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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Secular Turkey

Rebecca Goldstein defines three simple forms of secularism while admitting that this is itself simplistic.  All three forms reject the intercession of a transcendent entity in human affairs. The first, political secularism rejects religion in shaping the public aspects of society.   The second form is “metaphysical secularism” where what you see is what you get! A priori not everything can be explained by science but the tools are ultimately all there for us to eventually decipher our universe. The third form is “normative secularism”. Quite simply the question is “what is required of a human being to live a life worth living? What differs the normative secularist experience from a religious life is the commitment to a non-theistic dialogue in analysing and seeking answers to the question, what constitutes the good life.”

In order to interact Secularism and Theism have to be able to unconditionally respect each other.  This respect is a concept that is antithetical to an ecclesiastical polity.  This is best illustrated by the case of what was once called ‘secular Turkey’, the only Islamic State in the world out of 56 Islamic states that was founded on the rejection of a political place for religion in State affairs.  The synthesis of militant theology, hubristic triumphalism and racist religious world view has overwhelmed the creative tension of this secular society. The interplay of conspiracy theories, a robust fascist literary tradition and the encouragement of a rich Islamic tradition that exhorts the faithful to domination and conquest is ultimately stronger than a secular tradition that fails to deliver prosperity.

It is difficult therefore to appreciate why we are so surprised that anti-Semitism is so easily utilized as a vehicle for political identification by the Islamist Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  It has always been there.  No respect is given to its minorities.  Assimilated Kurds may feel equal but on a racial level they will always be inferior to the Turk because they do not have their own homeland and nation state. 

And then there is the question of Turkish allegiance. In World War One it fought on the side of Germany and in World War Two was broadly sympathetic to Nazi ideology.  Catholic Ireland was also on the side of Nazi Germany. Eire’s excuse was that they supported anyone who was against their enemy, in this case the British.  The argument has continued to this day with Catholic Ireland enjoying the support of Islamic terrorist movements during their 30 year war against Britain. 

Turkey is racially non-Arab.  It views itself through eyes that are Turkish first and Islamic second.  But in any case it would view itself through Turkish eyes whatever the motive for conquest.  Israel must accept the fact that both secular and religious Turkey will always share animosity towards a Jewish State. The difference is not in the outcome, only perhaps in the delivery.  While secular Turkey enjoyed positive relations with its Jewish citizens this did not preclude its attachment to Nazi ideology. Religious Turkey is simply showing its true face and that is one that demands Islamic hegemony and acquiescence to humiliation as a precondition for acceptance.

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