The Government’s Dark Gardeners

Gezi Park, July 2013, Photo by Jenny White

Gezi Park, July 2013, Photo by Jenny White

Elif Batuman writes about Gezi in The New Yorker in her usual spare, colorful and insightful style. She talks about how after the riot police cleared the park, the government’s gardeners worked all night long to plant two hundred and two thousand new flowers, five thousand rosebushes, and a hundred and twenty-nine “mature trees” (fifty-two maple, thirty-six magnolia, twenty-one lime, and twenty oleander) in the small park. When the park reopened, “too many” people showed up, so the police drove them out with such force that a seventeen-year-old boy, hit in the head with a gas canister, suffered a brain hemorrhage. Dozens of people were taken into police custody. Young people are now being rounded up from their homes and dormitories and hauled off to jail under terrorism laws that don’t require the state to tell anyone anything about them — what they’re charged with, where they are….

And then there’s Yiğit Bulut, a former television personality who has just been made PM Erdogan’s new chief advisor. He stated that he believes the protests are a giant telekinetik attack by dark forces plotting to kill  Erdogan. (Really, you can’t make this stuff up!) One can imagine it as a kind of technophobia direct out of a Hitchcock film — Bulut imagining millions of social media users tweeting insults directly into the prime minister’s head to make it explode. It’s enough to make you scream.

7 Responses to “The Government’s Dark Gardeners”

  1. He stated that he believes the protests are a giant telekinetik attack by dark forces plotting against Erdogan. (Really, you can’t make this stuff up!)
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    Yes you can make this stuff up, since you or someone whose reporting you trust just did. What Bulut has said is bizarre and does involve telekinenis but it is not what you say it is.

  2. Bulent, what do you demand of Jenny (or of anyone reporting on this stuff)? Exact quotes? Why don’t you elaborate on how and why Jenny’s (or her source’s) paraphrasing is wrong, misleading, or unwarranted?
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    For Turkish speakers, here (click) is what the guy said.

  3. Nihat, you have shown that Bulut has not said telekinesis is behind the protests. What was the claim? “He stated that he believes the protests are a giant telekinetik attack by dark forces plotting against Erdogan. (Really, you can’t make this stuff up!)?” Is this made up? Yes. What further elaboration do you need?

  4. Bulent, the attribution you pick on just seems to me like a legitimate exercise in arithmetic as in putting 2 and 2 together, and getting 4. Besides, the ridiculous deserves the ridicule.
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    Many forces have been said to be behind these protests. The interest-rate lobby for instance. Now, AFAIK after the PM sat down with his economic advisors, we are being told it wasn’t the interest-rate lobby, but it was instead the non-interest-rate lobby that was the culprit. Oh, those pesky annual fees on credit cards, overage penalties, … You don’t know how much the banks are profiting from all that… There is especially one bank among them, oh boy… but I won’t name it because I am so very decent and considerate and responsible of a PM.
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    RT Erdogan said all that, did he not?

  5. No, Nihat, there might be a rhyme and reason behind the particular kinds of propaganda targeted at different crowds. In this particular case Bulut is dutifully pushing the “RTE is the target” angle rather than the ‘technophobia’ or ‘telekinetic protest’ thing that someone made up. That someone like Jenny who’ve been presenting people in the same line of business as Bulut as ‘respected people’ [and, at times, relaying their nonsense] would push a made-up thing as opposed to the original ridiculous thing while saying “you can’t make this up” is doubly funny on different levels.
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    Politicians and their sycophants tell lies — this is not a recent phenomenon nor is it unique to TR/AKP. Why certain lies get traction and why they are told need to be scrutinized to get anywhere. You can’t do that w/o accurate information. Ridiculing these people is a fine thing until you realize this has been going on for 10+ years [if it came as a surprise to Americans they can blame their info sources] and they have run the government here successfully enough to get increasing pluralities in all the elections.
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    This “interest rate lobby” talk has existed for a long time. Telekinesis talk happened as early as the time RTE fell off that horse, AFAIR. English-speakers are only now being told about these things (before this it was how non-AKP Turks were paranoid xenophobes and dumbos AFAIR, as opposed to the new talk about technophobe AKP people).

  6. Bulent, they don’t tell lies! It’s a narrative that they are telling, and the relation of political narration to truth is incidental at best. People buy into or reject these narratives out of their own volition. When enough people bought into a given narrative, we –I suppose– could say the lies and half truths that our given narrative comprised got traction. Imho, that is all there is to it.
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    Noteworthily, the Gezi protests precipitated a sudden change of the popular narrative, inside and outside of Turkey simultaneously. With that, certain lies and half truths –that you say are not new– are now being exposed and ridiculed.

  7. I think we’re in agreement Nihat, of course ‘lies’ is too bland a word. Mendacious discourse conducted by sycophantic intelligentsia or somesuch is probably more appropriate. Another interesting thing to watch might be how some American think tank people will change their tune (‘most respected narrative’ no doubt).

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