By Jane Louise Kandur
This is an open letter to those of you who criticize the situation in Turkey from the safe bastions of your ivory towers. Coming from four generations of liberal academics, I have read, heard and seen what you are doing before. And I know that no good can come from it.
You call for moderation. You accuse the government of taking a dictator-like stance, of being destructive rather than constructive. You shake your heads in worry over the polarization in Turkey. You claim that the people do not want to be led in this way.
I say to you: enough. What you are doing is no different than what the weak opposition in Turkey is doing. In fact, you are backing up their pathetic efforts to try to bring the government down. You are adding fuel to their fire of lies, propaganda and perversion of the truth.
Turkey is in a serious situation right now. Polarization is a real problem. But it is not something that has been created by the people who are in office at the present time. It is has existed in Turkey for many years.
Mild words, a temperate stance, an understanding nature WILL NOT solve the problem. There needs to be closure, apologies and forgiveness on both sides. The government cannot offer a moderate stance in the name of the people, for the very good reason that the people do not want this.
There is the claim that the government is whipping up frenzied support by using a diatribe that borders on fascism and which is no different from that of any dictator. You bring forth the bogey-men of Hitler and Stalin to support this accusation. What you have overlooked is that during the first week of the unrest hundreds of thousands, millions of people waited at home in silence, waiting to hear their Prime Minister speak. Waiting patiently instead of pouring into the streets to take back their cities. They wanted to avoid outright civil war. They stayed home and prayed. They stayed home and cried. They stayed home and wrung their hands in anguish. They waited for a message from their Prime Minister. And the message from the airport was “Go home. You are in safe hands. I have your interests at heart.” Relieved, assuaged, they went home. But they are still angry. They are bitter. They are furious. Erdogan speaks for them. This is what you are missing; his hubris, his high-handed manner is the echo of their voices. He speaks for them.
There, from you ivory tower, you cannot or will not see the masses. You cannot see what the majority of the people want. The people of Anatolia, as well as a majority of people in the major cities are proud and satisfied with their Prime Minister.
A democracy has to take in to account minority - even marginal – voices; a democracy has to observe the rights of all. However, the minority voice here offers no platform. It makes no concrete demands other than “Tayyip Resign” or “Don’t mess with our lifestyle.” Look at Brazil. The people there are demanding 1) better education, 2) better health services 3) better public transport and 4) the elimination of corruption. There are no such equivalent demands here – in fact, there cannot be, as these are all matters that the government is successfully dealing with.
This is where you too are in error. You make no concrete suggestions as how to improve things except for a pathetic plea for “moderation”. You make no positive contributions to the situation, merely criticizing, not showing a way forward.
If you are concerned about the problem in Turkey, do something about it. Get involved in politics, run for office and help make the necessary changes. Failing that, set up think tanks to advise the government how to successfully navigate these troubled waters. Rather than criticizing the tone of the speeches, write articles that include concrete suggestions as to what needs to be done. Climb down from your ivory towers and mix with the people. Do not suggest that a democracy has to trample the rights of the majority to satisfy a minority. And do not dare to suggest that the majority in Turkey consists of people with insufficient education to realize that the government is wrong. Do not have the hubris to assume that as you have an advanced education, that as you have lived in the West, you know better than they what they want. Please remember modern history, in which we have learned that minority-led intellectually-based revolutions never solve the problems of the people.