Milkman and police
Last Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, demonstrating once again his great skill in yelling, that he described as a form of elocution and the democratic nature of his mentality, told media bosses that they should fire writers he blamed for economic and political tensions in the country.
“Now, I am addressing the bosses of those newspapers… You cannot say: ‘What can I do? They are columnists and I cannot hold sway over them.’ You will say, ‘You are responsible for this, my friend.’ Why? Because nobody has the right to create tension in this country, [to] create tension in the economy. We will not permit that… The columnists can criticize me, that is their right… However, I have to make my warning too, because everybody should know their place and status very well… Everybody is free to express their opinions. That is all very well. But there are things that are established. Of course, it is free, say the right [things]. However, then the ones who gave those people their pens need to say: ‘Excuse me, brother, there is no place for you in our store.’ Because everybody puts in their showcases the ones who deserve it.”
Naturally the prime minister came under bitter attack, even from some columnists who generally have been very supportive of him, because of such an outpouring of anti-democratic and rather autocratic demands from the media bosses. One of the biggest allegiant newspapers, however, did not waste the opportunity and rushed to the help of the prime minister with an article in its Monday’s edition saying Erdoğan need not worry with “those journalists and columnists” and should leave dealing with them “to us journalists.” Sheer sycophantic attitude, is it not?
It is so unfortunate that the pressure on journalists and columnists critical of the government is acquiring a new and bitter dimension every day which claims to be a democracy and the administration vows to carry it to an “advanced stage of democracy” through some judicial reforms in the months ahead. The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, administration, in full conformity with their “sui generis” democracy understanding, which is built on the understanding that the majority can undertake everything in the fashion it wants because being in the majority means having the support of the majority of the people and that democracy is rule by the people, for the people.
Thus, time has perhaps come to silence the media. Perhaps that is why the prime minister has stepped up his “democratic yelling” on the media and has gone to the extent of asking media bosses to fire writers if the government is unhappy with their articles.
Winston Churchill had said “Democracy means that if the doorbell rings in the early hours, it is likely to be the milkman.” Erdoğan might get angry and perhaps ask this writer be denied space in the Daily News, but, in today’s Turkey, either the democracy description of Churchill is wrong, or there is no democracy here at all as no one can confidently say that probably it is the milkman at the doorstep should the doorbell ring in the early hours.
Wild speculations are continuing in the articles of some neo-liberal and Islamist penslingers, heralding that a third wave of house searches and arrests, this time on “civilian members”, might be imminent in the probe on the so-called “Operation Sledgehammer.” There is a sense of celebration in those articles. One need not need to read in between the lines to develop an idea which “civilian members” might soon be taken in.
Who might be those detained in the “civilian wave” of the “Sledgehammer”? Are they the “journalists” listed in that famous serial in a neo-liberal newspaper as “journalists to be utilized” by the coup plotters? Does the list of to be detained “civilian members” include the so-called “cabinet list” published in the same paper? Even though almost all alleged would-be members of the “coup cabinet” since then have appeared in front of cameras and flatly rejected any connection with a coup plot, perhaps the benevolent prime minister would like them to disown in courtroom testimonies as well collaboration with coup plotting geriatric generals.
Well, past experiences during the various waves of detentions and arrests in connection with the Ergenekon thriller have shown that at least some of these neo-liberal and Islamist penslingers have developed a rather interesting instinct that has enabled them to report who might be taken in and who might be left out several days in advance of police knocking on the doors in the early hours of the morning, often before dawn.