Warning: This post contains spoilers from Sunday’s Madam Secretary premiere.
Sometimes, and not very often enough, a TV show comes along that just rocks my world. One such show is MADAM SECRETARY, starring Teá Leoni in the title role, as Elizabeth McCord. This outstanding show—penned and steered by Barbara Hall and God himself, Morgan Freeman—is now in it’s fifth season.
It was the premiere episode this Sunday, in which Gen. Colin Powell, Madeline Albright and a personal hero of mine, Hilary Clinton guest starred, playing themselves. Each of these great previous, real-life, Secretary of State, offering advice and sage counsel to the fictional McCord on the topic of a Unified America, and the rise of Nationalism — “a perversion of patriotism” she quotes in what is, quite honestly, truly one of the most outstanding speeches never given by a Secretary of State or, to come out of the White House.
The fictional McCord’s remarks were inspirational—so much so, I ended up with chills going down my spine and goosebumps all along my arms.
Here’s the full text (released by CBS) from that crucial scene, after White Supremacists (Americans, not foreign terrorists I should point out) have tried to blow up the White House during a signing of an Accord between India and Pakistan.
ELIZABETH: Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you Prime Minister Khatri, Prime Minister Wadeyla. Your courage and determination have made humankind safer from the second-greatest threat it faces. What is an even greater threat than nuclear weapons? That which makes the use of them possible: hate. Specifically, the blind hatred one group or nation can have for another. That is why I am convinced that nationalism is the existential threat of our time.
Now I want to be clear. Nationalism is not the same as patriotism. It’s a perversion of patriotism. Nationalism, the belief system held by those who attacked us, promotes the idea that inclusion and diversity represent weakness, that the only way to succeed is to give blind allegiance to the supremacy of one race over all others. Nothing could be less American. Patriotism, on the other hand, is about building each other up and embracing our diversity as the source of our nation’s strength. “We the people” means all the people. America’s heroes didn’t die for race or region. They died for the ideals enshrined in our Constitution. Above all, freedom from tyranny, which requires our unwavering support of a free press; freedom of religion, all religions; the right to vote, and making sure nothing infringes on any of those rights, which belong to us all. Look where isolationism has gotten us in the past. Two world wars. Seventy million dead. Never again can we go back to those dark times when fear and hatred, like a contagion, infected the world. That, as much as ending the threat of nuclear war, is what today is about.
And it is why we must never lose sight of our common humanity, our common values and our common decency. I was reminded recently of our nation’s founding motto, E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Thirteen disparate colonies became one country. One people. And today, we call on all Americans and people everywhere to reject the scourge of nationalism. Because governments can’t legislate tolerance or eradicate hate. That’s why each one of us has to find the beauty in our differences instead of the fear. Listen instead of reacting. Reach out instead of recoiling. It’s up to us. All of us.
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