TC or Not TC

It has been a shamefully long time since my last post. My new book, Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks – to my great delight — has been very well received. As a result, I’ve been on the road almost every week giving talks and interviews on top of my usual busy schedule. Now that classes are over, I can breathe a bit and come home to KamilPasha, who I have missed! (Just before heading off on another insane travel jaunt to give talks in Istanbul, Israel, Sweden, then Istanbul again. I promise to blog from the road, internet connectivity permitting.)

One of the interesting tidbits that have been piling up beside my computer:

In early April, the Turkish Republic Health Ministry decided to drop the ‘Turkish Republic’ part of its name that usually appears as “TC” in front of  the names of ministries and their related institutions. Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu explained that adding TC was unnecessary. He noted that if you have a sign that says “Istanbul Umraniye Official Health Hospital”, it makes no sense to add “Turkish Republic” as well.

Having just been in Washington DC, I was imagining “US” on signs all over town: “US Department of State” instead of just “Department of State” as it is now. Or US Environmental Protection Agency, US Congress. Where ELSE would a Washington agency be but in the US. It made me wonder why Turkey has all those “TC’s” on their ministries. In Turkey, TC refers not to the national name, but to the state. TC tells the citizen where the authority lies. Enter here and you will be subject to the authority (and guidance and care) of the state. Removing “TC” makes sense as part of the process of reuniting the state with the nation and citizen that has been ongoing in Turkey over the past two decades.

MPs from MHP and CHP immediately requested an inquiry in parliament. MHP Aydin representative Ali Uzunirmak asked whether this was the beginning of a slippery road that would lead to accusations of racism if a company used the word “Turk” in its name. What was equally interesting was the reaction on social media. According to the Turkish press and eye witness of some of my students, people on a number of social media sites, including Facebook, have changed their image to “TC”. TC came up as the leading name of Turkey’s 9 million social media users.

This is an example of clicktivism, a term I only recently learned (again from my students). Clicktivism means feeling that you are politically active by forwarding something on Facebook or following a social media trend to express support or disapproval (like changing your picture to TC in Turkey– or as in the US recently when 2.7 million people changed their image to a red = to voice support for same sex marriage in a case being heard before the [U.S.!] Supreme Court). There is a debate about whether clicktivism is effective in initiating change, whether its symbolic force has an impact, or whether it’s a lazy way for people to feel they are politically active even though they’re not. Well, the TC social media campaign in Turkey seems to have worked and TC is back on the Health Ministry’s door.

And predictably, in the comments section of one of the Turkish news articles about the elimination of TC, someone vehemently argued that this was a CIA plot. That’s the U.S. CIA.



25 Responses to “TC or Not TC”

  1. Removing “TC” makes sense as part of the process of reuniting the state with the nation and citizen that has been ongoing in Turkey over the past two decades.
    Pop Quiz: State/nation/citizen being ‘united’ is what kind of a notion and what kind of political movements in Europe have pushed this notion in the past? Upper level AKP guys are mostly careful to say ‘devlet milletle barisiyor’ as part of their propaganda. The above goes beyond AKP propaganda, I mean, we even joked about this here:

  2. I agree with Bulent. AKP is increasingly sounding like CHP under Ataturk and Ismet Inonu. Ataturk closed down many associations as he believed that the Turkish nation is one and should be represented by one party. Under Inonu’s leadership until 1946, CHP is associated with the state and the nation. AKP should not repeat mistakes or backward authoritarian practices of Kemalist regime.

  3. Hahaha your version back when we were talking about this was singing a different tune, Anka. IMHO, CHP didn’t have a chance to actually attempt that kind of unity, because it takes a certain set of social and economic conditions, a mass base and grass-roots organization too — can’t be done top down. Anyway, as I said there back then, these things are good to know because a lot of wicked stuff happened in Europe and neither fascism nor [Nazi or Stalinist kind of] totalitarianism is adequately understood here in Turkey [or perhaps elsewhere]. People certainly call each other fascists, or whatever period [including this one] that they dislike ‘totalitarian’ but that just helps make those terms meaningless and concepts harder to understand. A book I read and can recommend (caveat: not a social scientist) is ‘Fascists’ by Michael Mann.
    We do know, though, that Ataturk vetoed some attempts by CHP cadres to copy what they saw in Europe. I’d like to imagine he’d have gone further had he lived. [Note, it wasn't Inonu but Bayar&Menderes who caused image of Ataturk to turn into what it is now.] I’ll give an Atilla Ilhan link for a taste since his ‘secular’ credentials are impeccable but of course this is covered elsewhere too:

  4. Cumhuriyet Daily (22 May 1932). The headline is Kemalist Turkiye’den Fasist Italya’ya Selam (Kemalist Turkey Greets Fascist Italy).

    Another Cumhuriyet headline from Ismet Inonu period emphasizes the warm relations between Fuhrer (Adold Hitler) and Ismet inonu.

  5. Another photo from Turkish Kemalist Mono-Party period that AKP and other parties should not imitate.

    This photo is from 1938 from Dersim (Tunceli). You can see Kemalist Turkish soldiers walking naked women of Dersim which Kemalist claimed to civilize at the time.

  6. Anka ,
    Would you be so kind to share your fair source with us about your beautiful enlighting photo ? :)
    But remember : You should share the ones that CIA does not handle you :)

  7. By the way what is the significance of Kemalist Turkish Soldiers in the photo your highness ?? :) Can you notice any sighn of Turkish Soldier there ?? I guess all the Dersim ladies were having great coufeurs those days eh ? Mr-Mrs brilliant :)))))))))))) It is obvious that anything against Turkish Republic is your possible PLEASURE :)

  8. These are the remains of the Dersim people killed in the caves by the Kemalist regime:

  9. This dark episode of Turkish history has been planned and done by the Kemalist regime, its officials and soldiers (not by CIA, FBI or MOSSAD)

    …the late İhsan Sabri Çağlayangil, a former prime minister, wrote that people who fled into caves were “gassed like rats.”

  10. Anka you must by now know very well that you linked in picture of Nazi atrocities in the Ukraine above and called it “Kemalist Turkish soldiers walking naked women of Dersim.”
    Past nastiness, atrocities or whatever other text/pictures you may want to point out and link to is fine by me tho of course I don’t run this place and I don’t see the point of the endeavor. Forgery isn’t OK by me, nor should it be OK for anyone especially when pictures of the corpses of innocent and unfortunate people are being used for worthless political points by such forgery.
    Kemalist, non-Kemalist, X-ist, Y-ist, Turkish, non-Turkish atrocities and whatnot are not something we can do anything about now, and we probably would have been powerless when they happened. We can, however, control our own behaviour as individuals now. Why not own up to what you did by the fakery you knowingly or unknowingly attempted to pass off? If you look, you’ll see the person who’d originally attempted it is being chided on that mailing list too ([click here]).

  11. I apologize for the wrong photo. I was mistaken by others. It seems Kemalist regime in 1938 did not want to walk people naked. They killed people of Dersim who took refuge in caves right away with gas.

    Yes, we can control our own behavior. While criticizing AKP government’s authoritarian policies, we should not hide the fact that Kemalist regime admired European fascism and killed civilians in the caves with gas.

  12. Hasan bey, we just can’t always see the CIA or any other intelligence service behind such things. I think people are perfectly capable of doing such stuff by themselves. Think of it this way: if you sunk the time into it could you not do what Anka is doing? Would you need secret agency help?
    That said, of course state money, intelligence support etc. is involved in many such things. Think tanks, broadcasting enterprises etc. can also be front organizations for intelligence agencies. Not just the US but many other modern states do this. This is well-known history, and at least the Cold War bits are public information. See here about some Asia scholars talk about this for example:
    Here’s an excerpt:
    This munificent funding created important area programs throughout the country, and provided numerous fellowships that allowed scholars to spend years in the field acquiring difficult languages and other forms of area knowledge. McGeorge Bundy, however, was much closer to the truth in linking the underpinnings of area studies to the intelligence agencies — the OSS, and subsequently the CIA. William Donovan may have directed the wartime OSS and then returned to Wall Street, but he was also in many ways the founder of the CIA.15 In his papers, combed through by the CIA and then deposited at the Army War College, there is a brief account of the original development of “foreign area studies,” in which Donovan, George F. Kennan, and John Paton Davies played the major roles. Davies had a plan to transform area studies and bring enormous amounts of government and foundation funding into U.S. universities through what was originally to be an institute of Slavic studies, but which subsequently became a model for the organization of studies of the communist world of threatened Third World areas.
    Keep in mind that at that point we were very much on the same side as the US, so whatever it is they did over there for Cold War ends may have helped us too.
    Is this all ‘clean’ business? No it isn’t, but this is the world we live in. I’m not talking about our government here, because I know nothing and, as you well know, we’re an advanced democracy with freedom of expression etc.
    So what is one to do as a lay person? Check the work, read defensively, try to think straight, don’t let third party endorsements, heavy advertisement and exposure etc. influence you about whatever it is you read. You should do this anyway. It is far better to do this work, and tell the others about stuff that’s off or questionable than going CIA CIA.

  13. Bulent none of those bones found in a cave in Dersim belongs to your family members. None of your family members was killed by gas of the Kemalist regime. So you can forget how people were massacred by Ataturk’s regime in the PAST, and instead you can praise Ataturk and Kemalism NOW. I am saying that you are right to say AKP is getting fascist but do not forget that the founder of your country, Ataturk, put fascism in practice in the 1938.

    The bones of these people, who were killed in the PAST, are discovered NOW. So NOW it is time to question the person whom we call ATATURK or ULU ONDER (the great leader).


    Look at these bones before you defend Kemalism and what your supreme leader ATATURK did in 1938.

  15. Bulent if this chained man from Dersim was your father or grand father, would you still support Kemalist regime and praise Ataturk?

  16. Anka,
    I am saying that you are right to say AKP is getting fascist but do not forget that the founder of your country, Ataturk, put fascism in practice in the 1938.
    I am not saying AKP is ‘getting fascist’ nor can I confidently say ‘fascism’ happened here in the past. Quite on the contrary, I am saying one ought to be aware of what happened when fascism (and Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism) arose and spread in Europe and that calling people/regimes ‘fascist’ willy nilly hurts any such understanding that people might acquire. Read the place I linked to and what I said above.
    Also note that not AKP people, but Jenny used verbiage to the effect that some kind of union of citizen/nation/state is positive. Main AKP people do not say this, AFAIR. Their base and lower level people might say similar stuff (and worse) of course [and they do, we joked about it here in the place I linked, where, you'll note, I did not call AKP itself fascist or Nazi and argued that one ought not].
    Look, the honeymoon might be over and the inane/baseless praise the AKP was getting may turn into something equally extreme on the other end and they may get accused of stuff they don’t/didn’t do. I didn’t participate in the first phase of this and, if the phase I fear comes to pass, I will not participate in that either.
    Bulent if this chained man from Dersim was your father or grand father, would you still support Kemalist regime and praise Ataturk?
    Did you see me praise the ‘Kemalist regime’ here? I don’t even use the locution as it has become meaningless now if it was ever meaningful. Praising Ataturk is something else, you could praise many of his accomplishments at various times w/o turning him into an idol. Keep in mind that (a) law 5816 exists (b) I predate the coup of ’80 so wasn’t even exposed to what they did to/for the image of Ataturk through the educational system.
    If you are referring to what I linked to above, then yes, we do have some evidence that he understood the danger of consolidating the party with the state and partly tried to stop the cadres within CHP from emulating what they saw in Europe. This is not a conversation I’m necessarily competent to have nor is it one I’m willing to have with someone who uses corpses and bones for effect.
    As for your general argument, I’ll just repeat what I told you and your past versions before, it is not at all ethical to argue by claiming that I took the positions I did not take and claiming that I said things I did not say. Heaven knows, I say a lot of stuff that’s false, objectionable, ridiculous or whatever. It can’t be hard to find them. Why make stuff up?

  17. Bulent, I did not make stuff up. I used an image that I found online and I was mistaken and I admitted my mistake and I apologized.

    Bu it is very very hard for you and some other people to admit the brutal/fascist face of the Kemalist regime founded by a dictator, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

    To you those bones are just EFFECT but in reality those bones = Kemalism and ideas of Ataturk in PRACTICE.

    In Turkey so far only the huge portraits of ATATURK (with blond hair and blue eyes) have been used for effect but know we have photos of BONES from the victims of Ataturk.

    We should get the picture of the past complete while we talk about how bad AKP is.

  18. ANKA,
    You are ” odun kiricinin HIH deyicisin ” simple as that…. :)

  19. the owner’s voice :)))

  20. from now on I will never ever take your comments serious due to the suspects of my mind about your brain’s functions :))))))))))))))))

  21. are you offended when you have seen the bones of the people massacred by Ataturk?

  22. I was NOT the ONE WHO apologised about the WRONG PHOTO eh ? :))))))

  23. Let me show you a confirmed photo. A photo of a person from Dersim whose head cut off by the Kemalist Turkish soldier or the soldiers of your supreme leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Kemalist soldiers smile like you:

  24. Yes, I admitted my mistake and apologized for posting the wrong photo. But, Kemalists still smile when they see heads cut off and bones of people gassed in the caves by the soldiers of their supreme leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

  25. Bulent, I did not make stuff up.
    Excuse me? Will you show me where i said the things you say I did, then? You know very well I wasn’t talking about the pictures.
    Bu it is very very hard for you and some other people to admit the brutal/fascist face of the Kemalist regime founded by a dictator, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
    How do you know any of this about me or anyone? Do you know what, prior to whatever went on here with Erbakan (I wasn’t here), people were talking about? Especially after the coup of ’80 and their tendency to say Ataturk a lot, do you think people just parroted that stuff? Keep in mind that we had a far left here and not all of them were jailed and they’d talk. They didn’t always make sense, but they certainly sounded less nutty then the spreaders of religious gossip about Ataturk who also existed but didn’t talk to outsiders much. Do you think Fikret Baskaya who went to jail for putting things on paper in a book existed in a vacuum and just popped up and decided to get in trouble? Have you seen a Turkey without the law 5816? How about 301 and its variants?
    The thing you complain about, as far as I can see in people I know, is relatively new and this ‘Kemalism’ talk and the widespread use of name/image of Ataturk against RP happened in the ’90s. I don’t mean to imply people hated Ataturk, of course not, but I don’t remember people waving flags with Ataturk pictures like they do today either. (ADD didn’t even exist and is perhaps part of that reaction (founded in 1989).) I’m not even sure such flags existed. Likewise with the resurrection of 10. yil marsi.
    If you read stuff written after AKP happened, you’ll see much of this history in revised from. We have a very weak intelligentsia as far as the visible ones go.
    We should get the picture of the past complete while we talk about how bad AKP is.
    That’s OK by me, let’s change the laws and make it legal to do so. Even 301 hasn’t really been touched and you want people to talk about not this government or that government but the state itself.
    You were giving me grief here last week for pointing out that speech is criminalized here, and that some folks want more criminalization of speech. When I say “let’s change the laws” I say this among a population most of whom think [because they are told so] that speech is criminalized everywhere on earth [the US is used as an example too]. The remainder are the people who vary in their views on what kind of speech they wish to criminalize and but are united in their wish to keep the general attitude of criminal prosecution for speech. Paying lip service to wanting all kinds of liberty is easy and many do so, but I don’t see any attempt to make this concrete.

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