Why and how it happened: In a chameleon’s column

Why and how it happened: In a chameleon’s column

This is what one of the most militantly pro-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan journalists wrote in his column on Nov. 27, 2013:  

“It is halal [religiously permissible] that the ‘Soldiers of Service’ [Gülenist ‘Service’ movement] take jobs in the state bureaucracy. I have been one of the people who ferociously fought those Ergenekonists [allegedly pro-coup secularists] who claim the ‘cemaat’ [the Gülenist ‘community’] has infiltrated the state … I have been insulted awfully for defending Service’s rights. Service members do not infiltrate, they join government service and work in every position as they wish. 

“[Secular coup-plotters] wanted the Soldiers of Service and [other] pious people outside the government service. [In their opinion] only the secular, Kemalist minority had to be in government service.
“The Soldiers of Service have had a great share in the uprising against the [old pro-tutelage] regime … I was even called a [Gülenist] because of the struggle I fought … [The Gülenist struggle] was the righteous struggle. 

“[Addressing Fethullah Gülen] You are the only person who can, with one single move, end the current problems.” 

And this is from the same columnist on July 26, about two-and-a-half years after his generous praise for “Hocaefendi,” as his admirers called Mr. Gülen:  

“The danger of [the Gülenist movement] is not over yet … We all must focus on [the Gülenist terror organization].  

“These [Gülenists] are not human beings, they are robots … These inglorious [Gülenists] have no sense of homeland. These robots only know of worshipping Fethullah [Gülen, whom the columnist refers to as a schizophrenic psychopath]. 

“The [Gülenist] threat is still here and these [Gülenists] can kill all around the country. For that reason, urgent and very hard measures must be taken. 

“These robots can be disguised as teachers, journalists, grocers, vegetable sellers, soldiers, policemen, academics, civil servants, workers or businessmen, but all of them are terrorists who have the potential to blow themselves up upon an order, and they all should be interned without exception. If you have mercy for them you will need mercy like on July 15 … On the [Gülen] issue there has always been evil when there was mercy.  

“… Everyone who tries to protect the [Gülenist] robots is a traitor and shall be arrested.” 

This account, minimized into excerpts from two columns of the same columnist within a span of less than three years, is in fact the brief anatomy of why and how we had July 15. For the pro-Erdoğan camp, the Gülenists were the useful idiots; for the Gülenists, Mr. Erdoğan’s government was the useful idiots; and for both camps pro-government liberals were the useful idiots. Probably all of them were right in diagnosing the useful idiots.  

The alleged coup-plotters of July 15, over 60,000 government officials purged, over 10,000 arrested and others now the target of a witch hunt are, without exception, those who were appointed by Mr. Erdoğan’s government because they were viewed by the pro-Erdoğan political machine, including the columnist quoted above, as “pious people who will help us in our quest to crush the secularists and advance the pious.” Funny, the Islamists were in an alliance against secular coup-plotters, until one camp of Islamists plotted a coup against the other. 

Consistent or not, the pro-Erdoğan media always produces amusing material. Re-read the line: “[The Gülenist struggle] was the righteous struggle.” And this one, too: “[Secular coup-plotters] wanted Soldiers of Service and [other] pious people outside the government service.” So, you the pious, suitably had “pious” people in the government service against “secular coup-plotters” and ended up with what looks like the silliest coup attempt in modern history. 

Well done. The Turkish Islamists, too, now have their own Trotsky and Stalin story.