December 09, 2011

from memory lane to the highway of bigotry

My last post was about a memory of mine, and speaking of memories reminded me this stupid news story of ignorance and complete bigotry:

Mina Ungan
There is a book titled "The Memoirs of a Dinosaur" written by Mina Ungan which became a bestseller in Turkey when it was first published in 1998. I remember that the book was around at the time but I don't particularly remember reading it, maybe because I really didn't read it or maybe I couldn't find anything interesting for me. But that's not the point.

The book is actually a autobiography, a book of memoirs, in which Prof. Mina Ungan defines herself as a dinasaur not only because of her old age but also her dedication to communism.

And, a teacher in a high school in Ankara advises this particular book to her students as a very good example of a memoir. However, the school administration decides that this book (which is not in the cirriculum) is not appropriate for the students. They think that this book promotes infidelity, drinking, smoking and bad moral values. So the administration asks for an investigation of the teacher.

An inspector comes.

In defense of her advice, the teacher says that this book is one of the best examples of a memoir in Turkish language because it doesn't only portray the life of the professor but also gives us insights about many important figures of her era.

It turns out that, this man whose job is supposedly to investigate the whole matter in an objective manner had already given his verdict maybe even before he had arrived to the school. And he forces the students to sign a report which blames the teacher for her inconvenient suggestions for the school.

One of the students tries to defend his teacher, saying that this is not the only book she advised. The kid says that the teacher wanted to acknowledge her students about some important books they should know about, and her list also includes the works of Anton Chekhov.

"Do you mean that terrorist whose picture is all over the t-shirts," asks the inspector. And now it is the kid's duty to teach the inspector about Che and Checkov.

"Whatever," says the inspector. "None of them are from our religion and you shouldn't be reading them anyway."  To be fair, these are not his exact words but my interpretation, but you can bet they reflect his exact words.

Thanks God, there are still some parents who refuse to take the highway to the bigotry, so they file the so called inspector for misuse of his office.

You can find the entire story here, in Turkish.


Post a Comment