America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

America's #1 Balance Bike Destination
America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

18 December 2005

Un-Turkish Ethnicity versus Turkish Nationality

In the United States, we are free to speak, read, and write in any language we choose. Why is this so? or conversely, "Why isn't this not?" The short answer is this: There is no threat to national security. The more complicated answer is this: The overwhelming majority of Americans love their country, and the overwhelming majority of them have no claims against American land. This is ironic, considering that this greatest of nations was built on the backs of hundreds if not thousands of Native American Indian Nations, not to mention the slaves which were bought and sold like livestock. Is it unlawful for present day Native Americans to speak in their ancestral language? Is it unlawful for present day African Americans to talk about the human rights abuses their ancestors endured? Nope. It's all good. Do either of these threaten national security? Hardly, no.

What do all of the different ethnic groups living in modern day Turkey call themselves in private? What are they compelled to call themselves in public? What SHOULD they call themselves? The answers are obvious, to Americans citizens at least.

Here, it's okay for a person of Italian heritage to stand and say "I'm Italian", or a person from Mexico to declare "I am Mexican", or an exchange student from Israel to say "I'm a Jew". In fact it's encouraged. Diversity is a national treasure of the United States, and it's never threatening.

So what is a Turk? Can someone who is better qualified please answer this question? Is it an etchnicity or a nationality? Is there such thing as a "Turkish Turk"? Such as with "American ethnicity", the meaning of "Turkish ethnicity" is largely irrelevant. This issue is about people of un-Turkish origin versus people who are citizens of Turkey.

The problem is this: Both within Turkey and just across her borders, exist untold millions of people with an inbred hatred and distrust of the Turkish state, it's government and it's military. The safest bet for Turkey is to consider all of her citizens to be nothing..other..than..Turks. Nationality trumps ethnicity, for the sake of national security. No single ethnic group can be allowed to feel strong or capable, or worst of all, independent. Rightly so...

An ultra-nationalist Turk looks upon Kurds with contempt because they refuse to call themselves Turks in the national sense. They refuse to call themselves Kurdish Turks for the sake of compromise. They insist upon calling themselves Kurds, period. Is it any wonder that this represents a threat?

It goes without saying that it would be IDEAL if all ethnic groups in Turkey could stand and be recognized, tolerated and respected. "I'm a French Turk" and "I'm a Libyan Turk" and "I'm a Japanese Turk" and "I'm a Kurdish Turk" should ring out proudly and without fear of imprisonment. This is a two way street though. You can't force Armenians living in Turkey to simply call themselves "Turks", period. Nor can you tolerate Kurds in Turkey to simply call themselves "Kurds", period. There needs to be compromise.

Hyphenated identities are what make the United States so great. So long as the word "American" is on one side of the hyphen, or the other, peace and security will prevail. Until all ethnic groups in Turkey embrace this thinking, their perceived threat to national security will continue to be mitigated by limiting their rights to free expression.

-AT

PS: Whether you completely agree or completely dismiss my thinking as incorrect, it would be a pleasure to receive some feed back on this topic. If I am way offsides, please educate me. After all, I'm just an Amerikan person whose parents are from Turkey, calling things as I see them...

1 comment:

Susan said...

The problem is this: Both within Turkey and just across her borders, exist untold millions of people with an inbred hatred and distrust of the Turkish state, its government and its military.

Do you have any references to support this opinion? Sounds quite fearful, and fear doesn't always lead to good decisions.