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Merry Christmas, Ricochet! Or Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it and, otherwise, merry day in which you eat Chinese food and go to the movies. To those I’ve offended by mentioning Christmas, I apologize for my insensitive remarks. I promise I will learn and grow from the experience.
Speaking of things one must not say, I just published a piece in City Journal about the recent news from Turkey. As I stress in it, it’s not just news from Turkey, but news from America — news from the Poconos Mountains, in particular — and thus properly filed under “domestic news.”
It’s normal that Americans view news from Turkey as less important than other stories in the headlines. After all, Turks aren’t doing anything quite so attention-grabbing as hacking Sony, destabilizing the postwar European order, or rampaging through the Middle East as they behead, rape, crucify, and enslave everything in their path. Thus, the reader who has noticed the news from Turkey might believe the story goes something like this: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the authoritarian thug running Turkey, has been rounding up journalists who bravely exposed his corruption.
That American readers now understand that Erdoğan is a corrupt authoritarian is an improvement. (They may vaguely recall that not long ago, he was viewed by the large parts of the Western intelligentsia—and by the very same news organs reporting the latest developments—as a liberal-minded reformer.) But this is actually a story about two thugs.
That double-thugged aspect tends to be downplayed in much of the reporting on the matter, which makes me a bit berserk: so much so that my City Journal editors rightly suggested I “tone it down” a bit. I am sure they were right and I’m sure I would have done so in their place. I guess the piece didn’t really need seventeen uses of the word “thug.”
I was a bit surprised to learn that we’re no longer allowed to use the phrase “oriental subtlety” in America, though. But if we’re not, we’re not. So don’t for a moment imagine that I might be the kind of person who originally prefaced the word “subtlety” with “oriental.”
Anyway, you can read all about it in City Journal. I’m sure that paying attention to the details of Turkish news is precisely what you feel like doing on Christmas Eve. (And, alas, I suspect very few Americans are paying attention to those details, where the devil is to be found, as usually he is.)
But — if you’re in a hurry to get back to your family and think about pretty much anything else — here’s the short version: to anyone who follows the news from Turkey, it’s obvious that the country is in the grip of a hysterical and paranoid power struggle between two thugs (Islamists both, of mildly different strains), and probably a number of other thugs, too. But one thing’s for sure: if you read an article on the matter that doesn’t mention at least two thugs, and stress that one of them — for reasons no one understands — is in the United States, it’s not serving you well. That there are two key thugs and many key details is not obvious from the way this story’s generally been covered. I think that’s a bit of a shame.
That said, some Americans, like Reuben Silverman — a graduate student in San Diego — do pay close attention. His blog is proof that it’s at least theoretically possible to mind these details carefully, and that doing so is not literally beyond the intellectual capacity of a Westerner. If a bright graduate student in San Diego can do this, I assume someone within the collective employ of Western governments can do it, too, and is. But I may be mistaken, because we are showing no sign of it.
This is unfortunate. So I did my best. Anyway, if the press had been doing its job, the tweet below would make you laugh until your eyes water. If it doesn’t, keep reading until it does. Because it will.
— Erik Meyersson (@emeyersson) December 22, 2014
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.