Kurdistan Bloggers Union Hyphenated Ethnicity - Kurdistan Bloggers Union

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Saturday, December 24, 2005 

Hyphenated Ethnicity

The subject of hyphenated ethnicity is not new to this forum, I know that I have advocated it in the past. Within Turkey the advocation of acceptance of hyphenated ethnicity (a Turkish-Kurd or a Kurdish-Turk for instance) would lead to alot of the unrest being quelled. However that would also have to change a lot of Turkish ultranationalist mindsets in order to happen. Amerikan Turk, which is a blog written by a moderate Turk (yes they DO exist) living in the United States, has a post about this topic. I draw attention to it today because I think that it represents hope as the it shows how the mindset of the average Turk is changing. He also has a rather amusing post about wanting to find a t-shirt that says "I am not a Turk".

This may seem to be an odd post, but I find that at times we all tend to get rather pessimistic about the future (with the exception of the current happening in Southern Kurdistan), and in a little way, this sort of shows that all hope is not lost.

did you read the poem?
I dont think there is any "moderate Turk" including Orhan Pamuk, I might change my mind if I read all his writings, I would not take ONE sentence to represent everything the person believes!

in fact he is nothing but a racist Turk! I dont know what made Dela think so... here it is:

"An ultra-nationalist Turk looks upon Kurds with contempt because they refuse to call themselves Turks in the national sense. They refuse to call themselves Kurdish Turks for the sake of compromise. They insist upon calling themselves Kurds, period. Is it any wonder that this represents a threat?

from here
ONE MAJOR PROBLEM this lad has is he doesnt differentiate between geography and ethnicity or he deny it to Kurds at least!
Turkish-Kurd or Turkish-anything doesnt mean anything but subjugating them as he admits! while African-American, American-Kurd, British Kurd means one who lives on the other land!
I didnt want to say all this but I couldnt hold it, I think this is why we strugle to show it to the world that Turkey is NOT about the beaches and factories in its west! please have another look!

I am about as ignorant as any American when it comes to Orhan Pamuk, but I support his right to speak out about the issues and I am against his imprisonment for same. I don't know if he is moderate or not.

Your hair-trigger instinct to call myself or other Turks racist is a bit offsides. I harbor no ill will towards any nationality, race or religion, and I fully support the complete expressive freedom of "Kurdish-Turks" (ethnicity-nationality).

What I won't accept is when Kurds living in Turkey completely dismiss their nationality. As they say to flag-burners here in the US: "Love it or leave it". I also strongly believe that this dismissal, this chest beating by Kurds represents a threat to national security and to the greater good.

Being one who was born in the US, and one who is still in the process of educating myself on all matters Turkish-Kurdish and Armenian, it hurts that my moderate-ness is called into question by virtue of the views I've set forth using my limited knowledge. I believed I was on the right path and that I was open-minded.

The poem, by the way, is not something I'm proud of. It's written by another, and reached me through a Boston Yahoo group. When I replied with links to the "moderate" posts in my blog, the "moderators" of the message board refused to approve them and called my "Turkishness" into question.

My problem lies here:

"The safest bet for Turkey is to consider all of her citizens to be nothing..other..than..Turks. Nationality trumps ethnicity, for the sake of national security. No single ethnic group can be allowed to feel strong or capable, or worst of all, independent."

The problem is that Kurds have been forced to be Turks since 1923. Nationality crushes ethnicity by force, military force and political force. The problem here is the distinction between nationality and citizenship. Turkish ethnicity was defined and identified with citizenship from the beginning. This was part of the Kemalist ideology, the foundation of which was laid by Ziya Gokalp, who defined ethnicity as the culture that one is raised in and that one feels. I would go so far to say that the idea of ethnicity, for a Kurd, has developed over the decades to become a question of choice, a choice to resist the pressure to assimilate--and thereby lose one's Kurdishness--or to simply give in and become a Turk.

If no single ethnic group can be allowed to feel strong, capable or independent, why has Turkish ethnicity been the only ethnicity permitted any of those things? After all the brutality, then it is considered a crime to desire separation from the same state that has inflicted the brutality? When there existed the de facto independent Kurdish principalities under the Ottomans, there was none of this brutality directed against Kurds, not by Turks, not by Kurds.

To long for an independence in which one is allowed to defend oneself from an unjust aggressor is not an aberration and it is not a crime. It is normal. In fact, insofar as the right to self-defence is inherent to one's existence, self-defence becomes an obligation. If self-defence is best accomplished through separation, then separation also becomes an obligation for the survival of the nation--nation as in the definition: A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language; a nationality.

Under such circumstances as have existed in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, I even have difficulties at times with the description, "Kurdish citizen of Turkey," which is the closest I can come to adjusting myself to the idea of identity and "sub-identity," as Erdogan put it. The idea of "sub-identity" is as unacceptable to me as the implied idea of "super-identity." This dichotomy of citizenship/nationality is where you need to define your terms, Murat, because they are not synonymous.

About flag-burning in the US, a lot of people may not like it, but the right of free expression, as defined in the Bill of Rights and as interpreted by the Supreme Court, extends to flag burning. The Court has properly interpreted the right of free expression to include the freedom to express those things people hate. This is the absolute test of democracy and its commitment to free expression.

"Being one who was born in the US, and one who is still in the process of educating myself on all matters Turkish-Kurdish and Armenian, it hurts that my moderate-ness is called into question by virtue of the views I've set forth using my limited knowledge. I believed I was on the right path and that I was open-minded.

I must apologise for accusing you of "racism". I didn't know this.
In that case, Mizgin has put it quite clearly that the problem is you can NOT compromise occupying somebody's homeland by tellign them to call them selves a sub-ethnic group of another super-class(in java terms!)
welcome to the discussion Murat!

Mizgin, thanks for educating me. I learn something everytime I piss someone off, it seems. I'll need time to react to your generous contribution. Thanks for not throwing me under the bus. I contribute to an Armenian message board where EVERYONE is seething with hatred, no matter what I say or believe...

Hiwa, apology accepted...bygones.

To both of you, I don't consider calling myself Amerikan Turk or vice versa to be a threat to my Turkishness, although marrying a girl from Turkey seemed a good way to avoid the dilution of my ethnicity. (Her name is Ebru and we have a toddler named "Reis Ozan) This is the closest I've ever come to thinking or acting "racist", but to me it's more to do with "resisting assimilation" and the inevitable "loss of Turkishness" as you correctly described.

You are welcome and you have not "pissed me off," Murat. I have been involved with these arguments long enough to realize that a cold, analytical, rational approach to them can be of some service to our cause. Yet this rationalism is fueled by a passion similar to hiwa's, and that is why I understand his reaction. It is something we all experience and if not for this passion, I think neither hiwa nor I would be here.

Calling oneself an "American-Turk," or an American-anything is not the same thing as the question of identity in Turkey because there has not been legislation that defines identity in America. The resistance of assimilation for many Kurds, especially in Turkey, has nothing to do with racism, as our enemies propagandize. It is a question of dignity and honor, as well as survival.

Perhaps hiwa could make a comparison on the question of identity in the UK.

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