America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

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

06 February 2007

Elif Shafak on NPR: The Bastard of Istanbul

Author Elif Shafak was acquitted after being taking to trial for "insulting Turkishness" when a fictional character described the Armenian genocide in her latest book. AFP/Getty Images

Elif claims that Article 301 was introduced as a positive/progressive step towards EU integration.. at least compared to older articles which it replaced.. but that it is open to mis-interpretation and exploited by the Turkish Penal System.. I agree that it's mis-interpreted, but more so by outsiders.. If Article 301 was re-named to something more compatible with it's purpose, then it would avoid many of the condemnation it receives from Turkey's detractors. Let me repeat a comment I introduced a couple of weeks ago in response to Bolsa Hye over at Global Voices:

What is regrettable is the term used to decribe what it’s violators are accused of, because it really leads people into the weeds: “insulting Turkishness”… I believe a more fitting term for Article 301 defendants might be: “Inciting rebellion”. In my view, Article 301 serves to keep certain radical elements from clashing with other more benign elements. Erasing it will cause the majority of Turks (nationalists) to clash violently with “hyphenated-Turks”. Keeping the minority in check keeps the majority from assaulting the other, by way of deterring provocation. Do you deny that this is possible? Is it so far fetched that at present, Article 301 is necessary? Most seem to be too myopic to understand that Article 301 didn’t appear out of thin air, that it was created by lawmakers.. who were elected as democratically as you can presently find in the middle east. Does this explanation, right or wrong, mean that I believe it’s a good thing, however necessary? No, absolutely not. The fact that the majority of nationalist Turks are too immature or insecure to even fathom tolerating something spoken against the state, is not anything for Turks to be proud of. Hopefully, we’ll live to see the day when Turks do not feel threatened by a difference in thinking, and a day when hyphenated-Turks refrain from deliberate provocation.

And to Gulay:

"There's free speech, and then there's the kind of free speech which can get you killed. If Article 301 did it's job and deterred people from attracting attention to their unpopular views, then perhaps people like Hrant Dink would still be alive. So you see I'm not a fan of Article 301.. rather I'm a fan of Article 301 having the potential to save lives. Some Turks are not yet ready to accept a difference in thinking.. not yet. I would rather tolerate a little totalitarianism as you put it, than be gunned down on the street. When Turkish society is ready, A-301 will go away.. and trust me I'll be among the first to say good riddance!"

Elif opines (paraphrased) that the enforcers of Article 301 are a minority who want to stop the EU process.. who want to see the country as a more xenophobic nation-state.. a closed society.. and I quote:

"..It intrigues me to see how Armenians in the Diaspora tend to be past-oriented.. memory-oriented.. whereas when you look at the Turks.. that's not the case at all. We are more future oriented.. and in some ways we are a society of collective amnesia. So it's not only 1915 that we are unable to talk about.. but the whole past.. For many people in Turkey history begins in 1923.. the day the Republic was established.. That is the beginning.. and anything that might have happened before then.. is of no real interest..."

Hmmm. What intrigues me Elif is your choice of friends back in 2005..
Fatma Muge Gocek, Richard Hovannisian, Elif Shafak, Taner Akcam strike a pose at the 2005 UCLA conference.

21 comments:

Anonim said...

I must object. 301 is not a necessary evil. The penal code does not need 301 to deal with "inciting" crime, let alone a rebellion. What 301 does is, it creates a new category of crime the definition of which is in the eye of the beholder. It is a rather strange notion that you should keep minority views under check by force of law lest offense is given and the holders of such views are hurt. Did I say strange? I should have said incredible instead. How about the US Congress enacting a law condemning gays to repent or remain forever in the closet lest they are torn to pieces in Texas?

Turks are often criticized for not knowing or not learning from their history. This is patently false. We Turks don't learn from the happenings of today. I am amazed an "American" Turk could excuse 301 as a necessary evil. If you lived and understood the American way, why don't you want the same for Turks/Turkey? Or, are we a different species, as unique and special as many Turks and non-Turks would have us believe?

Anonymous said...

Your view is a long way from "Live free or die" (New Hampshire state motto) or even Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Interesting also how you try to slander Elif Shafak at the end of the post.

Bolsa Hye said...

How dare she fraternize with historians who acknowledge the Genocide! That slut!

AT, I can't believe you're still defending 301. Anyway, I'm not going to say more on that, because anonim already said it better than I could have.

Murat Altinbasak said...

anonim: Gays are not a threat to national security. Gays do not claim war reparations or hate all straight people. Gays do not massacre innocent people of their host country and neighbors, then bird-dog their 600 year hosts as the guilty monster. Lame.

Don't be so amazed that an "American" Turk could excuse a301. It was not that long ago that the US government went on a witch hunt for communists.. It's quite recent that a law called the Patriot Act has severely infringed upon the privacy rights and freedoms of all Americans. It's a reality that even today, Americans are arrested and imprisoned without charges and without access to legal counsel, if they're lucky enough to escape being sent to Guantanamo. Please. Give me a break.
If you read all of my words, you'd notice that I want article 301 to go away.. Until then, let's leave law-making to the lawmakers. If we were any better at it, we'd be politicians in the Turkish Parliament. Clearly we're not. So if my arm's length support for 301 is unpopular with you, regrets.

Murat Altinbasak said...

anonymous: please check a dictionary for the meaning of slander.. Pointing out a factual "meeting of the minds", complete with photographic evidence, is hardly considered "slander". Sure it was a jab. I don't regret it, nor do I have any ill-will towards Elif. But am I required to like her or what she stands for? No.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Bolsa,
Thanks for joining us.. but anonim didn't say anything meaningful.. You could do much better.
Btw, you called her a slut, not me. If you listen to the recordings of the broadcast, you will find her voice to be as soothing as hearing a fairy tale as a child before bed time. Such perfect English and such a delicate voice! I could listen to those lips all day.

Bolsa Hye said...

AT, in your article you state that article 301 is necessary in order to protect the minorities from the majority by shutting the minority up so that they don't piss off the majority. Then now you say that article 301 is needed to shut the minority up to protect the nation. It would be nice if you could get your story straight. It seems to me that even you don't what use this article is and your just flailing around in the water until someone can come around and rescue you! Is there not a nationalist in the house who can help Murat by articulating a rational explanation for this worthless article 301!

Also Murat, you keep trying to paint the Armenians as traitors, thus perpetuating the stereotype that causes Turks to murder their own citizens.

"Gays do not massacre innocent people of their host country and neighbors, then bird-dog their 600 year hosts as the guilty monster."

I have to call bullshit on this one! Perhaps if gays had been asking for justice and equality for 200 years only to be answered with massacre after massacre, then you might have an argument.

Your prejudices and stereotypes against Armenians is getting tiresome!

Now I hope I've "done better"!

Murat Altinbasak said...

"Then now you say that article 301 is needed to shut the minority up to protect the nation."

You're either deliberately putting words in my mouth, or you've misunderstood me.

Drop your claims of genocide and I will drop my support of Article 301.. Deal or No Deal?

And yes, you did great. I have a propensity to anger or frustrate people sometimes. You're living proof.

Anonim said...

Murat: Why am I not surprised? This is classic and so typical an apologist talk. It's not at all about the popularity of your views with me, so don't regret anything. It is about the fact that such apologies are not only meaningless but hurting Turkish society and interests as well. Hurting because they help fuel this McCarthyism in Turkey. You at least deserve credit for finding an appropriate name for the problem. Otherwise, Kerincsiz & Co. would only be happy for your voluntary contribution to their cause.

Now, photographs and videos surfaced showing security officials striking congratulatory poses with Ogun Samast, the killer of Hrant Dink, after his arrest in Samsun. Everybody agreed this was a scandal. Civilian police officers involved lost their jobs; gendarmes involved were appointed to other posts. So far so good, but a little detail appears to have not attracted much attention. In a press release from the Gendarme Headquarters, in addition to expressions of regrets for the photo-op, public attention was called to who might have leaked the embarrassing materials and what their motives might have been. You brought up American excesses as part of your excuse; so I ask: can you imagine the US administration or military top-brass alluding to ulterior motives behind the Abu Ghraib abuse leak?

Lame is the act of jumping from one branch to the next, losing logic and context in the process, and ending up implying Elif Safak, Hrant Dink, Orhan Pamuk, ... are a threat to national security. I am sure you didn't mean to say they are such a threat. So don't bother answering that. Instead tell me: just what is it about national security that 301 safeguards? (I consider it resolved that the other explanation, constraining the minority to protect it from the majority, is indefensible.)

Also, you are wrong about this being the responsibility of law-making politicians, not of ours as private citizens. Last time I checked, Turkey was a democratic republic. It is not only our right but also our duty to voice opinions, pro or con, about laws and legislations. If this means calling a spade a spade at times, so be it. 301 must go; it has no merit whatsoever, and itself an insult to Turkish nation for it assumes that Turks cannot fend for themselves when an actual denigration occurs.

istanbulexpat said...

Murat,
Your defense of A-301 as a necessary evil while voicing your opinions freely on American soil is cute and somewhat hypocritical. You fit perfectly into the armchair quarterback laziness of the stereotypical US citizen.

So basically your comparing A-301 to McCarthyism? Your saying that because Americans can have Guatanamo and infringe on American rights, its ok for Turkey to do the same? OK. I'll take your opinion and still win the arguement.

As an American you feel that you shouldn't make such opinions known to change legislation? You state, "So if my arm's length support for 301 is unpopular with you, regrets." -What would you say if you were censored, arrested and thrown in jail for these "opinions"? That's not the American way, but then again because of the divisiveness and marginalization that has occured in the US, it is not suprising.

And your deal: give up the genocide and we'll give up 301! Lighten up on the ultimatums. Ultimatums are for tyrants and fascists, as is 301.

By the way, my blog is up and running again. Too bad I can't run content like yours eventhough I'd like to, but I fear persecution and a bullet in my head.

Murat Altinbasak said...

"And your deal: give up the genocide and we'll give up 301! Lighten up on the ultimatums. Ultimatums are for tyrants and fascists, as is 301."

Ugh.. Puh-lease.. "Deal or No Deal" is not an "ultimatum".. It's the name of a popular game show. I was trying to be funnny. Good grief... "..still win the argument"?? Not unless the object was to sound foolish.

"What would you say if you were censored, arrested and thrown in jail for these "opinions"?"

Patriot Act. Look into it. Have you lived in a cave for the past 10 years?

metin said...

Murat: You know my feelings about 301. But to equate the Patriot Act to 301 is not kosher.

The Patriot Act is an attempt to take away civil liberties that already exist, in the interest of 'national' security. Article 301 is a restriction that is a threat to national security. It's just another vehicle for the naysayers to buy more stock in the anti-Turkish bandwagon.

So in the interest of protecting 'Turkish-ness,' we're actually creating the anti-Turkish-ness all around us and even within us that this 301 is supposed to 'protect' us from.

No need for arguing about the use of a condom if sex is banned. But requiring a condom of those already having sex is not a restriction of the act but the penetration of future births of ideologies not consistent with the new world order. Not exactly the same thing.

Then there's the leaky condom. Of course, who you get in bed with is another issue altogether. 301 and Patriot Act make strange bedfellows when presented in the same twosome.

Sean said...

istanbulexpat said" "Too bad I can't run content like yours even though I'd like to, but I fear persecution and a bullet in my head. "

These words are the most powerful against 301. Murat, how would you feel if you found out that istanbulexpat was killed or jailed for the comments he/she posted for this posting above.

Just those, nothing more. Does that change your opinion?

Murat, I bet some of the comments you make on this site could be construed as "installing Turkishness". I bet your opinion of 301 would change if you were charged next time you visit Turkey. That would be something!

Murat Altinbasak said...

"By the way, my blog is up and running again. Too bad I can't run content like yours even though I'd like to, but I fear persecution and a bullet in my head."

Yeah I'm not done with you expat.. You've just walked into a trap and proven my point for me. Is it clear to you now: that if not for Article 301, your blog would be steeped with the kind of wording which draws the wrong audience.. the kind of unwelcome attention given by miscreants like Ogun Samast?? He and other like-minded thugs can't wait for Article 301 to go away, so that the veils which conceal you also disappear.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Sean said: "These words are the most powerful against 301. Murat, how would you feel if you found out that istanbulexpat was killed or jailed for the comments he/she posted for this posting above." (referring to expat)

Incorrect Sean. Those words make my point ever more valid. If anyone was killed or jailed for blog comments, what do you think I'd do?

Sean continues: "Murat, I bet some of the comments you make on this site could be construed as "installing Turkishness". I bet your opinion of 301 would change if you were charged next time you visit Turkey. That would be something!"

Not sure what you mean by "installing Turkishness".. but as I've said before, use of the words "insulting Turkishness" is what makes Article 301 sound like such a joke. As for being personally charged, I don't know what I'd do. It would be bad for sure. I'm sorry.. when did I say I'm in love with Article 301? Should I try another language?

Murat Altinbasak said...

Metin: "Article 301 is a restriction that is a threat to national security."

Here is where we part ways on this issue... I believe in exactly the opposite. How many Hrant Dinks will be murdered in cold blood before anyone besides me realizes that respect for Article 301 could save one's life? For the nth time.. this doesn't mean I support it!! It means that I value human life over expressing an unpopular opinion- especially an opinion which achieves nothing but division and hatred along ethnic and religious lines! People- wake up!

Bolsa Hye said...

Murat, if you're worried about saving people's lives, there's other ways of doing it that don't involve limiting people's speech. You could pass hate crimes laws, or change the school curriculum so that children aren't taught that the minorities in Turkey are backstabbers, or dare say include curriculum in schools that promote tolerance and acceptance. You could institutionally support journalists who write openly in support of human rights, rather than jailing them. You could support television programming and other media that promotes tolerance of minorities and their views. Basically, you could send your leaders to America and find out what we do here. The Turks don't have to reinvent the wheel here.

Anonim said...

"How many Hrant Dinks will be murdered in cold blood before anyone besides me realizes that respect for Article 301 could save one's life?"

Of course, if this is to make sense, one has to assume Hrant Dink, Elif Safak, Orhan Pamuk, countless other publishers, editors, and dissidents of various stripes actually disrespected 301. Maybe you'll explain to us how not to "denigrate Turkishness." Absent a clear and widely accepted explanation of the meaning of this concept, you are asking people to cow and shut up, or else. Would that be a threat or fear mongering?

Murat Altinbasak said...

"Of course, if this is to make sense, one has to assume Hrant Dink, Elif Safak, Orhan Pamuk, countless other publishers, editors, and dissidents of various stripes actually disrespected 301. Maybe you'll explain to us how not to "denigrate Turkishness." Absent a clear and widely accepted explanation of the meaning of this concept, you are asking people to cow and shut up, or else. Would that be a threat or fear mongering?"

Can you do anything other than put words in my mouth? Don't read into it so deeply. What I've offered is simple logic and reason:
1. Saying certain things in Turkey, especially by people who capture a large audience, is dangerous to one's health.
2. Article 301, as a by-product of it's originally intended purpose, discourages such foolishness (because it's dangerous, as Hrant Dink demonstrated with his life)
3. Thusly, Turkish citizens continue to live, and avoid getting their brains blown out in broad daylight.

What part of this is so difficult for you to understand? Please stop assuming that I am a supporter of this situation, or of Article 301. Try being less myopic.

Care to stuff more words into my mouth? I don't appreciate the insinuation that I have threatened anyone. And personally, I don't care who "denigrates Turkishness". Go wild. Shout it from the rooftops. Every lamb is hung by their own leg..
This failure to understand me is getting a bit long in the tooth. You're preaching to the choir and don't even realize it. Get over yourself.

Sean said...

Murat, you are speaking from both sides of your mouth. You say that you are not in love with Article 301, yet you turn around and blame the people accused of violating it. Fine, maybe you aren't in love with it, yet you don't hate it either. Am I right?

Murat said: "1. Saying certain things in Turkey, especially by people who capture a large audience, is dangerous to one's health."

Is this a joke? you are right, certain things are dangerous to say, but that doesn't mean people should stop saying it. It means that people who are creating the dangerous condition must be neutralized, one way or another.

Murat said: "2. Article 301, as a by-product of it's originally intended purpose, discourages such foolishness (because it's dangerous, as Hrant Dink demonstrated with his life)"

discourages such foolishness? Is this really Murat speaking? You are basically saying that any dissent is unwelcome, it's foolish. So when Turkey was against US invading Iraq, they should have been punished for their foolishness. US should have "shocked and awed" those who were against it. That would have put an end to their foolishness.

maybe your thought aren't being communicated well by your words, because when you say "it's dangerous, as Hrant Dink demonstrated with his life", it sounds to me like you are blaming Hrant for what happened. Are you saying "he asked for it" or "he deserved it?" or "he had it coming?". Is it his fault? I bet you are the kind of person who sees a girl in short skirt who got raped and blames her for it.

Murat said: "3. Thusly, Turkish citizens continue to live, and avoid getting their brains blown out in broad daylight."

Wow. Once again you are blaming Hrant for it. You are saying "others live in Turkey and they don't get shot, but Hrant got shot, so it must be his fault."

Don't blame me for putting words in your mouth. If I am wrong, then you should clarify your thoughts.

By the way, many people live in Europe and they don't get shot, so any Turkish diplomats that were allegedly killed by Armenians, were clearly doing something wrong. They shouldn't have been Deniers. They shouldn't have been diplomats. In fact, no one should be a Turkish diplomat, in any country.

That's a profession that's dangerous to one's health!

Anonim said...

Murat, so what are you saying? 301 is essentially about discouraging foolishness, and "Turkishness" and how not to denigrate it are not in need of explanation because "[you] don't care"? Is that it again? I thought it was your original point to which I objected. Though your wording before was not as elegant... Thanks for reminding. I obviously can't keep up with your "logic and reason." You are now perfectly understood.

Call me myopic; suggest I am putting words in your mouth or preaching to the choir; propose I should get over myself! These don't change the fact that you are, at worst, defending an atmosphere of fear and terror, or at best, accepting such as fact of life that couldn't be helped. Age-old and equally bankrupt positions Turkey cannot afford to bear for too much longer. If I am coming across to you as shouting from the rooftops here, it is because I am fed up, and can't bear this kind of emotional retardation coming out of my countrymen's mouths anymore.

Well, what can I say? I invited you to explain something, and asked what it would mean if you didn't. What did you do? You didn't explain crap, and accused me of insinuating something instead. Let's see how you would like the following.

Hodja Nasreddin wakes up one morning to find out that his home was burglarized while he was fast asleep. Neighbors and relatives, upon hearing the incident, flock to Hodja's, and begin to interrogate him. Did you not lock your door and windows? Why didn't you keep your gold coins in the safe? Why were you in such deep sleep? Didn't you hear any noise? Oh, foolish Hodja! After quite an earful of such laments and accusations, Hodja replies: Oh mercy you all! Does the burglar or the night patrol not bear any part of the blame?

Of course, they sure bear most of the blame. But, most contemporaries of Hodja's accept that aspect of the affair as life's trivia that can't be helped. Don't ask how laments after the fact may help anything? And when did our proverbial Hodja live? Just out of curiosity: was it, umm, like, 14th or 15th century?