Sunday, June 30, 2013

They're Not Going To...

Claire Berlinski is the author of my favorite biography of Margaret Thatcher: There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters.  She's also an investigative journalist, and lives in Istanbul, Turkey – just four blocks from Taksim Square, the epicenter of the current disturbances there.  As you might expect, she's been reporting in mainstream media – with the unique perspective of an alien long-time resident of Turkey.  In the latest piece I've read, her concluding paragraphs:
According to legend, when the great historian Robert Conquest was asked if he wanted to rename the updated edition of The Great Terror, his history of the Stalinist purges, he replied, “How about, I Told You So, You F***ing Fools.”

And that’s what I’m saying now to every single lazy journalist and policy wonk, professional sycophant, diplomat and idiot pundit who’s never so much as visited this place, the duly-funded social scientists and craven Western politicians and everyone else who for years swallowed Erdoğan’s nonsense and helped to manufacture the fantasy that Turkey was getting more and more democratic by the day.

Only months ago, not an hour went by without some dimwit churning out an article about the economic and the reformist wonders of the AKP and its newly-emerged Anatolian middle class, the magnificent result of the AKP’s mix of moderately-Islamist daddy-state, fiscal discipline and free-market economic policies. One of the best performers of its kind in the world, a model for every Arab who felt like springing, the blossoming of Turkey’s open society, proof that Islam and democracy can mix just fine. Now, I have no idea if Islam and democracy can mix just fine. Maybe they can, maybe they can’t. But I can tell you one thing for sure: authoritarianism and democracy can’t mix just fine. And this was just obvious, blindingly obvious, years ago.

I have no idea what will come next, now that things that have been overwhelmingly apparent for the past decade are finally getting attention and coverage in English. But this I do know: There are real people here. They are not pawns to be moved about on a geopolitical chess board. They are not subjects for fashionable tales told by people climbing up the greasy pole of their careers in the West. They could use some honesty from the rest of the world, because they’re sure not going to get it from their government or their media and they know it. So if you had any part in creating this situation, whether by cheering the rise of this authoritarian government or promoting the fantasy of Turkey’s advanced democracy and this nonsense about it being a model Muslim nation, go look at those photos of the kids with no eyes. Then get down on your knees and ask God to forgive you—because those kids, they’re not going to.
Read the whole thing...

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