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Young Turks

Posted by ESC on October 02, 2002

In Reply to: "young Turk" posted by masakim on October 02, 2002

: : I read recently the expression,"the coup was led by a group of "young Turk" junior partners in the firm. Does anyone know the origin and definition of this expression? Thanks Guy Andrews

: young Turk
: writes:
: I wonder about the expression "young turk." I know what it means, but where does it come from? Is it from a work of literature, or was it a particular Turk in history?
: The main meaning of the expression young Turk is 'a member of an insurgent, usually liberal faction within a political group or other organization'. The expression is a figurative application of the Young Turks, which was the popular name for the Committee of Union and Progress, a revolutionary reformist group that led a successful rebellion in (yes!) Turkey in 1908 and held power for another decade or so.
: The word Turk has been used since the sixteenth century to mean 'a person having characteristics traditionally applied to the Turks; (specifically) a cruel or tyrannical person'; there is an isolated example in 1904 of the phrase "young Turk" which is probably just an application of this sense.
: From The Mavens' Word of the Day (Sep 17, 1996)
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: "These young Turks in the LDP are still on the fringe," said Hideaki Kase, a historian and political commentator. "So it's my bet that Hashimoto will win, because he controls the apparatus." (Doug Struck, "Revolt Opens Up Race to Lead Japan," _The Washington Post_, Apr 12, 2001).

YOUNG TURKS - "insurgents; restive elements within a party seeking control or at least a voice; usually, not always, comparatively young.

The Young Turks were the reformers of the Ottoman Empire, a revolutionary group that seized power in 1908 from the aging sultans; in 1922 the House of Osman gave up and the Young Turks - middle-aged by then - set up a republic.

The name was used to describe a group of Republican senators in 1929 who broke with their leadership over tariff legislation. Wrote 'Time" magazine at the time: '.These new Republican warriors were called the Young Turks, a band of about 20 who had mutinied against the feeble leadership of the 'Old Guard.' For senators they were young men (average age 56). As legislative legionnaires they were mostly rookies serving their first Senate enlistment.'"

Today the phrase is used to describe any faction impatient with delay or defeat, seeking action. Party regulars use it patronizingly, but those so labeled do not resent it. The phrase was eclipsed for a time by 'angry young men.'

During the Bermuda Conference of 1953, Winston Churchill digressed from the agenda to discuss imperialism with Dwight Eisenhower, expressing his doubts about the wisdom of self-government for peoples not yet ready for it. When the American President disagreed with a portion of Prime Minister's argument, Churchill smiled and said, 'You're just like the Young Turks in my government.'"

From Safire's New Political Dictionary by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).

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