Saturday, November 27, 2010
Harvard, which takes pride in its ethics vigilance, recently admitted Mehmet Emre Gul, the son of the Islamofascist president Abdullah Gül and a highly controversial entrepreneur in Turkey. Mehmet Emre Gül co-founded an internet commerce company in 2007 as a 15-year old high school student with two partners and a capital outlay of 15,000 Turkish liras (ca. 10,000 US dollars). Since Emre was a minor at the time of incorporation, his parents administered the partnership on his behalf as his legal guardians. During that time, Abdullah Gül was serving as the minister of foreign affairs of the country. The e-commerce site, which was selling different kinds of merchandise from furniture to pet products, from household items to hobby products, became so successful that the young businessman established a second firm in 2010 to sell local food varieties from different parts of Turkey on the internet.
In a country like Turkey, where average monthly salary is 300 US dollars and even entrepreneurs with long experience and sizable amounts of capital face enormous bureaucratic hurdles to start a business, unless they are in cahoots with the ruling AKP, many people view the rapid success of little Emre with suspicion. In fact, corruption, favoritism, and nepotism are the name of the game in the Turkish economy. In recent years, the ruling Islamofascist AKP party has added its “flair” to this disturbing landscape by aggressively seeking to transfer economic power from traditional secular corporations to up-and-coming Islamic enterprises through government contract awards, favorable legislation and even direct government intervention in favor of the latter. The objective is to create a solid Islamic corporate world that will dominate the national economy and support AKP’s rule into the eternity. Burak Bekdil’s article, accessible at the following link, gives an excellent account of the rise of Islamic corruption under the AKP government: http://report.globalintegrity.org/Turkey/2007/notebook.
While little Emre was rejoicing at success in his entrepreneurial and academic endeavors, his father was busy filing charges against anyone who seemed to raise the slightest voice of criticism against his presidential record tainted with partisan policy decisions: A school teacher was being prosecuted for allegedly insulting President Gül and faced a 4-year prison term (1); A journalist was sentenced to 11 months in jail for a commentary posted on a news portal that he moderates (2); Another ordinary citizen was facing up to 4 year in prison for an allegedly offensive email he sent to the President (3); A 48-year old real estate agent was being prosecuted for posting on an online news article a commentary offensive to the President (4); A woman was given an 11-month jail term for insulting President Gül in an online commentary (5); An attorney was being prosecuted for defaming the president in an op-ed he wrote in a rural newspaper in Anatolia (6); A prominent leftist columnist, who later died of cancer, was being charged with defaming President’s wife, facing up to 2 years and 4 months in prison (7). These are only a few examples of the zeal Abdullah Gül has demonstrated in persecuting those who publicly contend that the President violates his constitutional duty of equidistance to all political parties and that he reneges on his obligation to guard Turkey’s secular regime through his unflinching support for the Islamofascist AKP government and his appointing of Islamist bureaucrats to key positions.
As for Harvard’s admission of Mehmet Emre, two explanations may exist as to why the revered educational institution let the little Gül join its student body despite his dubious business ventures. First, the admissions committee was not aware of Mehmet Emre’s business dealings and the public outcry over them in Turkey. This, however, casts doubt upon the soundness of rudimentary background examinations Harvard is supposed to conduct on admits. If even basic public information cannot be collected or corroborated, admissions process will likely be vulnerable to all kinds of willful misrepresentations and misinformation by some ill-intentioned applicants. This deficiency would indisputably cause a dent in the credibility of the admissions system of one of the most reputable education institutions in the world. The second explanation is that Harvard simply ignored corruption allegations regarding Emre’s rapid ascension into the ranks of e-commerce entrepreneurs in Turkey. This alternative suggests, though, a blatant disregard of ethical standards in Emre’s admission decision, a situation far worse than a failure of technical nature in the admissions process.
It is unfair to expect that Harvard conduct a thorough investigation to determine if corruption allegations regarding Emre’s ventures are meritless. This would theoretically be the job of the Turkish law enforcement, although it is naïve to hope that Turkish authorities will go after the son of the President given the current state of affairs in Turkey, where the principle of equality of citizens before the law does not apply. It is the very responsibility of Harvard, however, to ensure that people having such a tainted record are not admitted. Otherwise, Harvard will lose all credibility with respect to its claim of upholding the highest ethical standards.
Another factor which makes Harvard’s admittance of Emre scandalous is related to his father’s acts as president in Turkey. The aforementioned examples and many more prove that President Gül uses his presidential powers to choke off freedom of speech and to get people thrown in jail for simply writing online commentaries critical of his policies. Taking this particular situation to a more general and maybe philosophical level, the question would be whether the son of a dictator should be deprived of his right to obtain education at a school like Harvard just because he is the son of the dictator. From a logical standpoint, if an applicant is known to be intimately connected with an oppressive regime that tramples upon human rights and freedoms, Harvard, and any other school which contends that it upholds the very values the oppressive regime violates, is morally obligated to ask the applicant to publicly distance herself from and denounce the acts of the regime.
The situation is graver if the applicant is not only associated with the oppressive regime but also actively participates, for example, by drawing economic or political benefits from his connections to the detriment of others. In such a case s/he should have no place at an institution which claims adherence to the highest ethical standards and champions universal human rights and liberties. Unfortunately, Harvard admission committee must have thought otherwise.
Harvard’s admission of Emre Gül is to be a case study for admissions officers at colleges and universities in the free world. It also is a slap in the face of those who believe ethical standards should apply strictly and across the board in admission decisions, including those of corrupt children of leaders in oppressive regimes.