Monday, March 28, 2016

Western Media Awash in Disinformation and Hogwash about Turkey

As someone originally from Turkey (of Kurdish background) who follows the international news fairly closely, I have been particularly alarmed by the level of unfair and grossly inaccurate journalism vis-a-vis Turkey, post-Arab Spring.

Here is a country that----under Erdogan's leadership----managed to turn its past economic and democratic dismal-self around remarkably in the last decade or so, and became, for the last couple of years, perhaps the most humanitarian of all governments, by allowing, and taking care of, some 3 million Syrian and Iraqi (Arabs, Kurds, Yezidis, Christians etc.) refugees  into its territory.

But according to the most Western media, Turkey seems to be a horrible place where journalists are jailed and minorities are oppressed. One gets a sense that the pre-Erdogan Turkey was like the proverbial Switzerland, but Erdogan took all that away. Whereas those of us with some fair sense of judgement who happened to have lived in pre-Erdogan Turkey knows very well that it was a God-forsaken country both economically and democratically. It would be an insult to human intelligence to even compare today's Turkey to that of old Turkey. But, alas, that is exactly what the Western media is doing.

Below I will post two of my hurriedly-written (hence my apologies for any typos or mistakes) protest responses (with small modifications) to two media programs (one newspaper opinion column, the other a radio program). I don't have time to flesh them out into stand-alone pieces (not at this time, at least), but I am hoping that from their content you will get my points.

The following protest response was addressed to the authors of a piece on Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

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Hi,

If you two were in my field of study, that is, physics, your piece titled “Turkey is murdering its own Kurdish civilians. Will America speak out?” would sound as outrageous and “crackpotty” as one claiming that the Earth is flat and 6000 years old.

Are you guys for real? What do you know about Turkey and the Turkish Kurds?

I am originally from the Northeastern part of Turkey, of Kurdish ethnicity, and hence very familiar with the country, its history, its Kurdish problem, the PKK , its corrupt and mythomaniac political wing (the HDP), and Erdogan’s transformed Turkey of the recent years.

What you don’t seem to have properly studied and learned is the fact that the PKK, which the majority of the Kurds in Turkey don’t support (if they did, the whole country would be no different than the mess in Syria as the Turkish Kurds live more in the western cities of Turkey than the eastern ones), has trenched and barricaded parts of small cities in Southeastern Turkey, and piled loads of weapons, and started killing security forces with no justification whatsoever, hoping that the Kurdish people would revolt and protect and support them when the Turkish security forces showed up. The latter did not materialize, because unlike you the pretentious “scholars,” the people there know how barbaric, oppressive, and corrupt the PKK really is. What is more disturbing is that they declared war on the very government that has done unprecedented things in the way of advancing the rights of the Kurds.

Turkey is NOT massacring its Kurds… Contrary to the Turkey of old times, the new Turkey is very meticulous about the Kurdish civilians’ safety and rights.

What Turkey is facing currently is a large-scale terrorist takeover in some parts of
Southeastern Turkey. If ISIS or al-Qaeda did something similar in the West, what do you think the Western governments would do? Imagine people like you lamenting, if/when ISIS terrorists are killed by security forces, that they are “massacring” Muslims.

You cannot begin to fathom how embarrassingly off the mark your assessment is in the said piece. Turkey has been graciously hosting near 3 million people from Syria and Iraq, and among them are Arabs, Kurds, Christians, and Yezidis… Kobani would never have been taken from ISIS, were it not for the unrecognized help Turkey has provided in the form of food/provisions, accepting some 200, 000 Kurdish refugees from there, and opening up a corridor from Northern Iraq to Syria for the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to join the fight against ISIS.

 Serkan Zorba
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The one below was a protest response to a radio program I listened to on NPR titled On the Media:

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Hello,

First of all, sorry for potential typos; it is late but I need to get this protest of mine to your attention.

I just listened to your latest program about "unprecedented crackdown on press freedom in Turkey." You had only one guest in the program (Asli Aydintasbas), and by implication and the way you presented Turkey, you want us to believe and swallow her narrative while intellectual fairness demands that there be another person countering her allegations. But sadly no.

She made some very strong allegations about Turkey and you presumptuously acted as if they were facts of nature (of course, Turkey must be such a bad place, after all a Muslim-conservative party is in charge, right?!). 

The problem is that Asli Aydintasbas displayed, you not knowing it, what the problem is with "some" so-called journalists in Turkey. She told you only one side of the stories about Can Dundar or the Zaman Newspaper, or even her own dismissal from Milliyet. She also misinformed the listeners on the Kurdish issue (I am of Kurdish origin myself from Ardahan, in North East Turkey).

What she did not tell you is that Can Dundar printed top-secret documents (about Turkish "CIA") on Turkey sending aid to Free Syrian Army and the Turkmens (you would not think that Americans would not know this!), but spinning it such that they were being sent to ISIS. These photos and documents were illegally obtained by Gulen's cult members in police and judiciary who had infiltrated Turkey within especially the last few decades hoping to bring down a democratically elected government and have ultimate power in Turkey (a sort of cult-state). (I have known this group well since my college years in Turkey and even here.)

 The Zaman newspaper is their (Gulen Movement's) flagship newspaper whose only goal is to blackmail government and innocent people who stand in their way. For example: check the arrests of Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener, or Hanefi Avci by Gulen's devotee prosecutors a few years ago, when the movement was very powerful in Turkey.


While with your prejudices, my feedback might not mean much: but please please develop some empathy and think about the same things happening in the USA. What would happen to journalists who published top-secret CIA documents (with no foul play)?  Basically, something much more grievous than what Judith Miller has done.  And we know what happened to her!

What would happen if, say, Scientology started to infiltrate the American government offices through mostly illegal means (wiretapping millions of people, and blackmailing them, arresting them, espionage against the government---Edward Snowden, Julian Assange anyone?---etc.) and for a goal of subduing the whole country?

Regarding the the Kurdish towns being razed to the ground, what she left out is that it is PKK that did/does that. The PKK invaded certain towns in South Eastern Turkey in hopes of starting an uprising. But most of the Kurdish people did not support them and in fact left those towns. They took some people as hostages in some buildings. They converted people's homes (by destroying them appropriately) to barracks and trenches. The Turkish Kurds mostly did not support the PKK, because they knew well that for almost all of its existence the Turkish Republic persecuted them, but it was Erdogan's government that granted their God-given rights back to Kurds and opened peace negotiations with the PKK. But the PKK had other plans. 

So again, what would happen in France, say, if ISIS invades certain towns and starts killing French police and military?

Lastly, Asli's dismissal from Milliyet has nothing to do with the government. 

She basically took us---listeners---for a fool and you willingly allowed it. This is a shame!

This is journalistic equivalence of crackpottery. Turkey has a long way to go (like many Western countries even) toward real democracy, but I can tell you that---contrary to all the hogwash narratives about Turkey---Turkey has never been more democratic. 

Sincerely,
Serkan Zorba
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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Proposal to Establish World Electron Day

It is the mainstay of our electronics technology, from light bulbs to computers. It is also the particle whose dynamics controls all chemical reactions, and our biochemistry and genetics, from the firing of neurons to the information encoding in DNA.

A lot of things would not exist if it were not for the electron, one of the main constituents of the atom. It is critical for physics; it is critical for chemistry; it is critical for biology; and it is critical for our civilization. There is no other subatomic particle that is so singularly and pervasively beneficial to our existence and civilization.

So, I propound that we celebrate such a prominent entity—in an effort to raise awareness about the critical role it plays in our lives and civilization, and our vital dependence on this seemingly simple (fundamental) but truly versatile particle—by establishing a World Electron Day.

This would be a focused opportunity for our youth and general public to appreciate, and raise awareness about, the electron—and by extension—our technology and basic science.

I propose that that day be May 11 or 5-11, a reference to the invariant rest-mass energy of the electron in kilo-electron volts, namely 511 keV.

I believe that the universal and vital role that the electron plays in our lives and civilization is not recognized and appreciated enough. So I have decided to file a petition to establish a day to celebrate the electron. Please show your support for this proposal by signing the petition using the link below.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/365/501/676/celebrate-the-electron-by-establishing-a-world-electron-day/


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Math and Irony

The famous Basel problem is an infinite series of the form:







It was first posed by the Italian mathematician Pietro Mengoli in 1644.

Read on >>

Sunday, May 24, 2015

God is Random

Partly based on my essay: God is Random: A Novel Argument for the Existence of God,
European Journal of Science and Theology (in print, 2016). I had the original idea in around 2005 but could not get a chance to present it as an essay until recently.

Featured on islamicity.com and iviews.com.

The perennial debate between the two camps of Creationism and Evolution is based on a fallacious assumption about chance, randomness, and God.

The creationist, by whom I mean the anti-evolution type, shuns the ideas of chance and randomness, as for him/her they are the antithesis of what the concepts of God, order, harmony, and “intelligent design” are all about.

Very often when creationists assault Darwin’s theory, they do it by pointing out how it is all based on random chance mutations, and thus an anathema to the notion of God. “How can order of high complexity come out of chance and randomness?” they rhetorically ask.


Read on>>

Dark Energy and Dark Matter are Cosmic Centrifugal and Coriolis Forces

Below is my attempt at explaining the problems of dark energy and dark matter that I developed in 2010.

The two most outstanding unsolved problems of modern cosmology today are the problems of dark energy and dark matter. Together these two problems imply that about a whopping 96% of the energy content of the universe is simply unaccounted for within the reigning paradigm of modern cosmology.

The dark energy problem has been around only for about a decade and half, while the dark matter problem has gone unsolved for about 80 years. Various ideas have been put forward, including some fantastic ones such as the presence of ghostly fields and particles. Some ideas even suggest the breakdown of the standard Newton-Einstein gravity for the relevant scales.

Although some progress has been made particularly in the area of dark matter with the nonstandard gravity theories, the problems still stand unresolved. 



Sunday, June 8, 2014

So, Just Who is Dhul-qarnayn?

Featured on islamicity.com and iviews.com.

Dhul-qarnayn is a mysterious figure mentioned in the Qur’an whose identity has been a matter of contention and speculation to this day. Many differing theories were proposed on the identity of Dhul-qarnayn by Islamic scholars throughout the ages. This naturally has caused/been causing somewhat of a confusion. 

In this article, I am going to offer yet another opinion as to who this mysterious figure is. My goal, of course, is not to add to the confusion but rather to help eliminate it.

Read on >>

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What is Happening in Turkey?

What do the government protesters in Turkey want? What are they trying to achieve? Is Erdogan a "dictator"? Is Turkey like Libya and Egypt or even Iran?

If you have been following the likes of CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and the Economist, the answer you would get to the above questions would be one of damning judgment.

Read on >>