Following the footsteps of Aziz Sancar

Following the footsteps of Aziz Sancar

2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate professor Aziz Sancar felt like a breath of fresh air.

Because he has kept his Turkish citizenship even though he has been living in the United States for many years. Because he mentions the gains of the republic at every opportunity. Because one of the values he prioritizes is “hard work.”

And because he said he would hand his Nobel certificate and medal to the Atatürk Mausoleum in Ankara (Anıtkabir) on Youth and Sports Day on May 19, thus giving a symbolic message that the advances of the republic and Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, have their share in his success. 

It is because he is a classy, appreciative and modest person who would say, “This is Atatürk’s and the republic’s medal.” It is because he is an admirer of Atatürk and as a republican Turkish citizen, he does not turn this attitude into a political protest. He does not reject the invitation of the president of the republic of Turkey, instead accepting his greeting with grace.  

It is because he has said, “God willing, we will place the medal in Anıtkabir on May 19,” (refuting those who alleged the opposite) reminding us that one can be a believer, pro-Atatürk and secular at the same time and that Turkey’s majority is actually like this.    

It is because he did not fall into the trap of those who attempted to start a polemic by insistently asking, “What is his ethnicity?”

In other words, it is because he has reminded us of all of these features, those extraordinary characteristics of ours that we yearn for so much, that are about to be extinct, the ones that some people work very hard to make us lose. And it is because he made us feel how much we have missed them…

So many thanks, esteemed teacher Aziz Sancar, for all of these lessons in addition to your scientific work and achievements, and our pride in your Nobel…

Do you have a shotgun at home? 

In the southern province of Adana, guys with shotguns raided the “Kebab and Turnip Juice Festival” and attacked those who were drinking alcohol. 

Again in Adana, a guy with a shotgun raided a school and fired shots at students because his little brother was beaten up at school. 

The problem is not the province of Adana itself. Actually, Adana is our dearest province. The problem is the country’s current psychological climate. Right now is the golden era for those roughnecks who have shotguns, long meat-cutting knives and sticks. 

The vision and the language of politics almost legitimize these weapons. Add the people’s distrust of justice to this issue.

Once upon a time we used to say, “Let’s Westernize.” In the recent past we said, “Let us go back to our Eastern roots.” Now we are being transformed into the “Wild West.”

As the perception grows that both law and the police have lost their impartiality (an understandable perception), there is no trust in punishment mechanisms, thus no fear from it. 

If those who swear, slander and attack people with sticks feel they are on the stronger side, they see this bullying as an earned right of theirs. 

For the first time in the history of Turkey, ignorance, rudeness and violence are values rising in importance. Elegance, tolerance, grace and empathy are disappearing. In this environment, young people who find their identity by threatening others despotically, in addition to fanatic crowds, are prospering. 

In the future, rather than Syrian young migrants themselves, maybe one of Turkey’s biggest problems will actually be this shared deformation of mentality.