Posted on 26 January 2009.
By Connor Mendenhall
Turkish class. Students have just learned the abilitative mood. Ä°nce, the instructor, is holding up pictures of common household objects, and students are practicing their grammar by describing what they can and cannot do with them.
Ä°nce: A ball!
Kathy: You can throw it, but you can’t eat it.
Ä°nce: True. What about a pen?
Henning: I can write a letter, but I can’t write an email.
Ä°nce: Good job! A bowl?
Jennifer: You can eat soup, but you can’t eat a sandwich with it.
Ä°nce: A knife?
Connor: I can rinse it in a sink to wash off the blood, but I can never scrub away the human stain.
Ä°nce and class: …
Ä°nce: What about a shoe?
Posted in Asia, Study Ablog
Posted on 01 December 2008.
Friday, I was sitting around stewing about how self-centered people canÂ be. Saturday, the “Black Cats” finally killed the last terrorists inÂ Mumbai, India. Today, the people’s protest against the Thai governmentÂ continues in Bangkok.
The connection here is that I have friends over in those two countries, and IÂ had never thought of them or their safety. It is very lucky that theÂ Kalamazoo College programs are located away from the action, but theseÂ events still affect them. I wonder what Kalamazoo would do if they chose toÂ pull the students out of Thailand only to find that every airport in theÂ country is being suffocated by peaceful protestors. Personally, I wish IÂ had taken my blinders off and thought about my friends sooner.
Collectively, we’ve all watch the world fall into a “Crisis” with aÂ capital “C” because the Stars And Stripes screwed up on sup-primeÂ mortgages, so it’s becoming increasingly obvious that all these countriesÂ are linked together. My example is a specific one, but one could argueÂ that the disruption of the Mumbai trading center and the possibleÂ overthrow of the Thai government have numerous consequences for us all.Â In addition, Nigeria is hosting riots that show a microcosm of the “WarÂ On Terror,” and your neighborhood church might be sending youth groups toÂ build houses for the survivors of the floods in the Santa Catarina regionÂ of Brazil.
Whether it’s a common courtesy for a friend or a world event, it’s clearÂ that we should stop stop thinking about ourselves so much and payÂ attention to what’s going on around us. Every headline in theÂ ”International News” section affects us, even if it’s not obvious. SoÂ whether or not we care, it’s time to read.
Posted in Asia, Current Affairs, Study Ablog, To the Right
Posted on 19 November 2008.
Journalists and commentators often describe Turkey as a â€œMuslim democracyâ€ or a â€œpredominantly Muslim country.â€ Ezra Klein is the latest, in a smart post on Turkish Prime Minister ErdoÄŸanâ€™s recent offer to broker talks between Iran and the Obama administration. Iâ€™ve even done it before, in one of my columns at theWildcat. These sort of phrases are tough to avoid when writing about Turkey, especially when official statistics claim that 99 percent of Turks are Muslims. But they are terribly facile. Consider a few improvements:
- Turkey is a predominantly Sunni Muslim country with a heterodox population that includes a significant Alevi minority.
- Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country with deep historical ethnic divisions between Turks, Kurds, and other groups.
- Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country where newborns are listed as â€˜Muslimâ€™ by default in public records.
- Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country with a laÃ¯cist government frequently criticized by fundamentalist Muslims around the world.
- Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country that once ruled most of the Islamic world, but didnâ€™t always keep its subjects happy.
Itâ€™s fair to call Turkey â€œpredominantly Muslim.â€ But itâ€™s unwise to give this fact too much geopolitical importance. After all, Austria is â€œpredominantly Christian,â€ but that doesnâ€™t give it a whole lot of heft with Bolivia.
Cross-posted at Connor Mendenhall
Posted in Asia, Study Ablog