ANN ARBOR, MI – Madeleine Albright says she's sounding the alarm.
"You have to call them out. You have to call it what it is," she said in Ann Arbor discussion Friday on what she views as disturbing signs of budding fascism.
The nation's first female secretary of state joined University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole in a talk on her new book "Fascism: A Warning" at the Michigan Theater.
"Fascism is not an ideology. It's a process for gaining power and keeping it. Leaders identify with majority groups at the expense of minorities," said Albright, 82, who served as ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton.
"... People think the book is alarmist. Well, it's supposed to be"
Born in Czechoslovakia two years before the start of World War II, Albright grew up during a period when much of Europe was consumed by fascism.
She told the story of her journey as a refugee coming to the U.S. and becoming a naturalized citizen, saying the U.S. has a generous history of taking in people seeking safety from persecution in their home country.
"Every country has the right to make the rules, but what is going on right now is outrageous," Albright said, criticizing the Trump administration's immigration policies.
Albright and Cole lamented the current political climate in the U.S.
"I believe in the United States, but there is a responsibility that comes with being the most powerful nation in the world," Albright said. "We are living in a period where the system doesn't work and there is no organized decision-making process."
In the book, she describes President Donald Trump as "the first antidemocratic president in modern U.S. history." She writes that Trump "convinced enough voters in the right states that he was a teller of blunt truths, a masterful negotiator, and an effective champion of American interests," and argues that he is none of those things.
"I applaud Secretary Albright for calling it what it is," Cole said Friday.
This event was sponsored by Nicola's Books.
Albright took a moment during the talk to acknowledge the passing of former U.S. Rep. John Dingell.
"I would like to take a moment to honor John Dingell," Albright said. "I knew him, and he was a remarkable servant and understood what it meant to have the power to be in congress."