|Friday, 4. June 2010 3 comment(s)||
Adversaries of Turkey’s EU membership are on a constant lookout for better arguments against Turkey joining the EU. After all, we have all heard the usual: Turkey is supposedly non-European, non-Western, too big, too poor and too Islamic. And despite all this, there are still many who continue to support Turkey’s accession. Well, there is finally good news for the tireless campaigners against Turkey’s EU bid. Charlemagne, columnist for the Economist, writes in his blog that the sight of Turkish demonstrators in the streets of Ankara and Istanbul, protesting against Israel killing activists aboard the Gaza flotilla and chanting "death to Israel" and "God is Great", will be the final nail in Turkey’s EU coffin for many Europeans. The tide will turn with Europeans gasping in unison: “Whoa, that really does not look like a European country.”
Reading Charlemagne’s piece, I am not sure whether to be more baffled by his ostensibly low regard for the intellectual capacity of the average European or by his hints of Europe bearing the brunt of Turks’ protests should it reject Turkey from the EU. While the latter is downright scaremongering, the former shows that for many democracy still parallels closely with ochlocracy.
But most importantly, while it is true that the cumulative impact of images and television footage on public opinion can be considerable, with our own protesters in the streets of Athens, Paris or London providing us with a constant flow of images saturated with both verbal and physical violence, it is hard to see the average EU citizen choking on his morning coffee by the sight of an angry Turk taking to the streets. And when it comes to judging a country’s civilized credentials by the behaviour of its demonstrators, this is taking it a bit too far. Protests are no tea parties and there are always a few who cross the line of reasonable behaviour. Those few are hardly a representation of a whole nation, which even Charlemagne admits: “It is risky to judge a country from a demonstration involving a few thousand people”.
It is often not visual but mental images that have the most powerful impact on our understanding of the world around us. And those mental images are often delivered to us in writing that claims impartiality. Edward Said, the author of Orientalism, would have a lot to say about this.
Texts reflect the opinions of the individual authors