Friday, November 12, 2004
The Tork has put out a couple of interesting posts, one of which addresses Bernard Lewis' curious, if not bizarre, claim that the US' invasion of Iraq and its subsequent attempt at acheiving top-down democracy should be successful when looking back at what happened in Turkey. But top-down democracy was not acheived here because it was a stand-alone solution, it was acheived because of one man's decisions. If Ataturk was Stalin what he said would still go. We are fortunate that he wasn't. The fact is, once you are crowned the savior of a country by repelling an onslaught of foreign forces, people are going to listen to you no matter what you say. If Ataturk had not proven himself on the battlefield there would be little likelihood that his ideas would be implemented at all. The blatantly obvious difference between Turkey and Iraq is the absence of local credibility in the goings on of the latter. If this is all there is to Lewis' claim, then he is on a downward turn. It's true that Arafat didn't cut it as a valuable leader, but it looks like he was the only one with enough credibility to "sell out" to the Israelis without getting shot by his own people (which is probably what he partly feared at Camp David). Denktas is another who had the credibility but lacked the wisdom. Rabin, on the other hand, had the right idea but did not have the political clout needed to avoid getting shot. The tork seems to argue that those who are contra-Lewis believe that "tyranny is endemic to the East", and therefore he objects to their position. The truth is once you have credibility in the Middle East it wears away very very slowly. If someone were to say that tyranny is much more likely where the population is less educated, would many object? (I don't think pointing out Hitler suffices since if the Germans were any more ignorant, his job would be that much easier) Isn't the Middle Eastern population currently less educated than the West? Do they react more emotionally and ideologically to their leaders and tend to rationalize failed policies?
I can't believe the amount of hysteria that has been caused in the last couple of weeks by the sheer lack of understanding English. Hint: If the word "minority" doesn't mean the same thing as its literal translation, use another word. The National Security Counsel (Military) joined in the paranoia by stating that the use of the word could encourage attacks on the terrotorial integrity of the country. I'm sorry, but historical precedence doesn't cut it anymore.... Unfortunately, the army is still burning forests in the East in order to drive out terrorists who are hiding out (again our "burn the blanket to kill the flea" proverb comes into play. Just how small is the flea?), and in a few areas soldiers are afraid of approaching cars at checkpoint for fear of getting shot. Deborah Dickinson a while back said: "race schmace--it's about class". And it's true here as well. Many cosmopolitan Turkish Kurds are seen as sell outs because they avoid talking Kurdish or mentioning their roots, partly because of separatism fears and partly because Kurds tend to be seen as hillbillys by many people (one guy who did his mandatory military service said there were Kurds in his regiment who would use rocks instead of toliet paper...how exclusive this practice is in exremely rural areas is debatable however).
In his other post, the Tork mentions this: "In June 2004, the Turkish Radio and Television (TRT), the Turkish state-owned broadcasting company, has quietly started to broadcast programs in the following non-Turkish languages: Bosnian, Arabic, Circasian, and in two Kurdish dialects (Kirmanci and Zaza)."
Quietly internationally, perhaps, but it was frontpage news in Turkey. I'm not sure "started to broadcast" is accurate since I've only seen it shown once (translated nature programs). No mention of a radio station in Diyerbakir which was shut down for a month because they introduced a Kurdish singer in Kurdish. They were told by the authorities that they must introduce the singer in Turkish (this was also a subject in a recent BBC documentary). Slow is perhaps the best adjective at present.
There seems to be another wave of Chomsky-bashing going on...echo chambers being unleashed on echo chambers. He became a talking point here in 2002 when a publisher of his books was charged with attacking the unity of the Turkish state. There is an interesting correlation between Chomsky as linguist and his political travels. For linguists languages are scientific evidence that can be used to determine whether or not a universal grammar exists. Therefore any political action that advocates the suppresion of a particular language is for them a direct attack on science.