Although this is quite common over here in Turkey, there is nevertheless an altogether more astonishing phenomenon linked to this otherwise almost excusable behavior, ranging from domestic terror to economic dependency on multinationals, from global warming to obesity as an outcome of overindulgence in fast food, whatever turns sour and makes our lives more miserable, whatever occurs in the most deplorable format imaginable, incidents leading to loss of life: They all happen because America has a hand in it. Or so they say.
Not only this: There are people in this proud country who seriously believe that all foreigners are spies, that Washington orchestrates their each and every move and that the current government has sold the nation to the USA.
The interesting thing is that this gross misinterpretation of reality is found more frequently in parts of Turkish society that so arrogantly describe themselves as “first class” citizens. I have never heard such comments from members of the working classes, whilst visiting an organic farm or when talking with small and medium sized enterprise owners, or with the newly emerging Anatolian middle classes. The idea is spoken or written by people who hold at least one academic degree, if not multiple degrees. Hence, someone must deliberately have taught them what to (wrongly) believe in. In other words, if some people of the New Millennium seem to live their lives as if we are still in the 1980s, their past school teachers and university lecturers are the ones who taught them that this is the only way forward, or that “anything foreign is bad!”
When saying that whatever negative occurs in this country has been masterminded from abroad, people all too easily overlook that the country’s future is in their own hands. Yes, it is true to say that we are all intertwined, and the recent economic turmoil underlines this fact. It is also correct to say that when a catastrophe happens in one state the other nations must pull together and come to the rescue. This includes combating famine, helping after droughts (think Africa) or earthquakes (consider Japan), no matter how many thousand miles away these countries may be from our own.
This includes, too, supporting democracy in places where dictators, up until this very day, reign supreme (Syria).
Yet those who are against a strong Turkey, those who are afraid of a successful Turkey where one day soon everyone will have even more equal rights, where one day soon all citizens will benefit from equal access to first-class education (think the FATİH project) and where one day soon no female citizen will need to continue to worry about gender imbalances are the ones who want a “pure,” white, “Turkish” Turkey. What they overlook is that when something bad happens, including a terror attack, it may be part of a long-standing domestic dilemma in which past developments in this country are much more to blame than “external” interventions. Perhaps their very own ill-fated “pure” way of mismanaging the nation in the past is responsible for today’s conflicts, including many aspects of domestic terror, rather than long-distance imperialism at the hands of America or anyone else?
I am not saying that there are no spies -- I would think they exist in all four corners of the globe. Many of us will enjoy reading spy novels, too. Nothing wrong with that, of course (I suggest Graham Greene’s “The Human Factor” for beginners).
But putting the blame on anything foreign -- even innocent foreign landowners on the Aegean coast are accused of being part of an invasion aimed at destroying Turkey -- and in particular anything American is a practice that has reached dangerous levels and should be corrected. I put great faith in Turkey’s efforts to totally revamp its primary and secondary as well as vocational education systems. There must be updated textbooks and newly formulated curricula. Teachers must teach about today’s Turkey and today’s world, not yesteryear’s -- excluding in history lessons. A rose-tinted view of our world, that one country can go it alone? Of course not! Yet living a life according to the dictum that anything foreign is evil -- most definitely not either!