Turkey made us
After having read my sparring partner Mustafa Akyol’s column at the weekend (“Which Turks are the nuttiest?”) it was almost impossible not to be inspired by Graham Greene’s novel “England Made Me.” Mr. Akyol’s habit of attributing every evil - almost including global warming, the Syrian civil war and last year’s earthquakes - to Kemalism, makes his intellectual writing intellectual-plus-amusing.
Between 1923 and 2002, Turkey was far from perfect in many senses. It was a complete failure in many other senses. Mr. Akyol’s criticism of these episodes is often fair. But his imaginary link between Kemalism and, say, why there are honor killings, is pure propaganda. The truth is, I probably would not have been myself if I had lived in Mr. Akyol’s ideal Ottoman Turkey that we live in today. Similarly, despite its numerous shortcomings, that evil Kemalist Turkey – fortunately - made Mr. Akyol the intellectual he is today (and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, too).
Contrary to what my sparring partner probably thinks of me, I am not a Kemalist, a secularist or any “ist” for that matter. I do not overtly or covertly support any political party, Kemalist or otherwise, and in this column I have criticized every government before and after the AKP came to power. Ideologically speaking, I could perhaps be best described as an anti-ist, including anti-Kemalism, anti-secularism, anti-Islamism and anti-fake-liberalism.
Commenting on Mr. Akyol’s column in which he underlined the supremacy of “Ottoman plurality” over Kemalist despotism, a blogger wrote that he could almost even attribute the Ottoman collapse to Mustafa Kemal. The blogger asked Mr. Akyol: “Didn’t your Saudi Muslim brothers revolt against the Ottoman Empire?” He then repeated the same question by replacing the word Saudi with Egyptian, Albanian and Bosnian. Acknowledge the reality, the blogger commented: “Regional leaders were fed up with Ottoman “plurality” and they kicked them out. One after another. That counts the more for the Christians like Greeks and Serbs.”
In contrast, another blogger thanked Mr. Akyol for bashing Kemalism. This blogger, who introduced himself as a Somalian, wrote: “Most [Somalians] are not fans of the Kemalists because we see them as [people] who got brainwashed. Secularism is all imaginary. You either believe in God or you are an atheist. God’s laws govern us.” The Turkish government’s efforts to colonize Somalia along Islamist lines seem to be paying off.
Speaking like a government spokesman Mr. Akyol claims that “the AKP does not have a problem with the term ecumenical in the name of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as Erdoğan said openly two years ago.” That’s wonderful news! But perhaps Mr. Akyol should explain why the government, with its impressive majority in Parliament, has yet to grant that title to the Patriarchate. Who is holding them back? Kemal? Kemalism? Nutty professors? Nutty columnists?
Mr. Akyol does it all the time, but does not understand that bold spinning is not always convincing. He closed his article by giving the example of a recent verdict by the Supreme Court of Appeals that overturned an appeal by the Alevi community for the official recognition of their houses of worship. Mr. Akyol reminded that the Supreme Court based this verdict on the “Revolutionary Laws” of Ataturk. That was factually true, but it was not the point.
If the Alevis are being denied their houses of worship due to a 1925 law it is Parliament’s duty to correct this injustice. It would have suited someone of Mr. Akyol’s intellect to attribute the problem to the AKP-controlled Parliament’s inertia/unwillingness, rather than to an archaic piece of legislation. We have seen numerous times that the AKP can pass legislation in half a day if it wants to.
Next time, Mustafa, I wish you would come up with a fresh defense of the AKP, which your intellect no doubt deserves. You and I could then go on writing on more important matters, instead of boring our readership with our sparring.