That's a line from an old Monty Python skit. Repeating it will not land you in prison.
But suggesting in academic debate that Ataturk was not a progressive will. It will get you, as of yesterday, a fifteen month suspended sentence in a Turkish prison. Think Midnight Express.
Now, the law under which Dr. Atilla Yayla was convicted is not the same as the more famous crime of "Insulting Turkishness," which the European Union uses as an excuse not to admit Turkey to member status even as it imports thousands of Turkish guest workers to provide it with cheap labor. It's a specific prohibition on insult to the founder of the Turkish State, who has been dead for seventy years. The American equivalent would be a jail sentence for suggesting that the Potomac River is so broad that, in fact, George Washington could not possibly have thrown a silver dollar across it.
I write about this because while it's easy to laugh from across the pond at the barbarous Turks and their uncivilized laws, America is in some ways committed to open immigration, both legal and illegal. And while that's a good thing in many respects, in taking in people of other cultures, we also take in their beliefs, many of which are at odds with our own, particularly on the value of unrestrained speech and debate. Turkey is, compared to much of the rest of the world, a beacon of liberalism.
Considering that every legal immigrant has a chance at citizenship (and depending on who wins the Presidential election, many illegals may as well) it doesn't take a Cassandra to see that we're in for some interesting times down the road with an electorate that may become, as much as the homegrown variety that sponsors flag-burning amendments and speech codes, hostile to the idea of open debate. This is of particular concern in an era of identity politics and multiculturalism which, for all their merits, do no encourage immigrants to assimilate American cultural or political values.
Oh, and since I can say it, Kemal Ataturk was guilty of genocide.