Friday, August 1, 2008

Fareed Zakaria is wrong on Turkey

Fareed Zakaria and I are good friends.. ideologically. I love his book, The Post-American World, which you can (and should) purchase - from Amazon dot com for a heavily discounted price (40% off). As I was saying, he is one of the few political minds that appears on TV that actually makes sense most of the time and uses facts to justify his point, something sorely missed from most other commentators and pundits.

However.. he is just plain wrong about Turkey. Every time he gets the chance to talk about Turkey he does.. and he keeps complimenting them and showering them with his praises. I find all these adulation misplaced.

In his most recent talk on this subject he touts the Turkish Supreme Court ruling that disallows the banning of the ruling party based on their adherence to a religion. (Which I agree is good) Then he goes on about how all the Middle East could really "learn" from the "only Islamic liberal democracy." This is where he is exactly wrong.

Turkey, like France, are too secular to be democracies. Let me explain, just like Christianity or Islam can affect a democracy, state or society so can ultra-secularism. The cult of ultra-secularism treats religion not as an integral part of people's lives but as a threat to liberty. Now, there are some religious types who see the same of secularism but in a true democracy all people must be protected from both. Both the religious and secular wish to influence others with their way of seeing the world and it is the role of a true liberal democracy (of which Zakaria refers) to allow both options to exist and not threaten the other. Neither side should over-power the other without the protections of the State and both view-points should exist within the marketplace of ideologies that exist within these liberal States.

Therefore, it should not be the place of the governments of France or Turkey to allow or disallow any amount of religiosity on the part of an individual or group either by overt or covert means. There is nothing that is inherently anti-French or anti-Turkish in wearing a scarf, yarmulke, or cross. Both countries especially Turkey are guilty of betraying their pledges to liberalism when they take secularism to an extreme where it infringes on the liberties of people to express their beliefs. This is a problem in the Western World that is continuing to create problems as immigration and the free flow of information change the structure and nature of societies throughout the world. Just as Religious Terrorists throughout the world strike out against secular targets, so does the ultra-secularists strike against any overt sign of religion.

Fareed Zakaria, my friend, now is the most important time for liberal democracies to exist in their truest form so that they may be a model of tolerance and peace between parties in the face of extremism and totalism.

Strong Moderate

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The Post-American World - Fareed Zakaria --

Zakaria: Islamic world should learn from Turkey court ruling --

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