Burning cultural legacies

Burning cultural legacies

I read in total horror the news about the arson attack on Ziya Gökalp’s house-turned-museum and how the books were stolen during the recent incidents in Diyarbakır.

Whoever burnt it down became a part of the history of barbarism. Those who committed it can be a proud of being a member of barbarism, of regimes that are the enemies of culture.

Whoever burnt it down, even if they were to lead a right cause, I cannot stand behind them. They should understand that freedom cannot be realized without culture; politics cannot be realized without information. They can’t achieve anything by burning and destroying things and they will be damned by the history of humanity.

I see setting fire to the houses of artists, intellectuals, thinkers as a symbol of underdevelopment, the most shameful form of barbarism. In this country, actually, thinkers and artists themselves have been burned. Obviously, one should not misunderstand that as if I wouldn’t mind burning the houses of others.

I am always open to the political discussion of revolutions, uprisings, legal or illegal resistances. But I cannot forgive, only condemn, those who burn the symbols of a country’s cultural history. I cannot perceive this as a simple act of ignorance. Could Gökalp’s house be burnt down unintentionally? I cannot believe that.

That building has a plate on it. It should be known to all. I think everyone that lives in Diyarbakır knows the building; they must know.

Those who have never learned the importance of Gökalp’s place in our intellectual history have no right to hide behind an uprising or an upheaval. Books were stolen. Those who have stolen these books will live from now on under the shame of having prevented the cultural accumulation of future generations. Those that have seen the burnt places will realize that those who have done this have nothing to do with being civilized.

This is not an issue just about Gökalp. In the face of protests, the house of a leader, a thinker, or an artist should be considered something to be protected against the crazy masses. This is a duty for humanity.

Someone needs to remind the protesters that in the 21st century, what they did is no different to the mass book burnings of Nazi Germany. I just don’t understand the reason of the hostility against Gökalp. It is not possible to understand anyway. You cannot ignore a cultural entity because of some political intuitions.

History does not suggest that you can achieve anything by burning down a writer’s house. When I visit a city, I visit the houses of the important personalities of that city, and its museums. I'm able to get to know the city, to like and respect that city, thanks to them.

I equally protest the burning of the library in Siirt. Libraries and the houses of writers are gifts to history and they are the common jewels of humanity.

Whoever commits barbarism against culture, I will always damn them and write about them.