Turkey & Demography

by Richard Brookhiser

A meme now running about would have us understand the direction of modern Turkey as the triumph of Islamo-Anatolians vs. Euro-Attaturkians. As with all demographic explanations, it has the pleasing heft of simplicity, as well as simplicity’s limitations. The Turks I know best come from Eregli, a central-southern town, north of the Taurus Mountains, that has not been part of anything describable as the west since the battle of Manzikert (1071). My best friend among them, who is pushing sixty, remembers that in his youth, there were wolves in Eregli–and all the girls wore miniskirts. Turkish secularism had some kick as late as that, even there. Culture is a fact, not a fate; our fate is what we make of our facts.

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