Risking the wrath
Years ago, talking with one of the staff members from the Prime Ministry who was preparing daily media clippings and notes for the press advisor of the prime minister, I was shocked to hear they were mostly using “favorable” articles and news stories, mostly ignoring the critical ones because they were scared of the “outburst” of the “advisor,” as well as the premier, over such reports. That is the first impression was that not only the premier, but his press advisor – who still in some capacity continues his mission of disinformation – were living in a fairy world, unaware of most of the criticism directed at them. That was, of course, not the case. Thank god, while Turkey has some officious civil servants skilled enough to please their masters with all sorts of oddities, there were some newspapers, TV stations and radios courageous enough to risk the wrath of the absolute ruler.
Over the years, the officious servants at the press office of the prime minister did not change much.
Yes, the advisor changed, some staff changed, but the “code of conduct” remained much the same:
“Don’t tell the master (no longer the apprentice or the foreman) whatever he might not like!” Listening to a lecture on the deep background of the failed Turkish diplomatic overtures to convince Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad to a peaceful – at least relatively – transition to democratic governance in his country and complaints that those efforts failed because al-Assad and his top brass were so cut off from people they lost their sense of reality. “Scared of the dictator’s wrath, bureaucrats in Syria, as well as in Libya, were not reporting the bitter realities to their rulers. Thus, they were totally disoriented and lost the sense of reality. They could not understand the time had come for change; could not deliver the change and their countries plunged into fire…”
For one second, I closed my eyes and tried to remember what has been happening in Turkey for a long time: A bald, bold, tall leader yelling at everyone at every opportunity. People are scared of him. Bureaucrats are scared of him – his people are unable to report to him things that might enrage him. Constantly stressing he, but only he, knows everything and far better than anyone else. He has been the absolute ruler, not only on state affairs, but even personal issues, such as how many kids a Turkish family should have… Worse, everyone is scared of his wrath particularly after seeing thousands of civil servants who dared to investigate or not to obstruct the investigation against a massive corruption claim, in which families of some ministers are also implicated…Similarly, as if the duty of the intelligence agency is transportation for the prime minister, security personnel captured weapons allegedly loaded for Syria-bound trucks that later turned out to belong to the intelligence are all involved in “treacherous acts.”
Is it sane to condemn a graft investigation or the capture of clandestine trucks heading to Syria as part of an international conspiracy against the government? Obviously there is a fight for power between the ruling party and the Islamist Fethullah Gülen fraternity. Did they not know each other oh so well yesterday? Were they not in the same coalition against the Kemalists and secularists yesterday? Was yesterday not the same center for excellence in forging evidence at work against secularists? Do they think secularists are sufficiently domesticated, castrated and emasculated; now can they battle for supremacy among themselves?
The difference between the Turkey of yesterday and today is the decrease in the number of media outlets daring to risk the wrath of the absolute ruler by writing, saying or showing the truth… Risking the wrath of the premier requires more than courage; examples are abundant!
Is it not sad to remember Turkey at a lecture on how neighboring dictators were so disoriented from reality that they failed to understand the demand of their societies for change?