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July 26, 2012, Thursday

Writers and readers

If you write about politics, you have quite a difficult job. You will follow what “intellectual men” think about certain issues, you will watch political parties, those that promise more with each passing day, and read interviews with trusted opinion-leading academics, especially those that come out once a week in the newspaper supplements. You will read long articles about government operations and inactivity, about the party in power having huge successes in past years and needing to emphasize it.

At the very least you will follow their congresses’ flawless techniques, and if there is any time left you will appear on a TV show to debate the news. In light of this, it would not be a bad idea for you to leaf through a number of books. These are your circumstances, and you write your articles while thinking that the pieces will serve a purpose, and you work continuously to ensure the essence of your articles remains intact.

Such a “sweet nuisance” of a large readership has been formed that these readers come together from time to time and thoroughly scrutinize the author’s mindset; they very seriously argue and examine what the author wrote and what he did not write that week. Those in this group of readers meticulously research the writer’s content and then create a picture of the author’s agenda. They hold a set formula in their hands, and if you haven’t written something that suits their formula, they will bombard you with mail and complaints.

Here are the weekly criteria from the readers:

Criterion 1: To adequately criticize the prime minister and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

Criterion 2: To make sure you write a number of pieces on the Roboski Massacre.

Criterion 3: To be against the Kurdistan Communities Union’s (KCK) operations, and to want the release of Professor Büşra Ersanlı.

Criterion 4: To not insinuate the idea of “Come on, let’s conquer Syria,” what business do we have in Syria, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and this love of Ottoman times will get us into trouble.

Criterion 5: To cite academics who issue fatwas indicating that we are becoming more Sunni over time and have been overtaken by the fears we are all familiar with. (There are even readers who suggest that you feature people whose names have never been heard of and who do nothing but instill fear in people by saying things like we are becoming increasingly Sunni.)

The criteria don’t end here.

Criterion 6: To write on the Kurdish issue and to think not like Leyla Zana, but like other Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) members. (This criterion is especially significant. If you are among those who believe that there is a chance that the prime minister and the AK Party can find a solution to the Kurdish problem, even if you wrote twice a week on the Roboski Massacre you still couldn’t turn a profit.) Encouraging the people to be hopeful towards the AK Party and the prime minister is not one of the criteria.

Let’s not exaggerate the situation; there are of course sweet-natured readers, too. These readers have no such criteria. Even if they don’t agree with your beliefs, one sentence in your article or one word, they are still satisfied with it. However, one day some of the things you write, even on Twitter, may create a great deal of indignation. You will see sincere messages expressing solidarity, saying “Don’t worry, we are behind you.”

I can’t get myself to believe that any good will come of a reader who besieges the freedom inherent in the writer’s domain of writing and also sees it as their public duty. Because the current state of writing and reading is out of step with every enduring moral, readers of this type, no matter what, will not be affected by whatever you write. Once they’ve set their mind on something, they will not allow it to be changed. Any time you write they will doubt what you have written and wonder why you wrote it.

Professor Ersanlı was recently released, and I believe this is very good news. Coincidently without knowing she had been released I wrote a piece expressing a desire for the same thing and sent it to a paper. While on the way to the airport, I learned from the news on the radio that she had been released. Of course I was quite pleased and thought what a great coincidence. But the untrusting readers bet that because I had not written on Ersanlı earlier I had slyly waited until I knew she would be released to write my piece. They explicitly asked: “Have you ever written an article supporting Ersanlı before?”

“Yes, of course I did, actually I wrote two,” I replied. My response didn’t satisfy them and at the time of my last article they asked whether I had written my article because Davutoğlu had said, “I don’t believe Büşra Ersanlı is a terrorist.” I had written that Davutoğlu is not a grand vizier and that the prime minister is not an Ottoman pasha, so this would then automatically support Davutoğlu in whatever he says. How neurotic and untrusting some readers are!

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