Turkish Professors, Cuban Cigars…REALLY???

~ A while back I submitted a paper to a political conference to be hosted at a college in Washington, D.C. and in a total sheer lack of insight, the conference committee selected my paper and I was asked to lecture at the conference.

Hanging out in D.C. these days it is difficult to navigate to the hostility of politics. All the Republicans (minus two or three) and all of the Democrats hate the president. By hate, I don’t mean your everyday garden variety of hate, like, “Boy I really hate bubble gum pop music like Brittany Spears”, I mean, “Boy, I really hate spiders, I’m gonna kill every spider I see”

The Republicans and Democrats have thrown everything at the President for the past few years and their hate is still so intense, that for someone who tends to be very chill (think coffeehouse chill), speaking at a political conference is a bit of a scary undertaking as I don’t want to offend these people who seethe with hate day and night, after all, publicly I try not to take political sides; perhaps my heart is made out of Swiss.

All in all, the conference ended up going really well, and while all the American speakers were at each other’s throats the entire weekend; at one point a professor of political science got into a heated exchange with two professors of political philosophy and i thought the police were going to have to be called, thankfully, everyone calmed down, though the three professors stewed at each other the rest of the day.

Since most of the American professors were your typical arrogant ‘We know everything about everything, we are the Demigods of America”, I ended up making some really good friends with the delegation from Turkey that included numerous professors and dignitaries, and they were kind enough to invite me out to dinner later that day and we spent the evening smoking Cuban cigars discussing the Ottoman Empire and modern political theory in light of the changes that occurred in the 20th century.

A younger married couple, both professors, who were on loan to a University here in the States from Turkey were especially nice, and they talked at great length, sharing with me their concerns with what is going on Turkey. According to them, their country long celebrated a type of secularism that allowed people of different faiths to more or less live unabated alongside each other, with a minor degree of tension below the surface.

“Unfortunately, Erdogan has aligned himself with extremist forces, and those among us in the intellectual circles feel a lot of heat for not bowing to their Islamic religious pressure” said the husband. His wife doesn’t wear a hajib, neither are they very Muslim at all, “between you and I Kenneth, we are agnostic” she said.

They have been grateful to be out of their country for the time being, as the religious freedom in America has enabled them to feel much more at peace in their daily lives, “Sadly, we’re going to have to back at some point, and if Erdogan isn’t taken out of power, people like us will likely end up being political refugees as we will have to leave or escape to preserve our sanity”.

Religion is often an enemy of liberalism. I don’t mean the type of liberalism that is used in modern political debates as in conservativism vs liberalism, I mean the type of classical liberalism that used to be associated with freedom of speech. When the United States and the Allies defeated Germany in WWI, the newspapers around the country rang out “Liberalism defeats fascism”. Thus, it was only a hundred years ago that liberalism used to mean freedom of speech, and freedom of the individual.

Now, religiosity tends to be suppressing freedom of speech in Turkey; the professors confided in me their fear of speaking publicly against Erdogan for fear of retribution.  When I speak at college campuses in North America, while I don’t have the same type of fear (I’m not afraid of a ruthless religious dictator like Erdogan killing or imprisoning me), I am aware of the religiosity of modern college campuses. If you disagree with the religion of the professors and academic boards, it is likely you won’t be asked back to the college or the conference. If you disagree or merely question anything related to the current religion that our college campuses practice; you might be blackballed for life.

Speaking at numerous college campuses throughout North America, it concerns me that the religion that dominates our academic community has begun to treat dissenters just as Erodogan has treated liberals in Turkey.

Liberalism in America seems to have spun into a new religion; the religion of religion of leftistism; there are no conservatives on college campuses, and if there are, they stay silent for fear of being singled out and discriminated against.  The leftist religion believes in a cataclysmic apocalypse narrative, it claims a stranglehold on morality, and they believe their religion to be entirely perfect and free of error.

There are a lot of serious things going on in the world, but since American’s are so fixated with the ongoing saga of Washington D.C., too often we are blind to what is really going on in the world.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,



Categories: Culture & Society, Religion

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