The issue of violence against physicians and health workers in general came to the fore again after the murder of Doctor Ekrem Karakaya by a relative of a patient. Legal measures such as bringing a new law that stipulates prison sentences for those who attack health workers without any reduction of the punishment are not a solution to the issue. The draft law brought by the opposition to increase the sentences are rejected by the ruling coalition votes in the Parliament. I always believe that the change in the law follows the change in people’s minds. But I’m not sure that raising the penalties and preventing people from entering the hospital with a gun will be a deterrent on its own. Because the provoked person is the greatest weapon. Person who sees themselves righteous to attack, attacks with fists or with a fire extinguisher.
Moreover, not only physicians and health workers are the target. Teachers, lawyers, judges, journalists, professional diplomats and even lawmakers are targeted. We are witnessing the results of a period in which the verbal or de facto attack on them was not condemned by the political power circles, but tolerated. The AKP has followed a systematic policy of devaluation for more than a decade in order to achieve equality, in their own terms: Universities, judiciary, parliament, press, health, army, diplomacy, etc. were devalued.
Millions of Frankensteins
Therefore, people who were educated and worked in these professions that require some education and skill also got their share from that devaluation. There was sociological and psychological basis for this. Some educated and high-ranking people start to look down on others with the opportunities brought by that position.
The AKP came to power not only over the economic failure of the previous Ecevit-Bahçeli-Yılmaz coalition, which it now even worse, but also over an accumulation, which was embodied by the fact that students with headscarves were not allowed to attend school and women who wore headscarves could not enter qualified jobs.
However, this policy of devaluation, embodied by President Tayyip Erdogan’s rhetoric of “know your place” that surrounded the society at the speed of light, not led to bring equality, it led to the emergence of millions of Frankensteins, who perceive being equal as a right to do what they can. Now, with their effect, the government also sees that this rotten man-weapon will one day hit them, but the control is almost out of hand.
Fear of free people
When the first cases of violence against physicians and public officials in general emerged, I, like most people who were disturbed by this trend, made the mistake of perceiving this as an anti-intellectual hostility as a by-product of the peasant-urban conflict. I think that when İlber Ortaylı says ignorant, he does not just mean not having enough education; I think it also means a way of life, mutual respect, understanding and behavior. Otherwise “Prof. Dr.” Bülent Arı, who – I regret to say studied at METU, from which I graduated- and received the title but said, “I trust the wisdom of the people who are ignorant and did not even go to primary school in this country,” is also one of the “educated” people. But he has an arrogance that implicates those who are good people and good citizens even though they could never have had an education.
The provoked people are the most dangerous weapon, and the real trouble of the instigators is not with the educated person; Whether had an education or not, a free man means a free mind. The system has no problem with “the educated” who have surrendered their minds and will to a master, dervish lodge, or ideology without questioning them.
What they don’t want is the model of a person who thinks and acts freely.
A human with free mind, free knowledge, free conscience
Do you think that children who marched in the streets with their turbans and robes on the grounds of getting Hafiz’s license are not educated? Among them, future professors, judges, generals, doctors, deputies, ministers and journalists will emerge. Like how the ones who could not took such walks in the past are working today.
Hasn’t it been seen that being educated alone does not mean enlightenment, when the Germans, one of the most educated and cultured societies in Europe, brought Nazism and Italians fascism to power through elections?
The problem isn’t that you haven’t been educated. The problem is to be a person with “free mind, free knowledge, free conscience” as Tevfik Fikret wrote in that wonderful verse. Those who see danger in not being able to take the society, which consists of people with free knowledge, free knowledge and conscience under their ideological control, are now puzzled over how they can keep those who think they can do anything in their ability under their control.
On professional bigotry
It cannot be done without mentioning professional fanaticism and bigotry, which contributed to this artificial literate-uneducated distinction in society and was a factor in drifting to extremes like today.
Let’s start with journalism as a self criticism. While I was running newsrooms and giving lectures at universities, I opposed the portrayal of journalism as a “sublime” profession. I argued that journalism is an industry branch that is considered assuming a public duty because of its responsibility to the public.
I have never looked at journalists free from all kinds of mistakes. Aren’t there any journalists who write news and make comments for their benefit? Among the surgeons, which is the only job that I can count as sublime for myself because it directly concerns human life, aren’t there ones that take money for the operations? Haven’t you ever heard of lawyers who cover up all kinds of violations under the right of defense, and the judge who sells the case for financial gain? Not all cops are torturers, but aren’t there any cops that commits torture? Not all imams are rapists, but aren’t there imams and teachers that are rapists? Aren’t there lecturers who praise ignorance like Bülent Arı, whose example I gave above?
It is also a violation of the principle of “free mind, free knowledge, free conscience” not to speak out about those who make mistakes in our profession with professional bigotry. We cease to be free people and become our antithesis.