Wrong prescription for Turkey

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 08.52.59Turn Anatolia into a Western-style social rat’s nest? No thanks

On no subject, writes Dalrymple,

is the Turkish state more sensitive than on the massacre of the Armenians in 1915. Was it one massacre among others, or the 20th century’s first genocide?

The novelist Elif Şafak specialises, Dalrymple points out, in

in inflaming the sore points of Turkish history. She wants a Turkey less ethnically and culturally homogeneous than that of the traditional Kemalist vision, and questions the sanctity of Atatürk and the army that protects his legacy, but expresses sympathy for Kurds and even Greeks.

But, Dalrymple says,

one may doubt whether the realistic alternative to the Kemalist version of Turkey is a multiculturalist paradise, where the Turk lies down with the Greek, rather than a Muslim theocracy.

Unfortunately Şafak subscribes, Dalrymple points out, to the

hackneyed views of the 1960s that have brought much social dislocation to the West, and would be more devastating still in Turkey.

She

reflects upon her own experience as an upper-middle-class intellectual and assumes that it is exemplary for millions.

This attitude is not

a useful prescription for all of Turkish society, or at least for that considerable part of it that does not live in, and was not raised in, cosmopolitan circles. Şafak seems a typical example of the intellectual who uses personal history uncritically to draw conclusions about society as a whole.

All the same, needless to say, such intellectuals, however dangerous they might be,

should not have to go to jail for their views.

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