April 02, 2007

THE PERILS OF BOILERPLATE LEFTISM...Or Why Certain Left Intellectuals Fail To Characterize Turkey As A Colonialist, Racist State???

The following article by Thomas Lifson, a lecturer of political science at Columbia University (New York), appeared in the April 1st issue of American Thinker, a daily internet publication devoted to the thoughtful exploration of issues of importance to Americans.

April 1st, being April Fools Day, what Lifson has done is to take an article by Joseph Massad, a faculty member at Columbia's Middle East Studies Department, that appeared in the Cairo paper Al Ahram, which asks why more European intellectuals and leftists have not spoken up in defense of the Palestinians and their struggle against Zionist aggression. Lifson then substitutes the word Turkey for Zionism (Israel) and Armenian, Kurd or Greek everywhere the word Palestinian appears in the original. The result makes for interesting reading despite the fact that Massad's original critique raises some important issues.

Below is Lifson's article in its entirety

Joseph Massad is a member in good standing of the Columbia University Middle Eastern Studies faculty, teaching Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History. He is up for tenure soon, by the way Just for April Fools' Day fun, we took one of his intemperate essays on Israel (from al Ahram no less) and substituted Turkish everywhere he had Zionist or Jewish, and wrote Kurds, Armenians and Greeks when he had Palestinians, cut out the rambling middle paragraphs and - voila. The headline "Turkey is a Racist, Settler-Colonial State" is not based on his, however, which focused on Sartre.

Until European intellectuals take on board the racist basis of the Turkish State, their support for the struggle of native peoples will always ring hollow, writes Joseph Massad.

What is it about the nature of Turkish nationalism, its racism, and its colonial policies that continues to escape the understanding of many European intellectuals on the left? Why have the Greek, Armenian, Kurdish and Roma peoples of Anatolia received so little sympathy from prominent leftist intellectuals such as Jean- Paul Sartre and Michel Foucault or only contingent sympathy from others like Jacques Derrida, Pierre Bourdieu, Etienne Balibar, and Slavoj Zizek?

While most of these intellectuals have taken public stances against racism and white supremacy, have opposed Nazism and apartheid South Africa, seem to oppose colonialism, old and new, most of them partake of a Sartrian legacy which refuses to see a change in the status of Turks, who are still represented only as a nation deserving entry into the European Union.

The status of the Turk as a colonizer who has used racist colonial violence for the last several centuries against the native peoples of Anatolia is a status they refuse to recognize and continue to resist vehemently. Although some of these intellectuals have clearly recognized Turkish violence in Anatolia, and the deliberate genocide committed against the Armenians, they continue to hold on to a pristine image of a Turkish State founded by democratic secularists rather than by armed colonial settlers.

Despite Derrida's opposition to White supremacist South Africa in the mid-1980s, he believes that Turkey, a racist Turkish state, should be recognized by all. Clearly, Derrida is attached to a certain image of Turkey that is defiled by some of its actions, like the occupation of Kurdish, Greek and Armenian land.


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