Let’s Liberate the American People!
If redesigning the Middle East is legitimate for the USA, then why shouldn’t others redesign the USA?
In this column, which makes use of cinematic jump cuts, Tarık Günersel writes, not for the first time, about the dangers of a solid relationship between Erdogan’s government and the United States. He starts by describing the effects of the narrow religious mentality imposed by Erdogan’s government, then explains the USA’s historic meddling in Turkey. Following this, Günersel takes the reader to a new, hypothetical map of the USA, discusses many aspects of what he calls Islamofascism, and ends by sending a message to the American government that “the norms of a democracy can no longer be limited to internal mechanisms.” All of which is delivered with a high dose of wit.
“Unmarried university students…
… should not live in the same apartment,” PM Erdoğan roared. “It is against our religion. Girls and boys must be in separate buildings.”
- Life is words in action, literature is action in words.
Humans are about to destroy their spaceship Earth. Some of them are aware of this and they try to change the course of events. Will they succeed? Will more humans be alarmed and do something?
Literature is vital and translators are messengers of world peace.
Though I shall focus on the literary scene in Turkey and its problems regarding freedom of expression, I shall not omit the other parts of our planet. Today local is global and vice versa.
- Tarık Günersel is a poet, playwright, aphorist, librettist and short story writer. He is the president of PEN Turkey and an ex-member of the PEN International Board. He studied English Literature at Istanbul University. A self-exile after the military coup in 1980, he spent four years in Saudi Arabia with his wife Füsun and their daughter Barış, teaching English. A dramaturg at Istanbul City Theater since 1991, he has acted on stage and screen and directed some of his plays. He proposed World Poetry Day in 1997 which was accepted by PEN International and declared by UNESCO as the 21st of March. His translations into Turkish include works by Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Arthur Miller. His works include The Nightmare of a Labyrinth (mosaic of poems and stories), and How’s your slavery goin’? His Oluşmak (To Become), a “life guide for myself,” includes ideas from world wisdom of the past four millennia. He has recently initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the support of several intellectuals from various parts of the planet.
Now conservative neighbors can call the police, who will check on the youngsters, then report to their parents. A few cohabiting university students have already been fined by the police, who claimed that neighbors were disturbed by noise from the apartment.
It is normal for some university students to come together and rent an apartment as a group. Naturally, some of them may have intimate relationships with one another. But aren’t they adults?
Back in the 1990s, when he was mayor, Erdoğan considered himself the Imam of Istanbul, the religious leader responsible for the dignity of the people. Now he sees himself as the Imam of the country! Some people even consider him to be the new Caliph, the leader of all the world’s Muslims.
Map 1: Redesigning the Middle East
In the beginning of the 21st Century, a few US generals threw a map in front of some Turkish generals: It depicted a new set of borders for Turkey and countries in the Middle East. Consequently, it also defined Turkey as a Middle Eastern country. As might be surmised, the Turkish generals reacted negatively to the US generals’ imposing attitude. Now the Turkish generals, admirals, and high-ranking army officers who opposed the map are in prison.
In 2004 the US government publicly proclaimed that new states would soon be formed in the Middle East. PM Erdoğan proudly announced that he was Co-Director (with George W. Bush) of the new Middle East Project.
Recently, a significant number of high-ranking Turkish army officers have been sentenced to life imprisonment, including the former Commander-in-Chief, İlker Başbuğ. Those involved have been accused of preparing of a coup d’etat, with Başbuğ as the leader of the organization behind the coup!
As an anti-militarist, I say: Oh come on!
Law? What law? Justice? What justice?
In Turkey the ideal of a secular and democratic republic has come under attack from Erdoğan and his AK Party. For a long time now the US has been working toward redesigning the Middle East according to its interests under the guise of “liberating” various peoples. At one point most Americans were made to believe in this philosophy. I’m afraid many still do.
The US government and its strategists find nothing wrong with invading countries, preparing coups d’Etat, etc. They draw new maps and try to impose them. Is that democratic?
Map 2: Redesigning the USA
How about changing the roles, for fun?
Many people agree that the US is not democratic enough. So why shouldn’t the internationalist democrats of the world join forces to liberate the American people?
Some concerned non-Americans could prepare an alternative map for the betterment of Americans. If having more countries would be better for the Middle East, as some US strategists claim, then probably more than one USA would be better for the American people too.
“Divide and rule!” is not only an imperialist slogan. No, it seems that American hegemonic circles could function better with four separate countries called USA East, USA West, USA North, and USA South. QUSA (Quarter USA) would also be a reasonable term. Then we could have QUSAE, QUSAW, QUSAN, and QUSAS. And why bother with a federation? Let them be four separate countries with friendly ties.
How does that sound? Nice? No? But that is exactly what the US government has been doing in other parts of the world!
Islamofascism in Turkey
In harmony with the strategy that Samuel Huntington outlines in The Clash of Civilizations (1996), Erdoğan’s AK Party has been trying to get rid of Atatürk’s legacy, especially the ideal of a pro-Western, pro-peace, secular, and democratic republic.
PM Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül have recently removed the silhouette of Atatürk and the initials T.C.–meaning Türkiye Cumhuriyeti (Republic of Turkey)—from the medal for the Order of State, the highest governmental decoration. This is one of the many attacks that have been perpetrated against the secularist founder of Turkey, who was also the victorious leader of the national war of liberation.
Atatürk died on November 10, 1938. Deeply loved and respected during his lifetime, he is loved and respected even more today because of the worsening situation in Turkey, namely the intensification of Sunni Islamofascism.
As a reaction to PM Erdoğan’s rude and despotic attacks, and the worsening situation in Turkey, Atatürk’s mausoleum in Ankara, Anıtkabir, was visited by more than 1 million people on November 10 this year, three times the number of visitors in 2012. The Gezi Park demonstrations and resistance movement were also against Erdoğan’s growing oppression.
Ulusal Kanal (National Channel)
Now Ulusal Kanal, one of the few secularist TV channels, has been accused of inciting people to a rebellion during the Gezi Park demonstrations. But Ulusal Kanal did its pro-democratic duty. Highly critical of the AK Party government, and rightly so, it faces numerous court cases.
A truly secular and democratic republic is a reasonable and vital common denominator for the significant majority of people in Turkey.
Norms of a Democracy
The US should give up trying to create a puppet in this or that country and accept a reasonable government, which may not agree on certain issues, but can be trusted to function democratically and respect human rights.
The norms of a democracy can no longer be limited to internal mechanisms. International actions should also support that ideal.
I find it positive that a statue of Atatürk has recently been erected in the US. More Turks should know about Benjamin Franklin, and more Americans should know about Atatürk.
Against Islamofascism and Islamophobia
Muslims who do not want Islamophobia should not support Islamofascism.
Rumi, the great 13th Century poet, was also a Muslim.
You cannot hope to have moderate Islam unless you support secularism.
That is why Atatürk’s secularist, pro-science, pro-arts, and pro-peace legacy (which also happens to be based on gender equality) is important not only for the future of Turkey but also for the future of Europe and the US.
Obama needs an appointment with me.
But he is not aware of it.