When talking to a Dutch Erdogan sympathizer, there’s a lot of talk about the establishment gets them wrong: how they translated a speech to make him sound more threatening, how they portray all Kurdish people as part of the PKK, how negatively they portray his leadership.
”My parents live in Turkey and if it suddenly became a dictatorship, I would have heard about it!” To him it seems that the establishment media has a certain political agenda, a possible influence of the extreme right-wing resurgence. A symbol of the growing bigotry towards Muslims. Erdogan has portrayed himself as a leader of all Muslims, some of his supporters even believe he will resurrect the caliphate, create a Muslim superpower. Turkey might have started as a secular project but this hasn’t worked out, and it seems that an Islamic foundation could indeed save Turkey from the violent chaos it seemed heir to.
Erdogan seemed so promising at first. In his first two terms he was defended by intellectuals from the west, seeing him as a prime example of how Islamic and Democracy could coexist. Somewhere along the way, things changed. Maybe the allegations from corruption changed Erdogan’s way. Maybe the delusions of grandeur as the leader of all Muslims changed his course for a democratic Turkey. Maybe he always has been the same. Nonetheless, he has played his hand well. Like Putin, like many smart autocrats, he realized the ancient truth that if you control the sources of information to the people, if you distort reality well enough, you might not fool everybody, but you will fool enough people. Creating a sphere of strength around him, something the people needed since many have been weakened by by Turkey’s constant search of a definitive national identity. Seeing as how the first few years he has brought positive change to the Turks, seeing as the Turks are still reeling from the trauma’s of the republic’s foundation, Turkey was ripe for a cult of personality. Buying media corporations. Jailing an excessive amount of journalists- Turkey has become the champion of this autocratic pastime. Learning a few tricks from history, enabling his own Reichstag fire with the 2016 coup. Controlling information sources to the Turkish immigrants in Europe…
So much so, that even this kind gentleman I’ve been talking to, has supported him, voting yes to a referendum that will give Erdogan unsurmountable executive power, making the promising country of Turkey just another middle-east Dictatorship. He has become victorious with over 51% percent of the vote, yet already allegations of voter-fraud has surfaced and despite the wishes for a recount, Erdogan quickly surmised that this is victory is the new reality. Riots broke up the same night. This will be just one of many dark days of Turkey looming ahead.
But I guess I’m like most people who wasn’t very surprised by this outcome. Over sixty percents of Dutch Turkish-Immigrants have voted yet, probably being swept up by the many who protested Holland’s actions of keeping out a Turkish minister for campaigning from campaigning, finding it hypocritical from a so-called democratic bastion- but it was a nice campaign boost for our current Prime-minister. It doesn’t matter if you throw in the facts about the hundreds of journalists jailed by Turkey, even the nice guy I’m talking to answers to this: ”Well I’m not saying all the journalists broke the law or that all laws have been just. I’m just not well up to date about the criminal law process process of Journalists… What I do know is that it’s complete nonsense that all journalists have been arrested because they criticized Erdogan!”
In our further discussion, I mentioned this again and he said he will want to answer it later. No doubt accumulating information to defend Erdogan’s actions. I posted human-rights reports, reports from Turkish journalists, even showed him the interview I had with Abdullah Bozkurt (which you can find in my article ”The importance of being vigilant: Understanding Erdogan and his Following) a journalist who had to flee his country from Erdogan’s agents. It doesn’t matter. This is how cognitive dissonance works; everything that goes against your vision is immediately rejected. You’ve surrounded yourself with information forces that keep you in line. This is how good people vote for tyrants. This how democracy dies.
It still disturbs that the obvious nature of this fiend, is still rejected by smart minded men. The same goes for the likes of Putin, who has too many Putin western sympathizers. The same goes for Trump, so hilariously unfit it becomes depressing that people still follow him. The same goes for Marine Le Pen, obviously bought and paid for by the Kremlin- wanting to abolish the double-citizenship except for Russians, meeting with Putin and hailing this vision of the world, opposing Russian sanctions, not to mention the loans she received from Kremlin related banks, how fucking obvious does this have to be?
It doesn’t matter. These tyrants have played with objective reality, they have caused a schism in the information feed, a tear in the landscape of information and some are one side, and some are on the other. You can scream all you want to the other side but even if they hear you, it doesn’t matter. It’s much easier to admit victory, than to admit that you’ve been conned.