Nate Tabak and Hana Marku got married in July 2016 in Kosovo

Nate Tabak and Hana Marku got married in July 2016 in Kosovo.

My wife, Hana, emigrated to the United States from Kosovo as a child in the early 1990s. Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia back then, as a province of Serbia. She is Albanian, like most Kosovars.

Albanians were always outcasts in Yugoslavia, a country exclusionary in its name, which refers to the South Slavs who comprised the majority of the country. Albanians are not Slavs — which is most pronounced in their language, unrelated to the basket of South Slavic languages across Yugoslavia. Albanians had a range of experiences during their 45 years living in socialist Yugoslavia — a state that was liberal by the standards of communist countries. Some did very well; others faced repression. But ultimately, being Albanian was something to overcome.

In the 1970s, Albanians in Kosovo enjoyed a brief period of normalcy. Kosovo got autonomous status, and students were able to learn in their native tongue. But it all unraveled in the 1980s, culminating in 1989 with the revocation of Kosovo’s autonomy under dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

Hana and I met in Kosovo in 2012, when she moved back from Toronto. She wanted to shape the future of her young country, which had endured a war in 1999 and declared independence in 2008. By the time we got married this past June, we had more or less concluded that we wanted to raise our future children somewhere else. While Kosovo has done markedly better than other recipients of US military interventions — among other things, it’s at peace — it still has a long way to go.

Regardless of where we ended up, I’d hoped at some point to become a Canadian citizen. Universal healthcare, of course, is a great perk. I looked into this in more detail once we got married, and put it on the back burner. I had naively thought that being an American and marrying a Canadian would make becoming a Canadian citizen a formality. It’s not quite that simple. I’ll even need to take an exam to prove that I know English.

I suspect all of that will be moot, and that Albanians, including the devout Christians, likely will be caught in this new dragnet. I know Kosovo Albanians who have been detained for hours when traveling to Israel simply because of their name, or for coming from a largely Muslim country. It would actually be smarter to make a point of not screening Albanians. During World War II, Albanian Muslims courageously rescued and sheltered more Jews than were killed by the Nazis and their puppet government. Serbs were not alone in responsibility — nearly every major group played a part — but they contributed the most from their position of dominance.

Hana would probably be considered a Muslim in Trump’s world, even though she is essentially an atheist. So is her mother, who was born in a small city in Western Macedonia. Their “Muslim” family is as secular as they come.

I suspect all of that will be moot, and that Albanians, including the devout Christians, likely will be caught in this new dragnet. I know Kosovo Albanians who have been detained for hours when traveling to Israel simply because of their name, or for coming from a largely Muslim country. It would actually be smarter to make a point of not screening Albanians. During World War II, Albanian Muslims courageously rescued and sheltered more Jews than were killed by the Nazis and their puppet government. Serbs were not alone in responsibility — nearly every major group played a part — but they contributed the most from their position of dominance.

Read the complete article and listen to the audio here:
http://wunc.org/post/why-i-m-actually-moving-canada#stream/0