I suppose it was inevitable that I would be writing, yet again, about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water …
Why, I ask myself, am I so fascinated with the politics of Turkey and its president? The answer, I think, is two-fold. First, he is a western leader, a powerful figure on the global playing field, and a key player in the refugee crisis. A leader who has shown the world his thirst for power and his intolerance for opposition — a very dangerous duo. But secondly, I believe that watching Erdogan’s behaviour can give us, here in the U.S., some idea of what we might expect in the unlikely event that Donald Trump were to be elected to the office of president in November. Erdogan and Trump have many similarities, the most obvious being a narcissistic personality and a very thin skin when it comes to those who do not see eye-to-eye with them. They both lash out and threaten those who they perceive as their ‘enemies’, whether real or imagined. So, think, as you read this, about our own albatross, da trumpeter, and see if you notice certain similarities. What has Mr. Erdogan done now, you ask?
First, there is his stance on women. In a speech on Sunday in Istanbul, he clarified his view of women. Here, I think I will let his comments speak for themselves:
- “You cannot bring women and men into equal positions; that is against nature.”
- “Rejecting motherhood means giving up on humanity. I would recommend having at least three children.”
- “A woman who rejects motherhood, who refrains from being around the house, however successful her working life is, is deficient, is incomplete.”
- “In this country, for years, they [women] carried out the treason of birth control.”
In March, Erdogan declared the country should “develop its own unique values of gender equality”. Well, based on the above quotes, I would certainly call it ‘unique’, though I am not sure where the word ‘equality’ fits into the picture. It is reminiscent of a phrase coined in the early 20th century by Arthur E. Hertzler, a Kansas doctor who said “The only way to keep a woman happy is to keep her barefoot and pregnant.” I understand that there are cultural differences between the ideas of the west and, say, Asian, Middle Eastern, and African nations. But, Turkey claims to be a western-style democracy, so I do not understand how Erdogan can rightfully have such misogynist ideas.
On 2 June, I published a post, Of Miss Turkey, Genocide and Divorce, about the German resolution which, if passed, would label the murder or displacement of nearly all Armenian subjects living in Turkey in 1915 as ‘genocide’. Erdogan had warned that passage of the resolution would “ … damage future diplomatic, economic, business, political and military relations between the two countries.” Well, Germany’s Parliament did, in fact, pass the resolution last week, and predictably, Erdogan is … well, perhaps ‘unhappy’ would be somewhat of an understatement.
Erdogan lashed out at the German Parliament, specifically at the 11 members who are of Turkish ancestry, saying, “What sort of Turks are they?” He then called for each of those 11 to have a blood test to verify their Turkish ancestry! WHAT??? I did not realize that a blood test could determine ancestral origins! Now, as I said in the beginning, look for similarities between Erdogan’s rhetoric and that of da trumpeter, who has repeatedly questioned President Obama’s country of origin. Need I say more?
Turkey also recalled its ambassador from Berlin … no surprise there, and I doubt that Angela Merkel is either surprised or overly-disturbed by that move. However, what is disturbing is that Cem Ozdemir, one of the 11 Parliament members of Turkish descent, has received death threats since the resolution passed last Thursday. This was apparently a result of a ‘tweet’ by the mayor of Ankara (Turkey) naming the 11 and saying they “stabbed us in the back”. According to German media, it was retweeted by many Turkish nationalists, some of whom made death threats against Ozdemir, who was one of the initiators of the German resolution. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said he had also received many death threats from German far-right extremists. Again, can you picture this type of a response from da trumpeter and his minions? I can.
Further, Erdogan lashed out at Germany stating that Germany ” … should be the last country to vote on a so-called ‘genocide’ by Turkey. First, you have to account for the Holocaust …” The problem with his rant, of course, is that Germany does not deny the horror of the Nazi regime during World War II, and the Holocaust. Germany has worked hard to overcome the legacy left to them by Hitler, and continues to do so. Erdogan is trying to deny the Armenian Genocide.
Unfortunately for the world, Erdogan’s temperament and thin skin is almost certain to erode the EU-Turkey migrant agreement, and I cannot even begin to speculate at this time on what that will mean. Well, actually I can, but I prefer not to just yet.
I think that for both Turkey and the U.S., this quote by Turkish author Elif Shafak says it all: “If we do not speak up now, tomorrow we might lose even the rights that we take for granted today.”