“Here comes everybody.” Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
The court reconvenes. All will be seated, announces a voice from somewhere in the deep, deep state. The accused, the accursed, the acculturative Ilhan Selçuk, editor of Cumhuriyet newspaper, already sits serenely beside his counsel, chatting amiably about the weather, the decor, amidst idle reflections about the rising smell of fish. Selçuk does not appear shaken one jot by the bone-chilling accusation that eight years ago, in the privacy of a public auditorium, he had encouraged women to let the wind, the infernal wind, tousle their hair, their infernal hair. The two Grandest of Inquisitors enter circumstantially with evidentiary dossiers piled dangerously high and leaking documents. They exude all the personal pomp prescribed by spiritual law. Alas, they seem sorely beset with concerns of news recent to them about the doings of one Charles Darwin. It seems there have been revelations of fossils recently unearthed in the center of Taksim. And they prove beyond scientific doubt that certain olivine-basalts in the tectonic formations particular to the seven hills of Istanbul have conspired to engage in evolutionary magma mixing resulting in a metamorphose into hand grenades, flares, and small arms, particulary Glock semi-automatic pistols. In other words, the Ergenekon weapons caches may be in accord with the natural law and enlightenment. “So typical of science,” mutters the taller Grandest Inquisitor in scowling grandiosity. “Darwin?” asks the other, “If he’s Turkish, we should arrest him?”
Footmen quickly slide chairs under them, further easing their straining way in their world so clearly ordained by God. Now harken!—soul clap hands and sing! The President and Chief Republican Notary enters, agilely interposing his persona between the two Grandest of Inqisitors thus setting off a redolent whiff of favoritism. A footman slides a chair under him as well; Allah be praised for the all-serving footmen. At the prosecutorial table all is calm, all is clear, all is preordained, predestined, and prejudicial. Now the proud and pious purveyors of evidentiary propaganda, the editors, that is, the “writers of fiction” (1) of the religious media take their rightful, God-given places behind the Inquisitors. A frenzy of backslapping, and worse, ensues until all parties are breathless. So-called “new republican” liberals (liboş) ( 2), also known as “official toadies,” enter clamorously proclaiming the natural wonders of justice, democracy, America’s bicameral legislative system, federalism, CIA green card sponsorship, strolling in New York’s Central Park, Swiss bank accounts, and of being quoted in the New York Times. But they are hushed by the ever-impartial, ever-magnaminous president of Turkey with his customary breathless prose.
Meanwhile, various and sundry Nakşibendi Şeyhs, Dedes, Dervishes, Seyyits, Çelebis, Babas, Emirs, palm readers, magicians, dice-throwers, amulet sellers, mausoleum guards (3), and scribblers with protruding notepads swarm to their seats. All journalists in the pay of foreign powers enter scratching their capacious guts, their noses browned by years of pandering (4). From the center door emerge the fourteen great grandchildren of the British adventurer, the Reverend Robert Frew (5). Now Sykes, Picot, and David Lloyd George enter brandishing carving knives. Some young and not so young people sally forth under the banner of Turkish Youth subtly disguised as communists, bolsheviks, menshiviks, no-good-niks, poets, and jazz clarinetists. They are joined in equal number by Kurds (6). A platoon of French army officers dressed as bicyclists accompanied by a smattering of Jesuits (7) disguised as Benedictines. Five Torah-toting rabbis from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police attempt to interrogate influential Americans who are groping for seats next to influential Armenians (8). An exuberant group wearing Golden Generation tee-shirts and chanting Feto! Feto! arrive on a bus from Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. All space deemed empty and otherwise barren by the minister of the interior is used to seat collaborators of all types including TV moderators, panelists, experts, anchors (male and female). Former adherents of globalization such as corporate executives, economists, professors, and columnists bow and scrape into vacant crevasses. A banner hangs on the back wall: Society of the Friends of England. Another: Mavri Mira. Another: Woodrow Wilson Society. Another: The EU Loves All of YOU. And another: Mission Accomplished.
Bowing and scraping, the presiding judiciary enters embarrassedly. The trial is gaveled to order. It is stipulated that, since the charges have already been read, a process that took three weeks, they need not be read again. The prosecutorial table hail at tops of their collective lungs the good judgment of the judges.
Suddenly a noise from outside clamorous shouts in the street following. The accursed, accused, acculturative Ilhan Selçuk ponders a passage he read long ago in a book not mentioned in his indictment:
"He came softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, everyone recognized Him. The people are irresistibly drawn to Him, they surround Him, they flock about Him, follow Him. He moves silently in their midst with a gentle smile of infinite compassion. The sun of love burns in His heart, and power shines from His eyes, and their radiance, shed on the people, stirs their hearts with responsive love." The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The shouts become clearer. “It is he!—It is he!” Yes, nods Selçuk, He has come to bear witness for me and for himself. And indeed he has. For Mustafa Kemal Atatürk stands before them, as big as life. Suddenly, there are no years.
The bank of judges uncharacteristically exudes respect. Due to the judiciary being stricken with an overwhelming case of shock and awe, Atatürk is immediately legally designated as a “Friend of the Court,” an Amicus Curiae (9). This is yet another incorrect legal decision made by the court since Atatürk is a party to the lawsuit. He knows this. But also knows that this court has no legal standing. So Atatürk speaks:
"This indictment is based on a speech given by the accused in 2001, two years before the ruling party came to power. One wonders about this delay in preferring charges and deferring prosecution of the accused, Ilhan Selçuk. That outrageous lack of due process notwithstanding, the case remains trivial on its merits. The only crime committed is the insult rendered by the Grandest of Inquisitors to the Turkish judicial system, as well as the Turkish nation, for drafting such an incomprehensible and, indeed, illiterate document. It is something worthy of the Dark Ages and, accordingly, should be consigned to the garbage dump of history where I placed the entire lot of these Ottoman-era incompetents. I move for an immediate dissolution of this trumped up court and an immediate dismissal of these ridiculous charges."
The presiding judges eye each other. Not a fingertip moves. One mutters though clenched teeth to avoid observation. "We collectively rule that you can continue to speak, your most highest form of excellency."
"Gentlemen, I am in awe of your courage to render such a quick, incisive decision. And please don't rest your collective heads on your collective hands while I am speaking. In the interests of the historical record of this sordid case, I will comment, point by point, on this nonsensical indictment.
As you recall, it begins turgidly: When the text of the speech,“Enlightenment Revolution and Globalization,” found through the search of the suspect, Ihan Selçuk, given by the suspect, Ilhan Selçuk, to the students of Uludağ University in the Rectorship Building in October 2001, was analyzed: When the suspect, Ilhan Selçuk is evaluated together with this conference, and other writings and speeches;
CHARGE 1. The thought structure of the suspect, Ilhan Selçuk, claims and on every opportunity relates to the audience and readers that enlightenment can only happen through the mind and science.
May I ask the court, just what organ, other than the brain, from which the mind emanates, resulting in reasoning, perception, memory, will, emotion, and creativity, just what other organ would be the portal for the condition known as enlightenment? Does not the court understand that the Latin root of the word science, scientia, means knowledge. And just where does the prosecution think, if I am not being too generous in my supposition of thinking, just where does it THINK the focal point of knowledge is? Such specious, sloppy analysis, and tortured writing, by the prosecution is shameful.
I continue by further noting Article 7 of the manifesto ratified by both the Erzurum and Sivas Congresses in 1919 which states: “Our nation fully appreciates modern ideals and is fully enlightened about our condition and our needs from the scientific, industrial and economic points of view. Consequently—as long as we preserve our internal and external independence, as well as the integrity of our country—scientific, industrial and economic help from any Power would be warmly welcomed by us, provided that it respects our national feelings and the frontiers laid down in Article 6, and exhibits no imperialistic intentions towards us. For the sake of humanity and the peace of the world, the speedy conclusion of peace based on these just and humane conditions is our ardent wish.” (10)
Can anything be clearer regarding the bedrock scientific proposition of our nation? And that was written ninety years ago! Consider today, Gentlemen! Are we now in some feudal time that eschews science and technology?
Moreover, in my remarks made in Samsun on 24 September 1924, I put an even finer point on the the sources of societal governance. Listen closely to what I said:
“For everything in the world—for civilization, for life, for success—the truest guide is knowledge and science. To seek a guide other than knowledge and science is a mark of recklessness, ignorance, and aberration.” (11)
Years ago, I thought I put the final nail in the coffin for this persistently, nonsensical and counterintuitive argument now presented by the ruling party. On 1 November 1937, one year before I left you I spoke of it. What have you learned since then to now present such nonsense in a court of law before the eyes of the world? Do you remember what I said? For you to proceed even one step with this nonsensical indictment shows that you clearly did not. So listen again, and listen well!
“We do not consider our principles as dogmas contained in books said to come from heaven. We derive our inspiration, not from heaven, or the unseen world, but directly from life.” (12)
And consider this, too:
“In spite of everything, we are most certainly moving towards the light. The power which keeps faith alive in me is not just from my infinite love for my dear country and people, but because I see young people who are moved purely by love of country and by the truth of their efforts to find and to spread light amid today’s darkness, immorality and fraud.” (13)
And let me define again what I mean by “young people.” It will come in handy later.
“Youth as I understand it to be is the individuals who will adopt the concepts and the ideology of the Turkish revolutionary changes and pass them on to future generations. In my opinion, a twenty year old fanatic is old aged, but a seventy year-old idealist is a fresh youth. This is the Turkish youth that I understand.” (14)
Now I shall speak on a more personal level. The two Grandest of Inquisitors and the judicial authorities that advanced the case against Ilhan Selçuk are in grave error and show embarrassing ignorance. They and their destructive ilk have compiled a wanton document, indeed one that insults every Turkish schoolchild. Consider their astonishing solution to a systemic water insufficiency, that is, to emit prayers for rain during Friday Prayers (namaz) with their pious hands extended, fingers point downward...DOWNWARD! As if Allah is so ill-informed as to not know which direction rain falls. Gentlemen! Are the Turkish people ignorant tribesmen? Have you so debased them since I left?
CHARGE 2. That religion is the biggest obstacle in front of enlightenment.
Gentlemen of the court, thus has it ever been, and thus religion remains a danger to governance in the temporal world. At the risk of being redundant, as I said above, “we derive our inspiration directly from life.” That means practical solutions to affairs of this world do not come from the beyond, but from the flesh and blood and brains of real people.
As I said in 1908 in Salonika when I was a young officer, so I repeat today:
“The day will come when I will succeed in all the revolutionary changes I thought were dreams. The nation to whom I belong will believe in me. The Sultanate must be brought to an end. Religion and the state must be separated. We must remove ourselves from our oriental image and move towards western civilization. We must form a new social system by wiping out the differences between men and women. We must replace the alphabet that prevents us from entering western civilization with a Latin-based one. We must conform with the Westerners in everything, even our clothes.” (15)
Turkey today must move toward what it had already achieved. Gentlemen, time is of the essence to do so!
Gentlemen of the court: you have so defamed the country. You have reaped a whirlwind with your disastrous proceedings. So disastrous that I am forced to reiterate the words from my ten-day speech:
“Could a civilized nation tolerate a mass of people who let themselves be led by the nose by a herd of Şehys, Dedes, Seyyits, Çelebis, Babas and Emirs; who entrusted their destiny and their lives to palmreaders, magicians, dice-throwers and amulet sellers? Ought one to preserve in the Turkish State, in the Turkish Republic, elements and institutions such as those which had for centuries given the nation the appearance of being other than what it really was? Would one not therewith have committed the greatest, most irreparable error to the cause of progress and reawakening?” (16)
Gentlemen! Are you paying attention to me?
CHARGE 3. That In order for a woman to be free her haIr should be blowIng in the wind.
Gentlemen, I read the above incredibly inane words, not believing that a court could actually consider them as contributing to an indictable offense. That you did so is primafacie evidence of your malevolence regarding women, and indeed toward all modern society.
Moreover, herein we see the failure of the entireTurkish educational system to its very core. Gentlemen! Something must be done! Effendiler! Bir şey yapmalı! For we see the inability of the judicial system to distinguish what is figurative speech, that is metaphor, simile, symbol, allegory, from what is called literal speech. Yet, it seems to understand quite well the political symbolification of squeezing a woman’s head under the veil. The prime minister said as much in Spain last year: What if it is a political symbol? Velev ki siyası simge olur? Yet, the same person, the Grandest of Inquisitors considers it criminal offense that someone associate freedom with a woman’s hair blowing in the wind. When one reads the Koran, and only the Koran, when one only believes literally, that is, word-for-word, there results a mental sclerosis—a hardness. There is a lack of mental resilience that prevents subtle thinking, or insight, and, yes, even humor. For “one-book” people nothing has meaning save the “word” itself. Such is the case when one lives and thinks exclusively in religious terms. Of course, it is no crime to do so. But it has no place in governance or jurisprudence. The complete inability of the court to grasp the metaphoric meaning of allowing women’s hair to blow freely in the wind, or otherwise, is shockingly laughable.
Remember the disaster brought about by George W. Bush and his inane statement that he “doesn’t do nuance.” Gentlemen! The world is nuance! It is known as abstract thought!
But onward to the particularity of the matter at hand. Gentlemen! I have spoken of this often and most of the world has come round to my view regarding how government and society should treat women. In short, such enlightened thinking means that, neither man nor woman should be physically, emotionally, or mentally enslaved by the premeditated imposition of economic, physical, or psychological force. “Man is born free,” wrote Jean-Jacques Rousseau (17). Yet Turkish women remained greater slaves than they. Gentlemen! I had remedied that situation. How dare you allow the religious mongers to unmake our sacred work of revolution.
Gentlemen! Ladies! Please remember my earlier remarks on this subject. I will read and submit them to you for entry into the judicial record of these proceedings
“Let’s be courageous in the matter of women. Let’s forget fear. Let’s adorn their minds with serious knowlege and science. Let’s teach chastity in a healthy scientific way.” (18)
“During my trip I saw, not in villages but especially in towns and cities, our women friends cover their faces and eyes closely and carefully. Male friends, this is in part due to our selfishness, a result of our over-chastity and exactitude. But, dear friends, our women too are intelligent, thinking people like us. Once we make it the basis for our policy to implant in their minds the sacred concept of morality, to acquaint them with our national morality, to illumine their minds with the light of knowledge and cleanliness, we shall see that there is little reason left for being selfish. O let them show their faces to the world. And let them see the world closely through their eyes. There is nothing to fear about that.” (19)
“In some places I see women who cover their heads with a piece of cloth or towel or something like that, thereby hiding their faces, and who turn their back to the men passing by and sit down on the ground, huddling up. What’s the meaning of this attitude? Tell me, gentlemen, would the mother or the daughter of a civilized nation twist herself into this strange posture? This is a sight which makes the nation appear ludicrous. And it demands correction at once.” (20)
“The Turkish woman who wears the veil and lives behind the lattice has passed into history now.” (21)
Finally, it is clear to all who think that this dark-minded charge, in effect a slur against all Turkish women, reveals the depth of man’s cowardice. So-called politicians who hide behind the heads, and headscarves, of women to promote their own program of ignorance and hopelessness should be condemned in the global courts of human rights. Gentlemen! Let freedom begin, AGAIN, here, in Turkey.
CHARGE 4. That evolutIon theory is a realIty which is proven scIentIfIcally.
Poor Ilhan Selçuk, to be defamed, arrested, and now tried on this particular charge rivals the worst ignorances of the Dark Ages. Gentlemen! Even the Catholic Church, long opposed to Darwin’s theories since they contradict the literal interpretation in the Bible, has changed its mind. The Church of England has even issued an apology on the matter. But Turkey, whose ruling power’s mentality is stuck somewhere between the paleozoic and mesozoic eras, chooses to bring that matter to a courtroom. There can be no greater demonstration of the dark-minded ignorance of the ruling party than the drafting of this charge.
My words on the matter pale in significance compared to the distinguished scientific and philosophical minds who have studied and spoken on this issue. Apparently the ruling party has not heard of them either. So let them hear from me, perhaps for the first time on the matter. And if their common sense cannot be persuaded, perhaps they will show the inclination or ability to read deeper than the holy books on this issue. If not, let the world condemn them to their own private oblivion.
I hesitate to speak about such obvious truisms. But, given the nature of this audience, I must. If you don't remember my earlier words on this matter, remember them now. And read more deeply.
“Man ascended from creatures which swarmed and romped about in water to emerge in his present form. It took millions and millions of generations for man to achieve his present high level of intelligence, intellect and capability. Man now looks upon the fate of his own species with an ever growing and assertive consciousness.” (22)
“There is no problem which intelligence and logic cannot solve. Knowledge and science are the guides to the intellect. By continually penetrating the secrets of nature, the human intellect has evolved and established sciences which encourage those who are striving to reach the truth and which shed light on the history of mankind. Science has revealed to man the secrets of the grandeur of human society.” (23)
After explaining only four charges against İlhan Selçuk, it is clear what the Turkish Republic is confronting. The dark powers of ignorance have ransacked the land and religious mongering runs amok. In closing this session, I reiterate with even more passion than when I spoke these very same words in 1927. The threat is clear. The danger is present. Now it’s called Ergenekon, but its real name has always been Darkness.
Gentlemen! Listen! Then ponder these words:
“Could it be expected that prudent, reasonable people and patriots would be content with remaining spectators of the stupid, inexperienced, and disgraceful proceedings of a gang of obstinate men, among whom were traitors and others devoid of feeling and conscience, who had tried to stifle an outburst of indignation on the part of the nation?” (24)
I expect that the court will do its legal duty. This case deserves no further consideration or discussion. I move that all these embarrassingly specious charges be vacated and that the man you so demean by call him a "suspect" be immediately released. I also trust that the Turkish youth will continue to do its duty. —Court stands in recess, FOREVER!
Cem Ryan, Ph.D. Istanbul, Turkey 26 January 2009
(1) “At that time writers of fiction in Istanbul described me as being a common mutineer and a bandit.” Atatürk, Mustafa Kemal. The Great Speech, Atatürk Research Center, Ankara, 2005, 188.
(2) “On arrival at Amasya, we heard that the Entente Liberals, together with some foreigners, were carrying on intrigues which practically amounted to treason.” Ibid., p. 205. Note: “The ‘Entente Liberal’ party and the unions of ‘Nigehban’ and the ‘Friends of England’ formed one party. They continued, with the help of individuals like Ali Kemal and Sait Molla, to incite the non-Muslim elements against the national forces.” Ibid., p. 213. According to Mustafa Kemal the above groups also “were working in conjunction with the Christian elements.” Ibid., 216. Note also his view that: “The secret unions in Istanbul and some of their leaders all relied on foreigners.” Ibid., 242.
(3) See comment of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk about these sects in The Great Speech, 714.
(4) “An end should be put to the activity of the Societies and the injurious publications in the pay of foreign countries.” Ibid., 204.
(5) Reverend Robert Frew: “...a clergyman named Frew.” Ibid., p.5, 28, 243, 251-253. Particularly note in Atatürk’s letter to Frew: “I would like to note one point which is exceptionally remarkable. You call yourself a servant of God. May I ask whether the zeal which you display in mingling yourself in political intrigues and in taking active part in questions that can easily lead to bloody conflicts and vain bloodshed is compatible with your spiritual duties!” Ibid., 252-3.
(6) “The Kurds have joined the Turks.” Ibid., 15.
(7) “some French officers...accompanied by some Jesuits,” Ibid., 59.
(9) Amicus Curiae: Latin for “friend of the court.” This term describes a person or organization that is not a party to a lawsuit as plaintiff or defendant but that has a strong interest in the case and wants to be heard.
(10) The Great Speech, 90.
(11) 24 September 1924 remarks: Mango, Andrew. Atatürk. Overlook Press, New York, 1999, 412.
(12) Mango. Op cit., 516. and Atatürk, Mustafa Kemal. Atatürk’ün Söylev ve Demeçleri, I, Ankara, 1989, 433.
(13) Mango, op cit. 527-528 and Kocatürk, Utkan. Atatürk’ün Fikir ve Düşünceleri, Ankara, 1961, 162.
(14) Kocatürk, Utkan. Op cit., 877. and A Handbook of Kemalist Thought, Atatürk Research Center, Ankara, 2001, 271.
(15) Borak, Sadi. Bilinmeyen Yönleriyle Atatürk, Istanbul, 22. and A Handbook of Kemalist Thought, 21.
(16) Atatük, The Great Speech, 714.
(17) Rousseau, The Social Contract. Everyman, London, 1973, 181.
(18) Mango, Op cit. 176.
(19) Doğramacı, Emel. Atatürk and the Türkish Woman Today, Atatürk Araştırma Merkesi, Ankara, 1991, p.29
(20) Milliyet newspaper, Dec. 3, 1929.
(21) Doğramacı, op. cit., p 33.
(22) Inan, Afet. Atatürk Hakında Hatıralar ve Belgeler p 277. and Tüfekçi, Gurbuz D. Universality of Atatürk’s Philosophy, Pan Matbaacilik, Ankara, 1981, p.10.
(23) Inan, Afet. Op cit., 280, 242., Inan, Afet. Medeni Bilgiler, p 71 and Tüfekçi, Gurbuz D. Universality of Atatürk’s Philosophy, Pan Matbaacilik, Ankara, 1981