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The President Lied to Us

The President Lied to Us

We are living in a heap of abnormality. The abnormalities have been so rampant that they have effectively turned into the norm.

We must realize, however, that what we are going through is not normal, and the fact that we are treating it as normal is making our society sick. Any voice rising against the abnormalities is hushed because that’s “what the people want”, it is the “will of the people” and “a show of democracy”. Authoritarianism, populism and militarism are rolled into one giant ball of mess. And no one has, so far, been able to stop that avalanche from rolling down on us. What we must do first and foremost to deal with this situation is to recognize that this is not normal and remind ourselves often of it.

President Erdogan has recently objected to his son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who helms Turkey’s economy now, when he decided to hire Mc Kinsey as the auditors for the New Economic Program and its implementation. The McKinsey agreement was nulled as a result. There were, understandably, protests from within the AKP and its base for the government to hire an American company to audit Turkey’s economy -particularly after Erdogan’s hardline against America and anything American in the last few months. So what Erdogan did was, in order to face the protests, he dragged Ismet Inonu into the conversation.

We know that Erdogan mentions Inonu whenever he cannot mention Ataturk. And we know by now that when he talks about Inonu he is actually talking about Ataturk and the founding principles of the Turkish Republic. That’s one side of the equation. On the other side we have statements based on pure lies, and policies that are founded by the threading of those statements.

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So, this time, Erdogan appeared on stage with a photo of Ismet Inonu on one of his official visits to the US, where he is waving an American flag. So, he makes the assumption that since Inonu is waving an American flag, all CHP supporters are American flags. The US supports the YPG, so accordingly, the CHP supports the PKK. That’s what he was essentially saying. Soon after, Gulsun Bilgehan Toker, who is Ismet Inonu’s granddaughter, shared a photo of the same moment where Inonu is seen holding a Turkish flag in one hand and an American one on the other. That means that Erdogan, knowingly and willingly did not speak the truth, and instead chose a photo from that visit and manipulated it by lying to build an argument based on wrong pretenses. And it doesn’t matter what Ms. Toker has to say now, because Erdogan’s supporters listen only to him and no one else. For all intents and purposes, for Erdogan supporters, Inonu is a fan of America, and by proxy, the CHP is a supporter of PKK.

That’s the situation we are in. But it doesn’t mean that we have to accept it. This is not normal. It is not normal for a president to manipulate a photo of one of the founding fathers of this country and lie about it, and go further to declare that the main opposition party is in cahoots with the terrorists. This is abnormal.

There are many other abnormalities we face: that the Turkish economy is in crisis not because of 15 years of misguided economic policies by this government, but it is because of the Gezi protests; that we have to live under a totalitarian regime because of a dubious attempt at a military coup in July 2015; that the new regime is legitimized by make-believe stories of heroism of ordinary citizens stopping tanks and blowing whistles in order to disrupt fighter jets flying above. None of these are normal. It is time to shake ourselves up and come back to our senses.

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We are making fun of these abnormalities on the social media, we laugh at them, but we must realize that our country is in a total state of anomaly causing millions of lives to suffer for it.


Originally published in Turkish at:

About The Author

Nevsin Mengu

Born in Ankara in 1982. Studied Political Science at University of Bilkent. Did her masters on Sociology at University of Galatasaray. Worked at several news outlets like Haberturk and Hurriyet. Mostly covered Middle East as a correspondent. From 2009 to 2010, worked for TRT TURK in Tehran. From 2011 until 2017, anchored CNNTURK 18 o’clock news. Now writing opinion pieces for Birgün newspaper and doing weekly interviews for Deutsche Welle.

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