,” Albright said. “I have the greatest sympathy for the DACA students, for the Dreamers. What is America about if it’s not about dreaming?”

Today, Albright shares her opinions loudly, but said it took her a while to develop her voice in the often all-male world of politics. 

During the exhibit tour, she pointed to a pin she wore to a meeting where she was the only female in a room of 10 ministers. She also highlighted a glass pin gifted to her to commemorate her role as the highest female official as secretary of state for Bill Clinton. 

For young women interested in a political career like hers, Albright said getting involved and working hard are key.

“Young women need to interrupt and find their voice,” Albright said. “I’m counting on a lot of young women to really stay active activists in defending democracy and each other.”

With today’s political climate, Albright said all college students should become involved in politics by staying informed on current events and voicing their concerns to politicians. To be effective, students should learn to listen to university guest speakers and political views they may disagree with. As a former foreign U.S. diplomat, Albright said finding common ground with others is necessary.

“It’s a time more than ever for students to need to keep up with political events,” Albright said. “Listen to news and things you might disagree with. Some of them may be difficult to listen to, but on the whole, I have tried respect those with different views and try to understand where they’re coming from.”