Taking Turkey Personally
I've been following the Turkish bid to join the EU for years now, and taking it personally. I was nervous when I read that Austria opposed them and felt genuine relief and pure joy when there was an eleventh hour reprieve.
Modern Turkey surely is a state that played it right: under Ataturk it modernized, Westernized and secularized. The Arabic alphabet was out, Roman alphabet in; women were emancipated, veils were out and men's turbans as well. The aim was to be European.
If the EU had rejected Turkey it would have confirmed the worst fears of all cultural outsiders, in particular all Muslims, viz. that exclusion was inevitable: that no matter how acculturated a nation or individual became there would be no way to overcome "otherness"--and appearance. The message would have been clear: we don't care how committed you are to democracy and the values of the Enlightenment, how much you want to assimilate, how far you will go to adopt the values and policies of liberal European nations--we will not accept you because you are Other, and because we don't want lots of swarthy Mediterranean types with big mustaches and lots of body hair getting access to our countries.