Are the shepherd and the professor equal?
When I read that Zeynep Dinçer and Sibel Balkaya from the Gökyazı village of the eastern province of Muş achieved the highest scores in a nationwide high school admission examination, I remembered a debate that happened a few years ago, where a woman asked: “Can the votes of a professor and a shepherd be the same?”
First of all, I want to congratulate our daughters, Zeynep and Sibel. It is indeed an admirable success to be the first in a nationwide exam while herding sheep after school.
Of course the vote of the professor and the shepherd is equal because “the vote” is a right. It is about the fundamental philosophical values as equality before the law and equal citizenship.
Killing a shepherd and killing a professor are “equal” crimes; they have equal penalties because the right to live and personal immunity are equal rights.
Reducing the concept of “rights” to knowledge and diploma can bear horrible results. Feudal regimes in Europe, kingdoms and the sultan’s household troops in the Ottomans were such exclusionist systems.
With the advancement of values such as equality and equal citizenship, which are a blessing of modernity to humankind, regimes felt the need to be “inclusive.” The improvement of social development and social dynamism together with the increase in the demand for democracy has accelerated each other.
Old democracies, where only diploma-holders or property owners were able to vote, have been left way behind.
The equality of rights is now the most important factor of human dignity.
Modern law, by entitling less educated; poor citizens and women the equal right to vote, enabled them to affect the state administration. Thanks to this, public services such as education and health were extended rapidly to these segments too. Daughters of a shepherd can be the champions of a nationwide entrance test.
It is not a coincidence that in our history the introduction of such services to villages was accelerated after the 1950s.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is receiving a much higher percentage of votes from these segments.
While “rights” are written on one side of the medallion, on the other side “knowledge” is written. Jobs that require knowledge and expertise are for diploma-holders.
The behaviors of a well-educated society and a less-educated society are different. In a scientific survey published in February, Professor Ali Çarkoğlu and Erdem Aytaç said less-educated segments of the society did not know of the content of the referendum while more-educated segments knew the content and decided accordingly.
In less-educated segments, values such as loyalty to the leader and devotion to collective behavior are strong. As education increases, the trend of researching, questioning and making individual decisions become stronger.
Late Professor Ali Fuat Başgil had warned late Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, saying, “You are neglecting the intellectuals.”
Instead of oppressing the opposition coming from well-educated segments, instead of scolding the criticisms of genuine Islamist intellectuals, they should try to understand why this is so.
Those who are loyal to the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) tradition should also see that the “cap wearing” segments are equal citizens and try to see and understand their demands and social development dynamics.