“The imperial notion, by its very definition, posits the domination of one ethnic, religious, or national group over another, and the Ottoman Empire was no exception.” –Ephraim Karsh, from Islamic Imperialism
Turkey’s history, together with its present political footwork in regards to ISIS, represents, for me, everything bad about Islam. I remember reading somewhere years ago, before Erdogan’s Islamist party came to power, that Turkey could be counted on as a real friend to Israel. I thought at the time, as I think now, that the State of Israel, a country predominantly Jewish, should never count on an allegiance with any country predominantly Muslim. Not only because of the ingrained Arab Muslim culture of anti-Jewish hatred, or because, as Wesley Pruden opined recently in the Washington Times, “The Arabs make great assassins, but of soldiers, not so much.” But also because any state wherein Islam exists as the preponderant religion subsequently degenerates, inevitably, into a country extremely prone to internecine conflict, even national immolation whenever the envisioned terminus of the opposing faction is heralded as a higher level of devotion to the credenda of Islam.
George Clemenceau, a French statesman and Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920, one of the main architects of the Treaty of Versailles, famously said of Turkey (as quoted in Margaret Macmillan’s Paris 1919), “There is no case to be found either in Europe or Asia or Africa in which the establishment of Turkish rule in any country has not been followed by a diminution of material prosperity, and a fall in the level of culture; nor is there any case to be found in which the withdrawal of Turkish rule has not been followed by a growth in material prosperity and a rise in the level of culture. Neither among the Christians of Europe nor among the Moslems of Syria, Arabia and Africa, has the Turk done other than destroy wherever he has conquered.” Of course, this was before Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his “six arrows of Kemalism”—before his reforms, which included the abolishment of the Turkish caliphate, transformed Turkey and its majority Muslim population from a dull and dying empire into a revitalized nation at least willing to give secularization—separation of state and religion—a chance to prove its efficaciousness.
But old habits die hard. Fast forward to the present and we see the Islamist party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan winning a recent election; a victory, as reported in the New York Times, “ensuring Mr. Erdogan’s continued dominance of Turkish politics after months of political turmoil and violence.” Not surprisingly, “The result will permit Mr. Erdogan to remain the country’s preeminent political figure while pushing the boundaries of the constitutional limits of the presidency, a largely ceremonial role.” It seems Muslim societies cannot escape their ancient folly of feeling safe while living within the cuddle of tyrants and dictators. Like Khaled Mashal, leader of the terrorist entity Hamas in Gaza, Erdogan knows that citing the pious designs of Islam and the injustices, real or imagined, committed against its adherents, always appeals to the common Muslim consciousness. The Economist reports (Sept 13, 2014) that, “In Mr. Erdogan’s Turkey, praying five times a day and observing Ramadan are pluses. Cabinet ministers eager to curry favour tweet verses from the Koran.” Turkey’s secular thinkers believe, and with good reason, that, “Mr. Erdogan wants to replace Ataturk’s republic with Islamist rule. They cite changes in education. The number of imam hatip (Sunni Islamic clerical training) schools has doubled in five years, and pupils who fail the new exam to get into their first choice have been pushed into imam hatip schools instead.” President Barack Obama used the same sycophantic strategy to insure American Muslim favour (read votes) when he wrote in his book The Audacity of Hope, “In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging.”
And this brings me to my point, which is that, once Muslims become a majority of the population in either the United States or Canada (and, according to Mark Steyn’s demographics, this majority could soon become a reality), once their “ancient folly” begins to make waves here, there is no turning back. There is no hope of ever regaining the democratic freedoms and liberties so many of us now take for granted. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. As the minorities of Turkey have endured for centuries, we will become nothing more than myopic citizens concatenated to an ugly circular existence: We will have our moments of clarity and our very own versions of “Kemalism,” but, like the secularists and pro-democracy advocates of Turkey, because of our inferior numbers we will be pulled back down into the dark abyss of barbaric Islamist trumpery. Rabbi Meir Kahane foresaw and exposed this Islamist threat as it related to the State of Israel and for his patriotism—his Judaism—he was banished from Israeli politics forever, his name tarnished beyond repair, and was later murdered by a Muslim assassin in New York City. Let’s hope the future holds more promise for those potential leaders of today who prove they possess the courage to rise above the petty wisdom of party politics in order to tell their fellow citizens what they need to hear, not what they like to hear. Otherwise, as Plato warned, “Democracy passes into despotism.”