Monday, May 19, 2014

Two More Resolutions For Gulen

Ok, the long-promised Gulen update. [For those of you who don't know, the Gulen Movement is a Turkish transnational social/religious/political movement whose leader lives in Pennsylvania, and whose followers run some 150 publicly funded American charter schools: an operation in full harmony and accord with the long-range goals of the Movement. It's all very obfuscated.]

First, the Turquoise Language Festival, in Rosemont. The sponsors have posted this highlight reel; it's lovely. It's quite long. (They've finally learned how to turn off the embedding feature of Youtube videos, as well. Kudos.)  The contestants are almost entirely students at the Gulen-linked charter schools and private religious schools throughout the region, although the school names are not mentioned. We have a pretty good working list here of which groups are from which schools.

(Normally, I'd post the video here, but with embedding turned off, I'm limited to a screenshot.
Yes, that's Elaine Nekritz.
I have written extensively about the nature of these events, and their connection to the religious aspect of the Gulen Movement, so refer to that if you like.  In short, this event, in my analysis, represents the closest, most obvious and visible-from-the-surface connection between the charter schools and the Gulen Movement, a point I make not in alarm, but in the cold review of facts, at length.  There are many other connections; it's just that you have to dig harder to establish them.  Nothing is new in this year's version of the folk arts festival, except the following items:

1. The Turkish Consul is not at the event, obviously. The Turkish Prime minister has basically initiated an extradition process for the Movement's leader, Fethullah Gulen (his former ally), so it seems highly unlikely that the Turkish government is going to send the Turkish Consul of Chicago to support this event, which is one of the crown jewel's of the Gulen Movement's public relations efforts. The Consuls of Venezuela and Pakistan were there, oddly.  I have reached out to the Turkish Consul in Chicago; I don't expect a response, but much more on that later. I'll be talking to the people at the Pakistani and Venezuelan consulates shortly. I've basically tried to ask the questions that I would expect journalists to ask.

2. Several Illinois luminaries were there, as I have previously noted.

     A) Elaine Nekritz, who speaks at about the 7:30 mark. Nekritz was a 2008 guest of the Niagara Foundation and the now defunct but reborn & renamed Chicago Turkish American Chamber of Commerce, so she's really quite invested in the Gulen Movement's version of Turkish-American relations. She tells a silly story and tries to tie it in to what she perceives is the theme of the event.

    B) Michelle Mussman is there, and she also addresses the crowd. She reads aloud the text of HR0954, which is a new praise-be-to-the-(Gulenist)-Turkish American Society Resolution sponsored by Jack Franks, who evidently went to Turkey with the Gulenist groups in both 2011 and 2012 and who can be counted on for repayment. Representative Mussman herself has not been to Turkey, she has graciously informed me. It's weird that they've somehow reeled her in for the purpose of reading Jack Franks' resolution.  Where's Jack?

        The other weird thing is that they stripped all reference to Gulen out of the resolution; too much heat, in my guess.  Here's the text.

WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois House of
3Representatives wish to recognize the Second Annual Turquoise
4Art and Language Contest, organized by the Turkish American
5Society, to be held at the Rosemont Theater on April 12, 2014;
7    WHEREAS, The Turquoise Art and Language Contest is held
8annually to promote intercultural understanding, friendship,
9and dialogue; and 
10    WHEREAS, The contestants will demonstrate diverse talents
11such as folk dancing, singing, and poetry recitation, in a
12multitude of languages including English, Spanish, and
13Turkish; and 
14    WHEREAS, The Turkish American Society began operating in
152005 in the city of Mount Prospect to facilitate and encourage
16cross-cultural experiences and interfaith cooperation; and 
17    WHEREAS, The Turkish American Society is involved in
18generous philanthropic ventures and projects that benefit the
19people of the State of Illinois, such as: addressing the social
20and cultural needs of the Turkish-American community living in
21the Chicago area, creating a welcoming environment for new

HR0954- 2 -LRB098 20715 MST 57579 r

1immigrants and helping them adapt to life in the United States,
2providing communities with educational services, introducing
3Turkish culture to the Chicago area, uniting the
4Turkish-American community, and establishing dialogue between
5diverse communities with the goal of leading to global peace;
7    WHEREAS, The Turkish American Society efforts to forge a
8stronger bond amongst all Illinoisans and spread the wonders of
9Turkish culture are worthy of the greatest respect; therefore,
10be it 
13we extend our best wishes to the participants of the Turkish
14American Society's Second Annual Turquoise Art and Language
15Contest and thank the Turkish American Society for their
16wonderful work; and be it further 
17    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
18presented to the Turkish American Society as a symbol of our
19esteem and respect.

You really have to be a detective to figure out that the people organizing and probably writing these resolutions and handing them off to junketed lawmakers are all the same.

Sorry about the formatting; I'm typing quickly. This resolution is much less obvious than Susana Mendoza's now infamous paeon to Fethullah Gulen in 2011. Strategic ambiguity. It's really a habit they can't shake loose from--- every little thing needs a resolution in a state capitol or the US Capitol. You can shake up the names for the American audience, keep people from seeing the connections, but none of that matters for the real audience.

3. Which brings us to the letter of support written, evidently from the heavily recruited U.S. Representative Robin Kelly, who evidently entered a similarly worded resolution of praise into the United States Congressional Record prior to the April 12 event in Rosemont. I'm not sure who this outreach is aimed at; there's clearly an audience for it back home. And by home I mean Turkey.  The event is a talent show for Turkish folk arts; it needs a Congressional resolution? Evidently Tammy Duckworth sent a letter as well, but I haven't seen it.

4. Other people present include, as I've posted before, include Alderman Mary O'Connor, Dupage County Sheriff John Zaruba, Theresa Mah (from Gov. Quinn's staff), and a bunch of people from Elmhurst College, which appears to be completely in the bag. All of the public-sector people on this list are receiving polite inquiries from us, about whether they've junketed in Turkey with any of the Gulenist groups. I think it's fine if they have; it should just be part of the record because we're talking about a group that has business before the state: a growing network of charter schools.

5. There is some ambiguity about exactly where the Turquoise winners will go, and when. With the internecine war inside Turkey, and with state facilities being cut off, the Gulenists appear to be limiting the normally two-week extravaganza to just three days, as described in this video.

However, the Twitter account for the event's organizers is still showing the original two-week span, at least as of tonight.

Who knows. I would keep my kid home. The prime minister has recently announced that he's going to "boil" and/or "molecularlize" the Gulen Movement, whatever that means. There's been a huge falling out between two factions of a repressive political alliance. It won't end well.

I keep coming back to this beautifully written piece in the NYT Magazine. When I see the history of this thing in Turkey, and I measure the arc it's on here in the States, I have to keep digging. Like I say, the secrecy about what is actually going on--- that doesn't sit well with me. If we're going to connect 150+ charter schools to a secretive religious/nationalist group from overseas, that should be happening in sunlight.

Next up: the Turkey to Texas pipeline in teacher certification.

New to the topic? Please see some of my previous posts.

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