Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Beautiful West: You're Doing It Wrong

Nope, not working.

Like most countries, Turkey's relationship with the West, and the US in particular, is very fraught. I don't mean officially, as in the countries' foreign relations (though that is not without its dramas). I mean in how people view the West and think about the West and deal with the West.

Turks think about America way more than Americans think about Turks. It's impossible for someone not to have some sort of the stance on the US and the West. Even not having a stance is a stance of sorts. America is the root of all evil and the coolest place on Earth, often in the same breath. The source of information on both extremes is spotty at best. As for the rest of the West, who cares? It's just all one big, homogenous mass anyway, right?
Nice, but indecipherable for me.

When Atatürk pushed Turkey to modernization, it mostly took the form of Westernization-- Western
calendar, Western alphabet, Western clothes, with laws and a system of government based on the West. There were other things. I'm not a historian. I'm kind of bummed about the fez. Of course all this clashed in some way and became distinctly Turkish, and it continues to do so.

It seems to be working out, for the most part. Not always, but a lot of the time.

Not yummy, be sure.
Of course, there are times when the emulation misses the mark. One thing I hate in Turkey is going to tourist places where the hotel or whatever is trying to be Western. They never quite get it "right." The people working there don't like it and sneak in as many chances to be Turkish when they think no one is looking. These attempts to be "Western" are a bit sad, to be
honest. It's like there's a tacit understanding that the Turkish way isn't good enough, except no one but the tourists are buying it. Turks are self-effacing about being Turkish and proud of being Turkish, all without a hint of cognitive dissonance, and this pretending to be Western doesn't work with that.

Consider this womb occupied!
Lately, it's the West as it appears in political rhetoric that's started pissing me off. Whenever someone in power wants to do something obnoxious, they're able to cite an instance of how they do it like that in the West. They've always done it, these politicians, but lately it's especially been rubbing me the wrong way. "We want to ban abortion. And look! Abortion is banned in the West!" Yeah, okay. There are places where abortion is banned and limited, but there are a lot more where it isn't, and even where abortion is a non-issue. "We want to limit drinking in all sorts of ways, and look! It's limited in the same ways in the West!" What makes it worse is that when they want to do something (and you know by the time you hear about it, it's more or less a done deal), they always want to do it more and better than the West. "Let's raise the drinking age to 24! It's 21 in the US so we're doing it way better than they are!"

You *must* give me your recipe, Miss Hannigan!

I'm really glad Tayyip and his boys seem to lack specific information about America, like that we have dry counties in some places. Otherwise we could kiss booze goodbye.

Same for the tear gas. Tayyip has already reminded us several times they use tear gas in the West. There's a thing floating around FB (I can't confirm its veracity) that twice as much tear gas has been used in Turkey in the last 13 days since the protests began than was used in all
of Europe in 2012. So, yay Turkey! Good job, fearless leaders. You sure showed the West how its done. We're all ever so impressed.
Clouds of gas make Western dicks feel small.

And remember how LE was supposed to start first grade last year, at the tender age of 5.5? "This new education system we're shoving down your throats, it's the same as in Europe so that makes it great and ours is even better!" I mention the 4+4+4 education thing only because of its noticeable absence in all the press talking about all the things people are fed up with. Sure, environmental destruction and creeping Islamification of daily life and World War III are a concern, but so is fucking our kids with a poorly-planned and shabbily executed education system. And once politicians here use the West to justify a dumbass decision, you know it's time to get suspicious.The goal of the new system seemed to be, as it turns out, a
way to start religious education sooner. Plus a bunch more religious crap got stuck into the curriculum for all ages. Regular state schools get turned into state religious schools with little or no warning.

It was around this time Tayyip started talking about the pious generation. Not that he's been capitalizing on religion to turn folks against each other or anything.

And here's where the whole thing of "looking to the West" when it suits someone pisses me off. For one thing, it assumes people are doing nothing but gagging to be like the West. You aren't sure you like some bullshit AKP is suddenly pushing through Parliament? But wait! They do it in America! Don't you want to be like America? C'mon! Everybody wants to be like America, even this great nation of Turkey.

Except what people know about America is not very much. The guy at the Tekel the other day was asking me if they have such laws in America about drinking, and I was all, "Yeah, I guess. It depends. It changes by state and city. Some places are less restrictive and some places are more restrictive." I gave him some examples. I realized how silly it sounds, how you can buy whatever the fuck you want from a grocery store in California, while in Oregon, you can only get your hard liquor from a liquor store during certain hours, and in Maryland, even the beer and wine are locked up in supermarkets on Sundays. It's an annoyance, but it doesn't make anyone worry about civil liberties much. You know why? Because America isn't Turkey, not by a long shot. Beer and civil liberties don't equate in the States, but they sure as fuck do here.

We give good boob.
This deep-seeded American Puritanism isn't widely known about outside the States, but it's actually why our ginormous American boobies are so popular throughout the world. We're capitalists above all, and don't waste time covering the sacred, secret boobies when they can be sold for so much money.

Do we limit abortion in America? Sure we do. We also have domestic terrorists that murder abortion doctors and bomb clinics. Are you sure, Turkey, that you want people to develop these strong feelings about abortion?

And this cop?

Apparently he's meme famous and I missed the whole thing. He got fired after he did this, and the students got a shitload of lawsuit money. You can be sure that very little cop-firing and lawsuit money will happen here once this protests come to whatever end they're going to come to.

The thing is, sometimes, a lot of times, trying to be like the West doesn't work. It assumes people are ignorant, makes the leaders look ignorant, and makes it seem like Turkish people are starry-eyed chasing after something that they're, in fact, not particularly interested in.

Jeez, Obama, didn't you throw anyone in jail over this? The West is so confusing.
Okay, I admit I'm happy about the alphabet thing, As for legislation, Europe and the US and their varied countries, states, counties, and municipalities arrived at their silly laws about drinking and abortion and boobies and whatever else through an entirely different set of circumstances, both cultural and social. These laws didn't appear overnight. To an American, the fact that someone wants to ban the sale of alcohol from shops during certain nighttime hours is kind of meh. To a lot of Turkish people (and not just secular people), this is another brick in the wall.

What is the wall? Who knows? But it looks kind of dark.

And it's hard to explain if you don't live here.

Open Letter To Tayyip:
But I *love* the jacket.
Dear Tayyip,

Quit using my country as an excuse for your bullshit. It takes a lot to make me get all defensive about
America, but you've done it. Congratulations. If you want to use America to justify something, at least choose something good we have, like bacon and free(ish) speech and microbreweries.

Sevigler saygılar,


Open Letter To America:

Dear America,

You can keep your plastic boobs, however.
Try using Turkey as an excuse next time you come up with some bullshit legislation because it would be hilarious watching Tayyip sputter his indignation. Also there are some things in Turkey you should have, like intermissions in movies and socialized medicine and pistachio nuts that have salt on the nut but not on the shell.




MarthaD said...

Great posting. I love reading your blog.
So convenient for Tayip to use and blame others---it is the old trick after all. He has been working on his brand for over 10 years and it all disappeared in one night.
Thanks for the analysis and be safe!

Claudia Turgut said...

You are just wonderful. That jacket did it for me too.Where we are going now, none of us quite know. I feel fiercely proud of the young ones out there...

Stranger said...

Me too, Claudia. I always knew they had it in them.