Democracy Island

The Turks are marking, not celebrating, the 50th anniversary of a coup d’etat engineered by the military.

During the coup, several hundred officials and other citizens were arrested and sent to a small island, where many were executed.

Now there is an effort to turn the island, and the building that held prisoners, into a memorial called “Democracy Island.”

Part of the article I read about it referred to several Turkish legal scholars who asserted that no way, no-how, was the coup d’etat legal according either to the Constitution as it read 50 years ago or to the Constitution as established after Kemal Attaurk led the fight to create a republic in the 1930s. (Attaturk is the George Washinigton of Turkey–and more.)

I had two reactions to the article. 1) Although those interested in creating a memorial are obviously on the right track, to create a “democracy island” may reflect how fragile democracy is. 2) Many disinterested political scientists I know assert that Gore won the election, and many legal scholars whose work I’ve read remark on how embarrassing the Surpremes’ decision was that stopped the recount in Florida. An “unconstitutional” decision”? Hard to say. Nonetheless: “Democracy Island,” indeed.

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