Madeleine Albright speaks at the UC San Diego commencement. Courtesy UC San Diego

Madeleine Albright, the first woman to be appointed a U.S. Secretary of State, warned graduating UC San Diego students Saturday to beware when “pride in ‘us’ hurdles into hatred of ‘them’” in multi-cultural America.

“When pride in ‘us’ hurdles into hatred of ‘them,’ the American tapestry unravels and the social fabric is torn,” Albright told the 9,325 graduates in the Class of 2019 at the commencement ceremony on RIMAC Field..

“The result may be a shooting at a synagogue in Poway, only twenty miles from here, or attacks against members of the LGBTQ community at a nightclub in Orlando,” she said. “It may be the surge in racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia, or the near constant terror of shootings in American classrooms.”

Albright, who served as Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton, had praise for what she termed a dynamic and tolerant culture at UC San Diego.

“I feel particularly privileged to participate in a commencement at this university, one of the most dynamic and fast growing on the West Coast. Driving around, as I did yesterday, you cannot miss the major transformation taking place. Clearly, UC San Diego is focused on the future,” she told the graduates.

“This is reflected in the courses you offer, the students you attract, the exchanges you conduct, and the values of tolerance, mutual respect and social mobility with which you are identified,” she said.

Albright, who immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of 11, reminded students that they are “only a dozen miles from our southern border, where there is a humanitarian crisis made far worse by the indifference of this administration to the desperate plight of migrants from Central America.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.