Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sending Messages

There have been a lot of messages sent in the past few weeks, and it's taken a bit of time to digest them all. Let's look at the previous grab-bag, and then we'll move on to what just came over the Internet Series Of Tubes.


Cho Seung-Hui sent a message to the United States that we need to have mental health checks as well as criminal background checks in order to get a handgun. Crazy people will lay about them with whatever is at hand (sword, machete, pointed stick, steel dildo, etc.) - let's not make it easier for them to slay large numbers of people so promiscuously.


A militia in Alabama may as well have sent the message "Hey, old son, while ya'll watchin' them ragheads, ya might keep yer eyes peeled fer good God-fearing Christians named Billy Bob" to the American people, as about a half-dozen of them were rounded up by the cops yesterday with enough weapons, ammunition and explosives to start a minor war.


The American people sent a message back in November that they were fed up with the war in Iraq and they wanted a change. So they got one - Bush escalated. Now the Congress, finally feeling something akin to balls under their smooth-as-a-Ken-doll trousers, have sent him a deadline. Bush, naturally, has threatened to veto, but he's been known to threaten vetoes before. He usually signs the bill and then signs a "signing statement" that basically says "Fuck you."
A bunch of verbal slaps and groin-kicks have been exchanged with all the verve of a Jackie Chan movie so far, with the bill coming to the White House on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Americans and Iraqis keep dying.


Which brings me to what showed up on the BBC website this morning. The news comes from Turkey, where the pro-religious AK Party has seen its candidate for President fail by only 10 votes of not getting elected to that powerful post. Apparently, they didn't ask Karl Rove to help them leverage the members of parliament, who do the actual voting.

All of this does not sit well with the Turkish Army, which sees itself as the guarantor of the legacy of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, and the secular society he created. Hence my misgivings when the Turkish Armed Forces issued this statement (excerpts; emphases are mine):

"It is observed that some circles who have been carrying out endless efforts to disturb fundamental values of the Republic of Turkey, especially secularism, have escalated their efforts recently.
"Those activities include requests for redefinition of fundamental values and attempts to organise alternative celebrations instead of our national festivals symbolizing unity and solidarity of our nation. Those who carry out the mentioned activities which have turned into an open challenge against the state, do not refrain from exploiting holy religious feelings of our people, and they try to hide their real aims under the guise of religion.
"An important part of these activities were done with the permission and within the knowledge of administrative authorities, who were supposed to intervene and prevent such incidents, a fact which intensifies the gravity of the issue.
"This fundamentalist understanding, which is anti-republic and harbours no aim other than eroding the basic characteristics of the state, finds courage in recent developments and discourses and extends the scope of its activities.
"Developments in our region give numerous examples that playing on religion and manipulating the faith into a political discourse can cause disasters. There are accounts in our country and abroad that a political discourse or an ideology can destroy the faith itself and turn it into something else when it is imposed on faith... Doubtlessly, the sole condition for the Republic of Turkey to live in peace and stability as a contemporary democracy is through defending the basic characteristics of our state which are defined in the Constitution.
"The problem that emerged in the presidential election process is focused on arguments over secularism. Turkish Armed Forces are concerned about the recent situation. It should not be forgotten that the Turkish Armed Forces are a party in those arguments, and absolute defender of secularism. Also, the Turkish Armed Forces is definitely opposed to those arguments and negative comments. It will display its attitude and action openly and clearly whenever it is necessary.
"Those who are opposed to Great Leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's understanding 'How happy is the one who says I am a Turk' are enemies of the Republic of Turkey and will remain so. The Turkish Armed Forces maintain their sound determination to carry out their duties stemming from laws to protect the unchangeable characteristics of the Republic of Turkey. Their loyalty to this determination is absolute."

Now, this open statement caused the AK Party to issue a statement repeating that the military is under civilian authority - which hasn't mattered much, since the military has overthrown the government when it feels that the government is violating the legacy left by Ataturk. Further, the Turks are trying to join the European Union, an attempt that would be rendered moot if the Army takes over. The Army, on the other hand, may not care.

Now, how this and consequent developments might affect Turkey's relations with the Kurds to their south will be interesting to see.


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