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A very twisted tolerance
by Thanos Kalamidas
2016-07-25 09:27:00
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These last few days with two horrible, unthinkable events, aside to everything else, have taught us a lesson that no one wants to acknowledge.  The fact that our tolerance is in a very twisted crisis.

First of all media, governments and institutions celebrated that …democracy won in Turkey and a military coup lost and the second was that for hours the whole Europe was embraced in front another terrorist attack while it was a case of bullied man with psychological trauma in a shooting spree. In both case we were wrong, in most cases the truth was embarrassingly twisted and in both cases our tolerance misplaced.

Let’s start with Turkey. Turkey was always a democracy the Turkish way. But the west was happy as long Turkey was secular – therefore not another ayatollah state – and serving certain geopolitics that occasionally didn’t serve Turkey’s interests. For example when the elected prime minister was more left that the mighty powers – most of the time anti-communist, anti-Russian and whatever else included – would like, a military coup would appear, hang (literally) the prime minister and establish a convenient regime with the leader of the coup becoming president and a puppet politician prime minster.

However twisted it might sounds this game – because in the end it became a game – was repeated again and again throughout the years of the Turkish democracy. It became the natural next step for any politician who would dare cross the line. And for the ones that didn’t reach the higher seats there was always prison, torture and accident until they see the light. Midnight express never ceased to exist in Turkey.

ir01_400_01Well, there was a break. It seems that the army decided to look the whole thing in a more technocratic way. Confident that they can control everything from the background, getting a lot of pressure from the west and the same time seen a membership in the European Union as good business – never forget that the army in Turkey has also worked like the mafia, owning even industries and banks so they could laundry money – they let a bit more freedom and the chance to an Islamism politician to take the primeministerial seat. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was born for Turkish politics.

The west was happy always reinsured that the army will control everything from the background so the secularism of the Turkish state remains and there was a Muslim leader as a window to show everybody that democracy works and like Christian-democrats there are Muslim-democrats. But this is the first twist. How can you call democracy a country that you relay that the army in the background will guard politicians and in case of trouble they will interfere or at least they will never let it become trouble. This was a strange and very twisted compromise – regarding democracy – from the beginning.

Despite the old saying that power corrupts, I don’t believe that Erdoğan was ever a democrat. I think he played us all in the same old ways politicians have played us for centuries. Lies, promises, big smiles and manipulation. Erdoğan was never a democrat, after all he didn’t become a politician in democratic environment and his survival was depended in not democratic ways. Ηe said himself a few months before during the conversation about his increasing powers. He said there were other examples of its being successful. "There are already examples in the world, you can see it when you look at Hitler's Germany. There are later examples in various other countries." That was not an accidental slip of the tongue, that was how Erdoğan sees Hitler and the only reason he has avoided his name till now it is because he always needed to be political correct with the west.

I’m one among many often mentioning that Adolph Hitler came to power through democratic elections. What happened the day after …well you don’t need to go far, just check Turkey today. Erdoğan and two of his ministers speaking in national television and broadcasting in all Turkey emphasized that education is something bad, that university degrees lead to coups and treasons and that the good citizens are the uneducated. Consequence, the same evening bookshops and books were on fire in Istanbul. The same time tens of thousands of educators in Turkey they are either fired or held in prison. Their crime? Education. They were not soldiers, they didn’t hold bridges in Bosporus, they didn’t drive tanks or hold machine guns; they are teachers. The transmit knowledge. That’s what makes them guilty for Erdoğan, guilty for treason. And if you have read history you know that this was the first thing Hitler did when he came in power, he burned books. Then he killed or sent to concentration camps all his opposition.

Erdoğan has threaten that he will return the death penalty after vast demand form the people. Again this is a window. The death penalty never stop to exist in Turkey, it just had a different name, more acceptable to the west and political correct. It was called accident. In 2002, Necip Hablemitoğlu, a Kemalist historian from Ankara University, was killed in an armed attack near his home in Ankara. Unknown attackers. In 2007, Hrant Dink, an Armenian-Turkish journalist and editor-in-chief of the weekly Armenian and Turkish language newspaper Agos in Istanbul, was shot dead in front of his newspaper's office. Unknown attackers. 2009, Cihan Hayırsevener, the founder and editor of the daily Güney Marmara’da Yaşam, was shot in a street of Bandırma, Balıkesir Province and died later that day at a hospital in Bursa. He had reported on corruption charges involving the owners of İlkhaber, another daily in the town. Unknown attackers. These are just a few examples of accidents. What did these people have in common? Erdoğan. They were people unveiling a corrupted politician and a dictator into making. There are hundreds more. There are thousands also that have disappeared or hold imprisoned in Midnight express prisons with accusations like “insult the president”.

But we tolerated all that. Because Turkey has democracy. I’m sorry, no. We tolerated all that because of Turkey’s geopolitical position, because Turkey has convenient bases, because for different reasons the west’s enemies are also Turkey’s enemies, because we thought that the army controls the democracy from the background and Erdoğan is a lapdog. Well he is not and now he beaten the army in the background he is becoming his idol, Adolph Hitler. But we still celebrate democracy’s victory in Turkey over a military coup sentencing the Turkish people to another dictator, perhaps the worst they have ever seen.

But let’s look the other incident that monopolized our interest the last days. A 19 year-old young man went to shooting spree in Munich, Germany, leaving behind nine dead and 27 seriously injured, most of them young people. After hours of been sure that ISIL had hit again, how many were the terrorists, waiting for the next victims and ISIL taking responsibility of the event with its followers celebrating, we found out that we had to do with a man who suffered from serious psychological problems and he was constantly victim of bullying. Actually and how ridiculous, there is a video on line that shows the shooter talking with neighbours near the incident and they bully him calling him names about his immigrant background while he tells them that he is German, born and bred in Germany. It’s so surreal that it actually shows clearly what’s going on this minute in the west.

ir02_400_01A young German – because German he was – with foreign ancestry – Iranian as we now know – with serious psychological problems a lot caused because the isolation and the bullying at school his ancestry caused to him started a “revenge” shooting spree that ended with ten dead – including himself – and 27 injured. The key words here are ‘victim of bullying’ and ‘revenge’ and perhaps through these words we might explain why there are so many young people, born and bred in Europe, a lot of them upper working class or working class, some of them with higher education and strong opportunities who left everything behind to join a extremist and murderous organization far beyond to everything they were used to. And religion is the surface.

The so much admired and praised multiculturalism in Europe has failed in the sense that while most officials and lawmakers were ready to show extreme tolerance, the people and the ones assigned to apply tolerance were never ready. On the contrary most European cities created ghettos sentencing people like this young German into isolation from the general society and the feeling of an unwelcome alien. European societies failed to intergrade, actually Europe failed to intergrade with multiculturalism and not the immigrants.

Best example is Britain after Brexit. While Brexiteers used EU immigration – mainly targeting east European – as their anti-EU excuse, after the referendum and Brexit’s victory they targeted without prejudice Indians, Pakistanis and Asian who had never anything to do with EU but with old colonies and the Commonwealth of Nations states. In fact Brits cannot do anything with immigrants from India, Pakistan, Asia, Africa or wherever else for the simple reason that the Commonwealth of Nations is there private club and they cannot stop immigration among the member states. So the last few weeks extreme elements of the Brexiteers have verbally and physically attacked British people with Indian or Pakistani ancestry, who have lived in Britain for 3-4 generations and some of them never been in their ancestors’ land demanding from them to …leave the country because they voted a Brexit from EU. How do you expect these people to react?

Furthermore - and I apologize for my cynicism - I was expecting something like that in Britain and not in Germany. Sadly that was my only surprise and not the fact that constant violence against immigrants has called violence.

To return to Turkey, EU and the whole West has a huge problem this moment. Erdoğan in the name of democracy has forced the west to accept and support his murderous authoritarian acts and now the west is exposed to the whole world as a hypocrite. How dare you talk to Putin about democracy when you pet Erdoğan? How dare you patronize the Chinese while you accept that Erdoğan is burning books next to educators? How can you accuse Mugabe for murders when you don’t say anything when Erdoğan arrests and threatens with death somebody because his is the nephew of his strongest opponent? How did you hunt Saddam for genocide when Erdoğan does exactly the same with exactly the same people, the Kurds? So is democracy we preach so loudly an a la card status to serve our geopolitical and economic interests? And what about Hungary, Poland, Estonia or Latvia. Are they democracies also? Is Viktor Orbán a democrat or another hitlerian dictator with democratic veil just like Erdoğan we cope with for geopolitical and economic reasons?

And what about our tolerant society that sentences a youth – which is European doesn’t matter its ancestry and this minute has reached more than 20% of the European population - in isolation, victimization and bullying?

This is very twisted tolerance and in a very twisted way both incidents are connected. Sadly, the first consequences were visual in Syria and the surrounding area, but they are coming closer all the time!

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Emanuel Paparella2016-07-25 10:06:43
Lucid and insightful reflections on our twisted geo-political economic logic. Indeed, eventually the chickens come home to roost when it comes to Democracy; they came to roost with the trial of Socrates, with the election of Mussolini and Hitler, with the election of Putin and Le Pen, with the possible future election of Trump. When tyranny arrives to the party it usually arrives in a democratic dress.

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