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Reader comment on item: Turkey, Closest to Leading the Middle East
in response to reader comment: Moderate Mahomet

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Jan 30, 2013 at 12:32

>> Wasn't Gorbachev a moderate communist in your eyes ? Do you find what the Afghan communists were doing (land reform, fighting illiteracy, equal rights for women, abolishing shariah etc.) "extremist" compared to America's anti-communist darlings' actions like Hekmatyar or the Taliban ?

Gorbachev makes the point, I think. Precisely because he was trying the impossible, to "reform" Communism, he unintentionally hastened its precipitous collapse (incidentally I think he gets too little credit for his indispensable role in ending the Cold War peacefully, even if he didn't intend to collapse the Soviet Empire.)

As for the Afghan Communists, even if they were doing some good things, their classic creed could only have led them to one-party control, with secret police, etc, if they had achieved power. No long-term hope there.

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>>Maybe Franco's reconstruction of Spain after the civil war or Mussolini's first years in power?

If aggression is inherent in 'true' Fascism, then Franco was not a very good Fascist. I'm of the view that he showed real courage, and performed a great service for the Allies (even if that was the secondary motive) in refusing Hitler permission to enter and cross Spain to reach North Africa after his armies swept through France and reached the Pyrenees. In the face of all that Nazi might, he kept up that refusal, and got away with it, until those armies finally withdrew north 3 or 4 years later.

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>>some Jews might be tempted to think that Ataturk was a moderate anti-Semite remembering how he praised Jews when he needed them and how he persecuted, expropriated and expelled them when he stood no longer in need of them and seeing how obstinately the Turkish-Israeli "friendship" -just like everything else relating to Turkey - is justified with quotes of and references to Ataturk.

A contradiction in that sentence? How could the once utilitarian modus operandi between Israel and Turkey, now killed off by not-so-secret Islamic fanatic Erdogan, be attributed to Ataturk if he'd been as negative to Jews as you claim. I could be deficient in knowledge about this aspect of his career, but nothing I've read refers to his expropriation of Jews, and certainly not to anti-Semitism. I admit that my opinion of him is governed by his comprehensive and unremitting attempt to uproot Islam from Turkish life – his abolition of the caliphate and sharia, his disapproval of the veil and attempt to give equality of status to women. he also performed a real post-WW I service by specifically renouncing any irredentist claims to former lands of the Ottoman Empire. And all the violence he engaged in seems nationalist in motive, with none of it Islamist – he was never, as far as I can tell, a Jihadi.

In his magnificent history of the first World War (5 vols), Winston Churchill gives grudging praise to Ataturk as an honorable adversary, something he certainly wouldn't have done if he thought Ataturk were any kind of promoter of Islam, which Churchill had powerfully condemned as early as 1899, when he said of the religion, "no stronger retrograde force exists in the world".(what a shame no western leader would, so far, dare to say any such thing today)

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>I once asked Dr. Pipes if in his opinion Mahomet was a moderate Moslem. He answered :" Not to be facetious, but I am far from convinced that such a person even existed, much less do we have credible information about his life.

Maybe there is a connection to this strange opinion of Dr Pipes and his equally strange opinion about 'Dream Islam' as you called it. For if Mohammed never existed (even if his existence is far better documented than that of either Moses or Jesus, let alone Abraham) then it is easier to conjure up some image of a 'moderate' or even 'dream' Islam – the latter as the exact reverse definition of everything Islam claims to stand for. Whereas if Mohammed actually existed, as seems overwhelmingly probable, then you have a flesh and blood leader and icon who must be taken down if anything tolerable is ever going to replace his hateful and supremacist creed.

Thanks for your interesting comments, and continued best wishes for your country. With a little luck I may be visiting Stettin (as spelled in Churchill's famous 1946 speech) in March.

Ron Thompson

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