The Turkish Taraf Daily’s columnist, Sevan Nishanyan, who wrote a humanistic adaptation of Ataturk’s “Address to Turkish Youth,” a patriotic speech calling on young people to protect their country at all costs, published e-mails received from irate nationalists and filled with threats and vulgar language in his column yesterday.
In his adaptation, Nishanyan replaced the first sentence of the address, “Your first duty is to preserve and to defend Turkish Independence and the Turkish Republic forever,” with “Your first duty is to be a human being.” The sentences: “This is the very foundation of your existence and your future. This foundation is your most precious treasure. In the future, too, there may be malevolent people at home and abroad, who will wish to deprive you of this treasure” in the original were changed to: “The very foundation of being human is love toward other human beings. All through your life, you shall consider it a duty for yourself to teach beauty, reason and justice to people. If you have knowledge, you will share it without expecting anything in return.” The rest of Nishanyan’s adaptation was a treatise on the equality of all human beings.
However, the backlash from some among the Turkish youth was spine-chilling. “We will make you write the correct version of the ‘Address to Youth’ with your own blood. … I’ll kill you like that Hrant Dink dog,” said one of the messages, most of whose text was not suitable for replication here.
Another one said: “I have been praying for years to be able to kill one of your kind when I’m on my army duty. I would do this in cold blood and killing your ilk would not hurt my conscience at all but would give me honor. … You should know that we are waiting for the tiniest spark.” Another message was the sender’s own adaptation, “Turkish Youth! Your primary duty is to adopt as a principle to wipe from the earth for the sake of Turkishness and humanity the Armenians and Kurds, that champion enmity against Turks and which are the most debased nations on earth.”
Yet another version started: “Oh You! The despicable creature who thinks himself a man because you know how to write. You and your ilk will see the power of the Turkish Nation very soon. Armenians and others, those who continue their corrupted intrigues to separate the country despite all the tolerance we have shown will pay the price they deserve to pay in the near future. Now is your day to speak, but don’t you worry; that will change in a year or two. The day we’ll settle accounts with you is near! We’ll see if you can show the same courage then!! Find a hole to hide in, you separatist PKK-supporting traitors.”
“Yours is a cowardly nation. You can write all you want about Ataturk; you’ll never have the strength to destroy his republic. But you and your owners who hold your leash should remember that the thing that can cross your immunity and protection is a 9mm bullet.” Other messages accused him of being a lapdog of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen.