America’s Cultural Codes


The name of America’s latest racist organization is Proud Boys, although the phrase expresses pride, boldness, insolence, conceited and superiority regardless of whether one leans to the left or right. In the presidential debate with Joe Biden, Donald Trump declared, “stand back and stand by” while refusing to condemn the Proud Boys, who are recognized as a hate group and who incite violence at left-wing rallies. Positioning themselves as a “pro-western fraternity” organization, the Proud Boys are a white supremacist group.

These types of organizations are not new in America or in the West. The notion of “whiteness” is not limited to skin color as determined by one’s DNA. There are many social and cultural codes based on language, religion and sectarian affiliation. Even though there are certainly Germanic and Aryan races, there are controversial people among them. According to one claim, both Slavic people and other eastern Europeans are not considered white. Explaining in her book “America the Beautiful, Fesuphanallah! Nasihatname 1” how the notion of eugenics was ingrained and institutionalized in the foundation of America, Alev Alatlı combines the substance of this concept with that of “the three matters,” meaning those who protect the mythology and cultural values of England, France and Rome” (nasihatname).

This issue was on the agenda during the Trump-Biden debate and brought a classification to mind that has not aged since ancient Greece. It is good that Trump applied it, for it reminded us again about America’s cultural codes.

Is Bill Gates a Savior or a Destroyer?

The fact that the top 12 richest Americans increased their wealth by $283 billion during the pandemic, a 40% increase, has received a great deal of attention. Together with the pandemic, this and much other news have called into question the global elite, global alliances, and as a result, globalization. Bill Gates is among this elite. There is a majority of those who claim that Gates gave talks about health in the name of preserving the interests of global alliances. It is a fact that the pandemic has increased awareness of globalization. I would add a note here from the writings of Indian activist Vandana Shiva, entitled “Bill Gates’ Global Agenda and How We Can Resist His War on Life.” Shiva writes, “He gives money to define the problems, and then he uses his influence and money to impose the solutions. And in the process, he gets richer. His ‘funding’ results in an erasure of democracy and biodiversity, of nature and culture. His ‘philanthropy’ is not just philanthrocapitalism. It is philanthroimperialism.”

There are even those who write that global capital has invaded our bodies along with the coronavirus. Beyond conspiracy theories, it is necessary to understand this global condition better using actual data, so that we may be prepared for what could happen to us.

Istanbul’s Immigrant Entrepreneurs

A research report on Istanbul’s immigrant entrepreneurs was conducted and published by Omer Caha, Aysegul Komsuoglu Citipitioglu, Yusuf Adiguzel, Ahmet Oguz Demir and Oguzhan Altinkoz for the International Migration and Refugee Association. Using extremely interesting data beyond the social and cultural dimension of integration, the study draws attention to the economic sphere in Turkey. It removes the debate on this issue from one about the aid economy, and places it within the framework of self-sufficiency. It draws attention to the ever present potential to understand the economic conditions of immigrants, support them, and improve necessary skills. Supporting entrepreneurs also creates important opportunities for the host country.

According to the research data, immigrants have become quite entrepreneurial over the last four to five years. Societal pressures, bureaucratic procedure and language barriers affect entrepreneurship. Many immigrants have established businesses using their own means. Some 59.8% of immigrants have opened a business with money that they brought with them from their home countries. Twenty-six percent have established a business with money that they earned in Turkey. Some 14.2% received assistance from friends and within their social environment. Their common goal is the desire to have a better life in Turkey. Seventy-two percent have established businesses that continue previous careers here in Turkey. They now see their futures here. Fifty-two percent work in the service sector; 34.4% in commerce and marketing. Their businesses include supermarkets, groceries, fast food sales, restaurants, bakeries and hair salons. Another interesting point of the research is that 10.7% of the enterprises are integrated into international markets. Immigrant businesses export both to their countries of origin and to surrounding ones as well. When examined from the standpoint of gender, we see that 29% of business owners are women.

According to the research, one-third of society holds a negative view of these businesses. Twenty-seven percent of immigrant entrepreneurs list exclusion and segregation as the biggest difficulties they face.

The capacity of immigrant entrepreneurs to engage in trade with other countries could be even greater. Benefiting from this capacity, and developing knowledge and skills will contribute to the diversification of immigrant entrepreneurs’ economic activity.

Supporting entrepreneurship should absolutely take its place among the policy priorities designed to integrate immigrants into society. The aforementioned research, examining immigrants living in Turkey from an economic standpoint, opens another window for us to explore more than the problem of focusing on immigrants as problems and on the issue of aid. My heartfelt thanks to the research team.

About this publication


About Wesley Lummus 5 Articles
Born and raised in Texas, I earned my B.A. and M.A. in History from Texas Tech University and moved to Minneapolis to pursue my Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. I am currently finishing my doctoral thesis, “One Nation, Two Languages: Latinization and Language Reform in Turkey and Azerbaijan, 1905-1938,” and plan to defend in December 2020. I have also taught undergraduate history courses on the Middle East and North Africa, Islam and the West, and the Ottoman Empire. In the summers of 2011 and 2012, I was fortunate to be awarded the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) for Azerbaijani language study in Baku and, from 2014 to 2018, traveled to Istanbul and Ankara for my doctoral research. My passion for the languages and histories of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Central Asia have guided my academic career so far. I believe that translation is a rewarding way to deepen my knowledge of these languages.

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