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January 25, 2013, Friday

A standard case of racism

Turkey, in order to ensure equality between its citizens regardless of their ethnic identity or religion, is in a period where it has signed its names to important reforms, so the statement made by the main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) İzmir representative Birgül Ayman Güler actually aren't saying anything new.

She is trying to explain the extent of the discomfort felt by a community described as nationalistic, which has heard that the obstacles in front of the use of the Kurdish language could be lifted, the fear of schism produced by this discomfort and a worry. Güler is saying that Turks will not accept equality with Kurds without maintaining their own rights, and they also believe everyone is not entitled to the same rights they have.

Her approach exceeds the racism of old hate speech about Turkish-Kurdish equality. However, she says those who call her racist are ignorant. In the context of equality and all that is tied to that idea, she is providing, in her own way, a “scientific” explanation for why Parliament is wrong to Kurds the right to defend themselves in their mother tongue.

She is arguing that everyone under the sun has tripartite identity: clan, people, and nationality, and that a people who have not yet attained the status of nationhood can't receive equal rights with a people who have received nationhood. But she isn't content with this argument. With an announcement that equality is a step towards the destruction of the Turkish state, she calls on the Turkish people to use “their right to defend themselves against attacks.”

Today according to the legal norms between nationalities in effect in most countries, especially those in the European Union, we are face to face with a typical case of racism. Those who espouse racism are interesting because they don't even realize they are behaving racist. Turkey is changing, but the Kemalists want to bring the discussion for ethnic equality to the country in order to block this change.

If Kemalists acknowledged a set of rights for a group of people, the Kurds in Turkey and other ethnicities, they believe it would destroy the nation-state. They write that they can not permit the existence of a second nation on Anatolian soil with rights like Turks. Because of this they fear Turkey's democratic progression. They meet the government's changing of laws that previously expressed a singular vision of the nation-state towards turning the nation into one that shows respect to everyone's ethnic identity and religion with great concern and worry. Today they want to defend the power of the Republican period and assimilationist politics.

Kemalists miss the days of the Turkish ethnic identity being the only identity and the Turkification politics that were applied in Turkey for 30 years. They support the massacres that were committed during those years as “civilizing projects embarked on as a revolutionary step.

When Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan apologized in Parliament for the 1938 Dersim Massacre, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, himself from Dersim and whose family lost 29 people in the massacre tried to justify the massacre by the Kemalist republic by saying “they are normal things among the course of revolution.” For all these reasons, it is difficult for the CHP to move towards accepting and respecting different cultures and beliefs.

The angry speeches that CHP representatives make from their pulpit in Parliament reflect the school of thought that dominates the CHP. It shocks even those who are already shocked by this speech and says, “I am only expressing the matters that are a part of my party's platform.” I don't think the racism in the CHP party's platform is defended out in the open, but for those who vote for the CHP, it is clear there is an important segment directing the party that is influenced by racism.

Is there even any use in requesting that this woman apologize to the citizens of the Turkish Republic who don't enjoy equality with Turks, or even her resignation? In my opinion, there isn't. Because she didn't stumble. She was only speaking the feelings of her party and the feelings of an important segment that votes for her party. Because within the CHP and society there are quite a few Birgül Ayman Güler's.

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