Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Islam Does Not Mean Peace

I would like to mention something that is pretty important in understanding Islam and Turkey’s place in the Islamic world. Islam does not mean peace. Its exact meaning is “that which has been pacified” or words to that effect—a critical distinction. Islam is both a social movement and a religion. The closest modern analogy is Communism. As with Communism, lying to unbelievers is seen as enhancing tactical advantage and, as with Communism, violence is necessary to “perform surgery on the body of history” or to convert unbelievers to achieve an idealistic society.


Turkey, Syria and formerly Iraq are/were fascist wedges that divide Islam. In Turkey, the military keeps the Jihadist fringe under control and all Turks know that it is the military and nothing else that keeps Turkey from going the extremist route and preserves their social freedoms. Unfortunately that makes the military and military action (right or wrong) off limits for discussion in Turkey. Writers such as Orhan Pamuk who have challenged the status quo in this regard by pointing to Turkish atrocities agains the Armenians are stubbornly resisted as troublemakers. It is not an issue of truth or falsehood as we understand it but one rather of choosing the lesser of two evils. The Turks have no desire to become like the Iranians.

I felt personally grateful for the vigilance of the Turkish police during my brief visit to Istanbul a few years ago. I walked everywhere without comment upon my person or even a hint of annoyance at my presence. I even attended Catholic mass in Istanbul. If there is any lesson to be learned from Iraq it is that a dictatorship is not without its benefits. We slaughtered and cheated the Indians, for example, out of what are today billions of dollars worth of assets; we do better than admit to it—we simply ignore the issue for the most part. It is an old story. The strong take from the weak and do not look backwards.

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