When a political charlatan lacks character as well as imagination, a tantrum in the face of reverses nowadays is apt to climax with him spitting the epithet “Nazi” at opponents. “Nazi” is the go-to insult wielded by immoral losers everywhere.
The latest instance of diplomatic speech-decay comes courtesy of Turkey’s would-be sultan, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who recently lashed out at the Dutch and Germans, calling them, yes, “Nazis.” His successive outbursts erupted because the Dutch and German authorities would not allow Turkish politicians to hold rabble-rousing, neo-Islamist rallies on their soil.
The rallies were intended to encourage expatriate Turks to vote absentee in Erdogan’s one-man-band referendum on April 16th. A majority “Yes” vote would fundamentally alter Turkey’s government, converting it from a rough-and-ready parliamentary system to a “presidential” structure half a step shy of dictatorship.
Erdogan thought it would be just fine to have his henchmen stir up division and hatred on foreign soil. European governments thought otherwise.
Good for them.
Erdogan’s Muslim-Brotherhood-influenced program also aims to deter Turks from integrating into European societies. Unlike other immigrants, many Turks have been doing just fine abroad, bringing along a strong work ethic in their plastic suitcases. Germany has ethnic-Turkish authors, doctors, professors, media personalities and parliamentarians (one of whom once borrowed a pair of my shoes, but that’s another tale). For his bigoted part, Erdogan wants diaspora Turks to keep their distance from degenerate notions such as freedom of speech and association, free elections, women’s rights, tolerance, secular education…all the evils of the modern world.
At home, Erdogan has more journalists behind bars than China (including, of late, one German citizen). He has jailed tens of thousands of public officials, educators and military officers (he used last summer’s failed coup as an excuse for a massive purge of potential opponents). He’s been rolling back Mustapha Kemal Ataturk’s secular constitution at a breakneck pace. And, purely for political advantage, he re-ignited the conflict with Turkey’s Kurds that had seemed a thing of the past. He has killed his own people, barbarously, after cynically labeling them as “terrorists.”
He dreamed of a resurrected Ottoman Empire. When it became clear that the Arabs and other former subject peoples wanted no part of a new sultan and caliph who spoke Turkish, he reduced his immediate territorial ambitions to a chunk of Syria when he thought Assad was bound to fall (Erdogan has not been a savvy prognosticator of strategic developments). Now he’s stuck in a quagmire with an army he stripped of its best officers (a matinee version of Stalin’s predicament after he gutted the Red Army just before his erstwhile ally, Herr Hitler, invaded Russia).
Erdgoan blackmailed Europe with refugees, cozied up to Vladimir Putin to blackmail NATO, and he’s threatening a blackmail of base closures against the United State, if we don’t break our laws and simply hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living quietly in the Poconos whom Erdogan views as a threat to his one-man rule.
And then, last week, he labelled German Chancellor Angela Merkel a “Nazi.” Which is a bit rich, given that Merkel has been Europe’s staunchest defender of freedom and human rights, the perfect antithesis of Erdogan. But Erdogan does know how to insult a German.
As for the Dutch, they suffered terribly under the real Nazis three-quarters of a century ago. Calling the Dutch “Nazis” is as absurd, repulsive and insulting as claiming that Anne Frank served in the SS.
Surely, all civilized people can agree that the term “Nazi” should be reserved for the real thing.
What does one make of a head of state so irresponsible that he cannot control his mouth, insults would-be allies and violates the basic norms of decency? One suspects that his tenure as head of state will not end well.
This has been the week of the vernal equinox, the beginning of spring, when Kurds, Persians and others across the Middle East celebrate Nowruz, the holiday of light that marks the lengthening days and shrinking nights. But thanks to President Erdogan, Turkey is slipping deeper into darkness.