Turkey: The Brilliant Societal Values in Our Genetics

In this article, I will be trying to show the reader the truth about the claims of “good Turkish values” in the light of a study by Prof. Yılmaz Esmer, Turkey Values Atlas, 2012. I will also partly include some other research and make some comments at the end. I actually wrote the Turkish version of this article last year, as a response for some politicians’ claims that some ugly things like racism, discrimination, etc. do not have a place in the genetics of this “beautiful” society. However, this is not a direct translation, but it is close enough.

The following “values” apparently do not exist in Turkey’s traditions, culture or genetics:

“Trusting people.”

The percentages of the participants who state “most people can be trusted” in some European countries. In Turkey, this percentage is 12.

“Supporting the idea that women are not the property of their husbands.”

The percentage of “women” who agree with the statement “women should always obey their husbands, and not second-guess their word.”

“Supporting the idea that all humans should be equal regardless of their nationality/ethnicity.”

The percentage of participants who are “extremely proud of being Turkish.”

The values above (in quotations) are the ones that do not exist in our “beautiful society”, and are not acceptable for our “decent traditions”. Let us visit some other research and sources.

Such research is conducted fairly often. Here is an excerpt from one by the Sabancı Foundation.

It is against our values to coexist and not have prejudices against other people.

The question above in English translates to “Who would you not want as your neighbour?” The % who replied: Atheist family, 57%; A Jewish family consisting of Turkish citizens, 42%; A Christian family consisting of Turkish citizens, 35%; An immigrant foreign family, 18%; A Muslim family from a different sect of Islam, 13%.

When asked as “Jewish”, instead of “Jewish family consisting of Turkish citizens”, the percentage of participants who would not want such a family as neighbours becomes a little less than 70%. This is a great example to show that being open minded and without prejudice is not among the values of our society: 90% of the participants have “never” met, even one Jewish person. Another “number” shows that equality and public awareness are also against our societal values: the percentage of people who do not want disabled persons as their neighbours is 70%. This is huge…

If we go back to the previous study, 71% of “women”, yes, women think that the man should be the leader of the family. 59% state that “women should always obey their husbands, and not second-guess their word”. Women are actually supporting this. You would not even want to learn about the opinions of men. This percentage is 40% for the most promising part of the country, the province of İzmir, and 71% for the least, Eastern Anatolia Region. Our cities that seem like the most pro-gender-equality places are “not that pro”-gender-equality. According to the Gender Equality Index by Inglehart and Norris (as stated by the study), Turkey is in the 48th place among 60 countries. Among the people who are university graduates, the percentage of the opinion “women should always obey their husbands” is 59. The ratio of participants who think “university education is more important for male students, rather than female students” is 33%.

I will go on now. The ratio that says “if there is unemployment in the country, men should have the privilege to be hired”: 60%. This can be compared to the percentages in come European countries, as our politicians usually argue that Europe is in the brink of collapse, and there are many ugly values they hold, but we do not. Denmark: 2%, Finland and Sweden: 3%. This is not a calculation mistake, these percentages are “actually”, really 60, 2, and 3.

Agreeing the statement “a pre-school child would be negatively affected if his/her mother is working”: 80%. Again, a comparison with the same region: Denmark: 9%, Sweden and Norway: 20%.

A last example from “the Atlas”; agreeing the statement “men make better politicians than women”:

66% in the year 1990,

62, 62, and 71% in the years 2000, 2006, 2011 respectively.

But wait, there is more. The Global Gender Gap Report, taking into account the 135 countries where about 90% of the world population lives, presents a set of statistics. In the general ranking, Turkey is in the 124th place among these 135 countries. Below Turkey are countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, etc.

According to the data of the World Economic Forum 2010, we are şb the 125th place among 134 countries in the general rankings, thanks to our developing, brilliant economy. The ranking is the same for gender equality.  Turkey is also in the 31th place among 35 countries investigated under the Rule of Law Index.

Yes, there is even more. There are many other examples and statistics we could provide here, all showing that our country is doing worse every single day. This suggests that necessary precautions and steps are not taken for these issues, and probably they never will be. So, providing the reader with other examples will not be doing the best, if the examples above do not seem important enough.

I do not agree with our politicians, public figures or some of our journalists on the idea that “we should be proud of the values in our society’s genetics”. Seeing all the things I mentioned above in person, everywhere I turn my head, I think they are not values to be proud of. They are societal values to be ashamed, and even afraid of. It seems meaningless to me to try to defend such a tradition and culture. We should instead be trying to fix it.

I would like to share my last comments on this issue.

I think there is an issue of illusion about values here. Some cute, humane and beautiful “values” most Turkish citizens argue that exist in the society do not exist. Some values that are thought of as cute, humane and beautiful values by most Turkish citizens are either “not that cute, humane or beautiful”, or plain terrible and potentially dangerous. Some other “ugly” values such as racism, sexism, religious discrimination, etc. that do not exist in our society according to many Turkish citizens, actually exist heavily, deeply everywhere around us. We MUST accept these facts as outlined by pages and pages of research and try to fix our society, instead of living in an illusion that we do not need fixing. A broken society where most people think that everything is going alright cannot ever be better than a broken society where most people think that not everything is going alright. In the latter, people would at least have a grasp of what actually is going on, and everyone would have the chance to contribute in fixing what is broken.

5 thoughts on “Turkey: The Brilliant Societal Values in Our Genetics”

  1. There is nothing wrong with Turkish culture, but with the combination of muslim culture to Turkish culture made it this way. I always admire turkic cultures, its colorfull and tastey. But we r forgetting it. So the problem is not the. “Turkish” culture.

  2. It’s really cute that you think so. Thanks for trying to support my culture, but I don’t buy it. My “ethnic” or “collective” culture, in my opinion, is terrible. It doesn’t need support or promotion. It needs fixing. The first step of fixing a problem is to accept that there is a problem. I agree that most problems come from Islam introduced upon Turkish culture, but Turkish culture isn’t “that great” either. If Turkish culture were great, we wouldn’t be so open to bad influence. Most problems come from islamic culture combined with Turkish culture, but what this actually means is not that “Turkish culture is perfect if we think of it as an independent (of islam) culture”, but that both cultures contribute to disaster.

    There is nothing to suggest that, for example, hate against disabled citizens comes exclusively from Islam, but not Turkish values. The patriarchal values and neighbourhood pressure are also inherent in Turkish history. We just can’t let people be, we just can’t leave people alone.

  3. This article doesn’t even make sense notedly considering the answer you gave to FK. FK probably meant Turkic culture (which is the culture of the people living in Central Asia, East Siberia and Far East of Russia and etc.) isn’t what you make it out to be. Turkey, basically, is a place where people from different ethnicites agreed to “protect and promote the moral, spiritual, cultural and humanistic values of the Turkish nation.” This is what Atatûrk has said not me. I think you ignore the most important question which is “What it means to be a Turk?” I don’t know where you got those surveys about women and religions but I don’t think they demonstrate the reality. Think about it this way, if I went to India, Russia or China and made a survey about food, how close my results can get to reality? In multiethnic societies it’s usually harder to make conclusion about social values because the answers will change drastically between (any chosen) two cities. So, you can’t have a public opinion if your country consists of Armenians, Greeks, Slavs, Kurds, people from Caucasian, Arabs, Assyrians, Albanians, Persians, local Anatolians and many others. I’m sorry about my comment if you have advanced your research about Turkish culture and rewrite them. I haven’t read other articles in your blog. I was reading researchs on Anatolian genetics and I came across your blog on google. I thought your article may need some corrections. i.e. you can add the effect of Turkification in the social values in your country. For example, did you know “various scholars believe that at least 2 million Turks have at least one Armenian grandpa?” This claim was made by Alexis Demirdjian in his book The Armenian Genocide Legacy. There are trustable articles about these issues on discovermagazine and you can read them if you want.
    Your politicians keep telling you to like your country and culture because that’s the only thing which is keeping you together. If it wasn’t for the forced changes made in language and culture, your country wouldn’t even exist right now. Start appreciating it instead of swearing at it. There is nothing you can do to change the ethnic problems in your country so you must stay together. And lastly, please avoid using unnecessary quotation marks in your writings.

    1. I’m also sorry for my lack of sense in English language. I can choose wrong words because English isn’t my first language and I use at least three languages at the same time. As a result, I’m not comfortable in any of them

      1. There is no need to be sorry.

        Your longer comment has almost nothing to do with what I wrote. If you don’t know where I got these “surveys”, I provided references in the text. It takes literally less than a second to search those things in Google.

        Opinion polls are more realistic than inferences and comments on statistics. If you looked at the polls (to which I provided references in text), you’d see that it doesn’t matter whether or not the country consists entirely of Turks. If 60% of the participants said “x”, it practically means some rate very close to 60% of the entire population would say “x”, that is, if we asked the entire population of 80 million.

        There are about 50K Armenians and 20K Jews in Turkey (in 80M total), which shouldn’t significantly skew the representativeness of the study. Besides, I’m sure they didn’t go to a Kurdish city and deliberately interview ethnic Turks. These details make almost no sense in what I outlined above.

        I am a social scientist. So, unless you are paying me, you have no right to dictate what I should be writing about. And even if you were paying me, I couldn’t interpret my findings based on your preconceptions. This is just not how THIS works.

        “various scholars believe that at least 2 million Turks have at least one Armenian grandpa?”

        what does this even mean? What does it have to do with the findings that “approx.-X% of population in Turkey say Y”?

        “There is nothing you can do to change the ethnic problems in your country so you must stay together.”

        Seriously? So, we can’t officially recognise language rights of Kurds, Lazs, Circassians, etc.? So, we can’t stop arresting parliamentary representatives of certain communities? So, we can’t preach peace, tolerance and love among different people?

        Staying together at all costs doesn’t solve anything. Criticism, scrutiny, research do.

        “Your politicians keep telling you to like your country and culture because that’s the only thing which is keeping you together. If it wasn’t for the forced changes made in language and culture, your country wouldn’t even exist right now. Start appreciating it instead of swearing at it.”

        Wowwwww, stop right there. Now you are telling me what feelings I SHOULD hold for my own country. If there are problems about a culture, a country, or any place, those problems can’t be solved simply by doing anything politicians say and loving the place unconditionally. Problems are solved by uncovering them and looking for solutions. If, say, half of my country hates me, I can’t solve this problem by simply loving the country. I have a personal obligation to state the problem and/or try to reach an outcome where half of my country doesn’t hate me.

        You ideas on living together are twisted and sick.

        In summary, please go fuck yourself before you tell any person what they should be writing about, unless the content specifically requires that addition. Moreover, please go fuck yourself before suggesting that “people who are writing about the problems that affect them on so many levels should instead shut up and appreciate what they already have, even if what they have is shit.”

        You don’t have to like or be interested in what I write. If you are looking for a decent discussion anyway, I think I, the creator of this post, deserve an “I looked at the references you provided and…” instead of an “I don’t know where you found those polls but…”.

        You may be right about quotation marks (been so long since I wrote this, and I can’t be bothered to check for you right now).

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