In May, a ship full of civilians — but not full of humanitarian aid — sailed from Turkey to join the Free Gaza flotilla. Having warned the Mavi Marmara that it would not be allowed to breach the blockade, Israeli commandos raided the ship. In the clash, nine Turks were killed. I've lived in Istanbul for five years and I've spoken to hundreds of Turks about these events. A Turkish documentary filmmaker and I have filmed some of these conversations. Something will immediately strike the viewer: the Turkish people have no idea what happened. This is because the most basic facts about and surrounding these events have not been reported in Turkey.
World Affairs Journal
As the First General Law of Travel tells us, every nation is its stereotype. Americans are indeed fat and overbearing, Mexicans lazy and pilfering, Germans disciplined and perverted. The Turks, as everyone knows, are insane and deceitful. I say this affectionately. I live in Turkey. On good days, I love Turkey. But I have long since learned that its people are apt to go berserk on you for no reason whatsoever, and you just can’t trust a word they say. As one Turkish friend put it (a man who has spent many years in America, and thus grasps the depth of the cultural chasm), “It’s not that they’re bad. They don’t even know they’re lying.”
I moved here five years ago. In the beginning, I was sympathetic to the argument that Turkey’s ban on headscarves in universities and public institutions was grossly discriminatory. I spoke to many women who described veiling themselves as an uncoerced act of faith. One businesswoman in her mid-30s told me that she began veiling in high school, defying her secular family. Her schoolteacher gasped when she saw her: “If Atatürk could see you now, he would weep!” Her pain at the memory of the opprobrium she had suffered was clearly real.
A trip to the headquarters of the extremist group that sponsored the Mavi Marmara.
The street outside the IHH, the Turkish organization that recently dispatched the Mavi Marmara to its sanguinary fate in the eastern Mediterranean, suggests a hopeful world of multi-ethnic and religious harmony. Men and women in various forms of secular and religious dress—beards, clean-shaven, headscarves, burqas—walk in and out of the building in urgent conversation with Africans in dashikis, Swedes in stained proletarian-wear, anti-Zionist rabbis sweating nervously in black suits and payot. A gangly teenager strolls by in a T-shirt that reads, “Virgins required: No experience necessary.” It isn’t clear whether he’s off-message, highly ironic, or yet another Turkish kid who bought a T-shirt he didn’t quite understand.
Both attractive women from Nowhere Fancy exploited their femininity. But only one could command an interview.
Visiting Margaret Thatcher is a traditional rite among Republican presidential aspirants – Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney all pitched up on her doorstep in 2008. But Sarah Palin, who announced on her Facebook site this week that she hopes to secure a meeting with "one of my political heroines, the 'Iron Lady'," has a more obvious claim to be Thatcher's heir. She's an attractive woman from Nowhere Fancy, just as Thatcher was, and snobs deplore her for it, just as they deplored Thatcher.
That said, if Palin hopes to style herself as the second coming she has a few things to learn.
What we don’t know about the Mavi Marmara incident: just about everything.
3 June 2010
A response to Ron Radosh, et al.
In the latest issue of City Journal, I published a story about a large cache of Soviet-era documents smuggled out of Russia by Pavel Stroilov, a Russian researcher now exiled in London, and a similar collection of smuggled documents held by the former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky. I wrote that the world was incurious about these papers; this, I argued, was symptomatic of a dangerous indifference to the history and horrors of Communism.
Why doesn’t anyone care about the unread Soviet archives?
In the world’s collective consciousness, the word “Nazi” is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazis’ ideology—nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the Führer principle—led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.
Recently, a Turkish museum's staff discovered that a large number of famous Ottoman-era drawings from their collection were forgeries, the originals probably stolen years ago. Claire Berlinski finds that the theft of valuable artworks across the world is more common than many think.
AMERICAN REVIEW, 2010
Going Rogue: An American Life
The poetry of Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell noted, is always good for a snigger in pansy-left circles. So are the writings of Sarah Palin. The former governor of Alaska, former vice-presidential candidate and great populist hope of the American right tends to inspire derision that is manifestly patronizing and misogynistic. Such is often the fate of charismatic female politicians from small towns, as Margaret Thatcher well knew.