Friday, October 07, 2005

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.


Boofykatz said...

My nearest and dearest asked me what would stop turks flooding into the west of Europe, by which she meant Britain, if they got EU membership.I pointed out that the best way of stopping economic migration is to make it unnecessary. I too am delighted that the apparent misoxenism of the Austrians has been overcome. I certainly do not buy the rubbish about 'the later Roman empire' and 'the heritage of Greece and Rome preserved in Byzantium. That was swept away by the Ottomans so that there are no greek place names on modern maps of Turkey. But there is, as you say, a willingness to put reason tolerance before religion; and that is a lesson that many EU citizens would do well to heed.

H. E. said...

Here is a very nice piece from The American Prospect, "The End of the Population Movement" by a past president of the Sierra Club making that point: when economic conditions are improved in third world countries, emigration will become less attractive.

As far as the Heritage of Ancient Civilization goes, before Byron revived Hellenism the Greeks weren't very Greek either. For that matter, the English aren't in the least Anglo-Saxon--try reading Beowulf in the original sometime.

Scott said...

Turkey's entry into the EU should be directly linked to it ending the official denial of the Armenian holocaust and stopping the government harassment of scholars who want to even discuss the issue. To my mind, Turkey gets a failing grade on freedom of speech issues.

"Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" -- Adolf Hitler, speaking to his military advisors on August 22, 1939

Some Guy with a Weblog (and a Wii) said...

Their entry should also be linked to the immediate settlement of the Cyprus situation, their withdrawal of armed forces from the island.

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