Empathy and prejudice

Empathy and prejudice

International economist and writer Dani Rodrik wrote on his Twitter account, along with a link to an interview of his, “I want to empathize with [Presidential Spokesperson] İbrahim Kalın. At the time of the Ergenekon and the Sledgehammer [Balyoz] cases, the ones he now calls conspiracies, I remember that he was writing for the daily Today’s Zaman…”

Rodrik is the son-in-law of the number one defendant in the Sledgehammer case, Gen. Çetin Doğan. He has the right, more than everybody else, to expostulate today when the conspiracy behind the Balyoz case is being investigated. It is because he was the one who caught the first traces of the conspiracy, the one to reveal the fabricated evidence and similar loopholes. Credit should be given to him.  

However, his prejudice against the Kalın is totally unfair. 

I got to know Kalın while he was doing his doctorate at George Washington University, his advisor being Seyyed Hossein Nasr. He was never a member of the Fethullah Gülen community; not that time, not this time. He has equipped himself as an open-minded intellectual, not as a robotized orderly or a as a member of a community but as an independently-thinking individual with free will and conscience.

Well, can’t he be mistaken? As most of us, he could have fallen for, been mistaken by the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases. But his mistakes are the result of his individual evaluation processes, not the product of a dictated opinion. If you had read his column Daily Sabah on Aug. 3, drawing the lesson of transparency and accountability from the attempted coup, you would have confirmed this too. 

Rodrik’s link leading to the interview from the European Council on Foreign Relations also confirms this. 
But these prejudices, you know, they blindfold you… 

The thing that blocks the empathy is that Kalın had a column once at Today’s Zaman. In the eyes of Rodrik, this is the mark that stops him from being worthy of empathy. If we consider this a correct argument, then, for instance, developing empathy with me should absolutely be banned. It is because I started my journalistic career at Zaman. It was my first love in the profession, a newspaper administered by the community. 

But I was never a member of the community. In light of the fact that I had worked at Zaman for some time, I wonder if it is adequate to reach a final judgement about me… 

My neighboring columnist, Ertuğrul Özkök, has an answer for those who dig into his old columns to search for inconsistencies. It is about the problematic business of making archaeological excavations in the archives; he said everybody would be harmed by this. The same argument goes here also, absolutely. 

If you explore seven generations of your family, if you dig into the past like an archaeologist, who would be related to whom and what else? You would even present it as evidence to having said “hello” to a coup plotter. Shortly, my suggestion to Rodrik is to give up this vain effort. 

One would indeed be able to empathize with Kalın, and it would be quite pleasant. If he cannot do this empathy, then Rodrik would have hard time finding a person to empathize with in this country except his own colony. 

No to tank parade 

Taking this opportunity, we are finally getting rid of an outdated Cold War tradition, Defense Minister Fikri Işık said.  

There used to be a military vehicle appearance, a show of force at the Aug. 30 Victory Day parades. In a childish joy, we would show our new tanks and other apparatus. The future of the parades has not been decided yet but it will not be a show of force anymore; that is definite. 

The unsuccessful coup attempt has made us come to our senses. We are ending this crude militarist boast that is supposed to create assurances for the friend and fear for the foe. We were quite late in this decision; I sincerely congratulate the decision makers.