Saturday, July 16, 2016

Erdogan Gets His Reichstag Fire

A man wearing a Turkish flag beats soldiers after they surrendered on the Bosphorus Bridge
Do not misunderstand. I'm not claiming that yesterday's attempted coup in Turkey was faked or staged. The weight of evidence suggests that it was what it appeared to be -  a badly planned and executed effort by one faction within the military.

But the weight of historical evidence is that the Reichstag fire also wasn't faked or staged. Most historians (though by no means all) believe the fire was what the German courts later ruled that it was - a one-man arson attack by a Dutch communist.

The parallel, of course, is that just as Hitler and the Nazis used the Reichstag fire to suspend most civil liberties, arrest opponents and consolidate power - quickly moving Germany from what was still a constitutional democracy to an authoritarian police state - Erdogan will use the failed coup for the same purpose.

Of course, in 1933 and 2016, both Hitler and Erdogan had already travelled partially down their respective authoritarian roads, although I would argue that Erdogan was farther along. Even before the coup, Turkey had one of the highest number of imprisoned journalists in the world, and Erdogan had already taken over the main opposition newspaper (and Turkey's largest) a fews months ago.

Erdogan and others in the government have claimed that the coup was a small-scale effort by a minority within the military. However, in response over 2,700 judges and prosecutors have been purged. Many of them and many others have been arrested. Crowds have appeared outside government buildings waving flags (including Ottoman Empire flags), demanding "death for the conspirators."

Evidence now suggests that many if not most soldiers involved in the coup had no idea what was going on. They had been told they were going on a training maneuver. A few hours later they found themselves surrounded and outnumbered by police and the mob. No wonder pictures and videos seemed to show them looking confused or passive.

And the mob acted like Muslim mobs act all over the world. It appears that at least one soldier was decapitated after surrendering. This happened on the Bosphorus Bridge connecting Asia to Europe.

Previous to this, Erdogan had far from universal support. Like Hitler, he needed the help of minority parties to win power. Even now a substantial minority, if not a plurality, probably oppose him - whether they supported the coup or not. But watching the Facebook Live videos last night from Istanbul and Ankara, 99% of those on the streets appeared to be male twenty-something Erdogan supporters, waving Turkish flags and shouting slogans including "Allahu Akbar!" as amplified calls to "resist" echoed from the minarets.

The secular opposition appears to be paralyzed with resignation and fear. And now the game is to show one's support for Erdogan and his "democracy."

Maybe things will go back to normal. Maybe thing won't be so bad. Best to keep one's head down and avoid trouble. After all, this is modern Turkey. It can't happen here.

This is how fascism operates, whether of the standard or Muslim variety.

Whatever one thinks of coups - and Turkish coups have never been especially benign - Erdogan's "victory" last night wasn't a victory for democracy, but rather another step in transforming Turkey into an Islamofascist state.

1 comment:

  1. maybe. or maybe they are really getting sick of his shit. Time will tell. Even if it was staged it's bound to make some brave enough to try again.