This piece from the New Duranty Times about the murder of Hrant Dink should be used in journalism classes as an example of how to deliberately (and even, in parts, undeliberately) mislead the audience and oneself — and yet to include, almost unwittingly, other material that does not fit the agreed-upon narrative. In this case, that the guilty party is a “nationalist” motivated by “nationalism” and that “nationalism” has no substratum of Islam, when Turkish nationalism is in fact a deliberately cultivated calque and variant upon Islam, with the non-Muslims in Turkey still discriminated against (or, as they were during World War II, made subject to special, Jizyah-like taxes) as they were under pre-Kemalist Islam.
The Christian Armenians were not killed in 1894-96, nor in 1909, nor in the final and largest massacres of 1915-1920, by Muslim Turks only, but also in places by Muslim Kurds. And even later, as the survivors, mostly women and children, made it to fellow Christians in Haleb (Aleppo) and Beirut, they were also set upon by Muslim Arabs. They were killed because they were Christians who dared to behave, and were feared for behaving, not as dhimmis but as free men. On this many of the Turks agreed. It was also the “reformers” or Young Turks, like Talaat Pasha, who were as murderous, and then some, as any Turks during the 1894-96 Hamidian (under Abdul Hamid II) massacres.
Kemalism, or Turkish nationalism, does not make a clean break with Islam. It is based on a mimicking of Islam. There is the total system. There is the Maximum Leader, the one must worship in thought, word, and deed. Only that Maximum Leader presented for adoration and worship is not Muhammad, but Kemal Pasha. The new belief-system was an attempt to replace one primitive and Total System by another that was less primitive and more open to the modern world. The new one would therefore, Ataturk believed, be more likely to be able to handle the modern world and survive in it. Thus the Cult of the Turk was started under Ataturk, and then expanded under Inonu and other successors.
The cult of the Turk does a number of things. It backdates the arrival of both the Seljuk and the Osmanli Turks, so that “the Turk” is seen as having always been the inhabitant of Anatolia, right back through the time of Byzantium, all the way to the Hittites. How history in its “Turkish” version is taught is something that should be presented by intelligent Turks abroad, who at least — unlike those brought up strictly on Islam — are able, or at least some of them are, to regard the whole business with the skeptical eye of a true Westerner. There are not many of these, but there are certainly more of them than there are of similarly clear-sighted Arabs. Of those there are practically none who can admit to themselves, much less to the world, what societies suffused with Islam must necessarily produce.
The “nationalism” that this Turkish reporter keeps attempting to fix our attention on is not only nationalism but nationalism-cum-religion. The killing of the priest, the hints of “nationalism plus religion” — it’s there, but only for those who already know enough to know where to look. And very few of the readers of The Times will know enough to know what is wrong with that report, and what — malgre the journalist’s best efforts — is nonetheless smuggled in.
It’s still there. It didn’t go away. Just when you think it might have succumbed, it keeps coming back.
It is the secular class in Turkey that is going to have to admit this to itself. It is going to have to rediscover, and then to go much beyond, far beyond, Kemalism and the Cult or Myth of the Turk. Those Westernized istambullis, perhaps dining out with one or more of the Freeleys tonight, or who have a signed copy of one of Orhan Pamuk’s books in their library, had better get cracking if they don’t want the Turkey they allow themselves to believe exists and dominates (but it doesn’t, they’ve got it wrong) to disappear altogether.
The Kemalist “revolution” was not that much of a “revolution.” The real ideological revolution in Turkey, in which neither Islam dominates, nor a substitute cult with a substitute Great and Perfect Man, has yet to come.