I am of course very grateful to the Guardian for employing Saint Greenwald. But Be Young & Shut Up is not a place for holding one’s tongue with regard to having big steaming piles of horseshit shoveled onto our plates by overpaid white men. And the Guardian does have this tendency, and they are displaying it very well with regard to the protests in Turkey at present.
The article to which I just linked is garbage, and the editorial staff of the Guardian is garbage for allowing it to be printed. For those who don’t know, the reactionary AKP (Turkey’s ruling party, a bastion of unashamed supporters of NATO, capitalism, privatization, police brutality, censorship, anti-intellectualism, sexism, homophobia, sectarian Sunni provocation, the GCC, and no matter what anybody tells you, Zionism) has been cracking down on protests against their attempt to turn a public park into a mall (although Turkey does not need any more malls). The protests were based on a genuine desire to not have a lovely park turned into a stupid mall, but for the reasons outlined above in parenthesis, many people in Turkey simply hate the AKP (with good reason, as they are amoral liars and sycophants dressed up in suits, so basically everything that the US government wants in foreigners, and indeed, it is precisely these sort of reactionary authoritarians who have been sponsored by US foreign policy all over the world for decades), so the turnout has been considerably more than simply those interested in the park itself. Indeed, as things escalated quickly, support continued to pour in for the protest even as police violence grew, and protests of support cropped up around the country, including in the two second largest cities in Turkey: Ankara and Izmir.
Now, I don’t know Yavuz Baydar. I don’t know his politics. I don’t know his career plan. But I do know bullshit. And this man, who apparently writes for the disgusting rag Today’s Zaman (upon which I spit), is writing some bullshit for foreigners to read and be misinformed by. In order:
- “The apprehension has little to do with the economy.” A lie. Many people in Turkey are apprehensive about the economy. If they weren’t, the AKP wouldn’t feel the need to put up propaganda billboards assuring the populace that they had fixed the economy (which in the neighborhood where I am presently staying, are scrawled with graffiti implying disbelief… and neither I nor anyone I know is responsible for the graffiti). Leftists (and you know, the poor) consider the AKP’s economic policies dangerous.
- “The negative energy emanating from Syria has a partial impact.” This is not elaborated on, but most people in Turkey oppose military intervention in Syria, while the government is just itching to go to war, even falsely claiming that an Al-Nusra Front bombing in Reyhanlı was the work of the Syrian Mukhabarat (as if the Mukhabarat uses car bombs or stands to gain by provoking Turkey, the second largest army in NATO, to start a war when they are in the midst of a civil war within their own borders!)
- “The jitters in public sentiment stem essentially from increasingly pronounced links between politics and religion, interventions in lifestyles and the demands of various social groups going unheeded.” So ignore the war and the economy, it’s all just about whether you drink or not! Don’t get me wrong, I am a staunch secularist in every country and I agree that the AKP has been trying to push religion on the population (more on pushing religion on people in point 8…), but their crimes are also economic and militarist.
- “All attention is focused on the decisive impact that Turkey’s Kurds will have on the country’s macro politics.” No, a lot of attention is also focused on those other things you just mentioned, including the thing you said that nobody was apprehensive about.
- “a powerful, single-party government is supposed to be able to make determined and far-reaching steps.” He’s so blasé about that…
- “When bombings in the border town of Reyhanli raised fears about fanning a Sunni-Alevi conflict, he made a move to kill two birds with one stone.” The ridiculous government claim was that the Mukhabarat did it, but way to demonize Alevis (how unsurprising coming from someone who works for Today’s Zaman!)
- “In May alone, the authorities violently suppressed May Day demonstrations, hastily demolished a historically iconic movie theatre to replace it with a shopping mall” Nothing economic about that! The state uses violence to shut up communists and builds a shopping mall against the wishes of the people! No, clearly Turkish people don’t have any economic disagreements with their government!
- “the urbanites, who include also moderate religious people.” Notice he doesn’t use the word “secular” once here. He also fails to mention non-Muslims in the country anywhere in the article, although he over-emphasizes the sectarian divisions between Sunnis and Alevis. Non-Muslims, such as Christians, Jews, Yezidis, Atheists, etc. don’t exist in his Turkey. Nor do secular Muslims. This is part of a project to reify (domestically and internationally) the concept of Turkey as an “Islamic society”, and in particular one in which secular persons of a Muslim background are replaced different KINDS of religious Muslims. This is in common with all other majority-Muslim countries, and it is the result of a long Cold War anti-communist project by NATO and the states that came to form the GCC (to be fair the USSR also shares some of the blame for being cowardly when it came to pushing for secularism out of a racist fear that non-whites couldn’t handle secularism like whites could, although ironically post-Soviet Russia is obsessed with the church). For religious fanatics in majority Muslim states have been funded out of fear of radical leftists and because of a sort of “opiate of the masses” logic, so that Muslim societies can be reduced to a discussion of religion. Meanwhile, religion in France or even the officially non-secular United Kingdom (and let me clear, I fully support the creation of a secular republic in the place of the UK) is rightly viewed as a non-important topic in the modern world. One does not refer to non-church-goers in England (again, a society with an official church!) as “moderately religious”, but as “non-religious”, but in Turkey, we must make it clear that they are still “bound” to their religion (because they are Muslims!) To reiterate: Everyone in Turkey is Muslim, they are just divided between Sunnis and Alevis, who disagree on everything politically, because none of them are secular and nothing about their worldview can be separated from their sectarian affiliations. I can see how he got a job at Today’s Zaman!
- “If this polarisation continues, the “reasonable consensus” required for a new constitution will become a distant fantasy.” So the problem with the AKP’s alienating the population with its backwardness and brutality and lies is that it makes people not trust the party, which apparently should be in charge of the new constitution (and I do not like the constitution and I do think Turkey needs a new one, perhaps modeled off of Azerbaijan’s?)
- “amid a slowdown in reforms” The AKP calls them “açılımlar” (“openings”), and outside of the ones related to shoving more religion and capitalism down everyone’s throats, nothing has come of any of them. So a “slowdown” can’t possibly refer to less changes, but rather less announcements of intentions to change. I don’t know why anyone would want to hear more empty promises.
- “has given food for thought also to those who really know what “conservative” means” So the author is a Burkean conservative? How does that even theoretically square with who the Guardian wants in charge of the discussion of Turkish politics? Shouldn’t he be writing for the Daily Telegraph?
Shame on the Guardian. But fortunately it doesn’t matter much. Although allowing some “conservative” working for the garbage “newspaper” Today’s Zaman is really a recipe for covering the protests in Turkey poorly, even decent coverage by a mainstream paper couldn’t possibly do as much to inform you about the situation here as following developments on Twitter and Facebook.
PS: Because I have previously written mocking Foreign Policy for predicting the downfall of the Iranian regime based on Kulturkampf, I have to be clear that while I totally oppose the AKP government, I am not predicting their downfall (although some of my more optimistic comrades are, and I would love to be proven wrong). They are indeed widely hated, and in this neighborhood, almost everyone joined in banging pots and pots, honking horns, flashing lights, and chanting for Erdoğan’s resignation. But not everyone. The markedly religious were noteworthy in their lack of participation, and they are not a small contingent of the country’s total population. The AKP government will likely maintain power, although I hope they will become more fearful of the population due to the widespread anger which has been amply displayed this week. Even if most Turkish people oppose the AKP, the AKP is very well organized, whereas the opposition is divided. The AKP is still the single most powerful political party in the country, and that may not change by the next election, although I am hopeful that they will at least lose some of their seats and become a less powerful party. But it is important for Turkish people to stand up to the tyranny of the AKP in the streets now, because that is how change starts. The internet is not the real world, blogs like this one can only inform you about it, but if they don’t translate into real world action, they are useless.