The rioting in Turkey has escalated to a state of proximate revolution. What began as a ‘sit-in’ to protest the destruction of the last park, the last area of greenery in the city, spread into a demonstration that has culminated in the injury of hundreds, and a direct attack on a dictatorial government. Are the events in Istanbul a foretelling of America’s future?
The focal point of the demonstration is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s regime. His dictatorial policies have been the underlying reason for the events which began in a park in Taksim Square. Although he has been successful in his economic policies for the Turkish people, he recently began to adopt policies based on his personal beliefs. He banned alcoholic consumption, and the display of public affection. And his vision of the nation’s future supersedes that of the people.
Police resorted to using water cannons, tear gas, and pepper spray. Demonstrators retaliated with stones and sticks. There have been injuries on both sides, and multiple arrests.
FOX news has given us a sampling of those who are among the protestors.
Beste Yurekli is an 18 year old high school student. She is shy, not someone you would expect to be part of a protest. She and her friend insisted on cleaning up the debris at the park in Taksim Square in the evening after the police tear gassed her friends and neighbors. Her goal us to study English Literature at university; “But not here,” she said. “Somewhere else. In another country.”
She is excited about the protestors, and the unity they are displaying. “It’s everyone. For the first time it’s everyone,” she said. “All of Turkey, we are united. We are one for the first time.”
Burak Sofuoglu is 30 year old international lawyer. The base of his business is in Istanbul. Right now, he lives in the park. “I packed a bag, I brought three pairs of underwear, eight T-shirts, two pairs of shoes. I go to the Turkish baths nearby to wash. Because this is my home now.” He’s determined to stay in the square for as long as it takes. “How long? That’s not our problem,” he says. “That’s the government’s problem. I am with my friends here. I can stay for years if I have to. We don’t like this leader. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has done bad things.”
Burcak Ongur is a 44 year old working mother. She has a catering service, and gives cooking lessons. But, for now, her business is with the demonstrators. She and her husband take shifts in the park. She takes food to the others during the day, until her husband relieves her. She then goes home to her 16 year old son, and 13 year old daughter. Occasionally her son will accompany her, but because there has been violence, she will not allow her daughter to be present.
“They’re aware that this is for their future,” she says.
The protesting has become a family affair. “My parents come too. They’re both over 70,” Ongur says.
“There’s a very diverse demographic here. People from all sectors, from all religions. And many different age groups.”
Elif is 59 years old. She says she voted for Erdogan, but now regrets her decision. She is a devout Muslim and wears a scarf. She does not feel comfortable revealing her surname.
“I used to support Tayyip Erdogan, but he was a hypocrite. He’s a liar,” Elif said. “I voted for him twice, but now I wish my hand had been broken” and she had been unable to vote.
Her health kept her from joining the protestors on the first day. She said she has fond memories of Gezi Park. “When I was younger I came here to have picnics with the children,” she said. “Now, all over Istanbul I just see high-rise buildings. I can’t breathe anymore.”
Erdogan, she said, “is trying to polarize people” with his statements saying the protesters were nothing more than common troublemakers. “But as you can see, every religion is here.”
Erdogan is not expected to leave office before the end of his term next year. He has reached his term limits and cannot run again.
Could the future of America be similar to that of Turkey? Probably not. The citizens of the United States are passive until a crisis has occurred, and then they band together to force action.
WWI, and WWII united the country against common enemies. The Nation as a whole understood, and were virtually unanimous in their opposition to the “Kaiser,” and Adolf Hitler. But we were divided during the Vietnam War, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
The favorability rating of our federal government is at such a low percentage, that, if they were baseball players, they’d already have been sent back to the minors. Whether we are Liberals or Conservatives, Blue or Red states, we all agree that government is broken, and they don’t represent the people of the United States.
They have become elitists. They live on large incomes, have benefits and retirement packages equal to those of CEO’s in major corporations. They are required to work an average of two days a week, but they seldom do. While major issues plague our country, they take vacations, and expect the American people to support them in their next election bid.
As is Turkey, so has become the United States. We are ruled by a dictatorship. We were created as a democratic republic. That no longer exists. Legislator’s votes are bought and paid for by lobbyists. It no longer matters what the American people want, they vote for whatever benefits them personally.
The Supreme Court interprets the Constitution based on the political party that gave them their lifetime jobs. For them the Constitution has become merely an old piece of paper, written by men who didn’t know what they were talking about.
The Presidency, once a courageous and powerful position, has become a mere figurehead. His purpose is to ensure his political party stays in power. Gone are the powerful and fearless men who led our nation through troubled times. The likes of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore, “Teddy”, Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, FDR, Harry, “give ‘em hell, Truman, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy are gone forever.
Politics has replaced good government.
Would I like to see the beginnings of a revolution as we are observing in Turkey. Hell yes. But Americans do not have the courage to stand up for what is right unless it affects them directly.
So, although I wish the events in Istanbul could foretell the future of America, I just don’t see it. We are a nation of courageous people, but only when we are forced to be so.
The Guardian Express