AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was originally written as a response to the New York Times Article “The Rise and Rise of the Turkish Right” by Halil M. Karaveli, published 8 April 2019 at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/08/opinion/turkey-nationalism-right-wing.html . As is to be expected from the main (lame) stream media, they would not respond to my critical letter. This is why I am publishing it here after adding a few football-related items to it for context.

 

A recent New York Times piece makes a few points which might have a few long-time observers of the Turkish political scene—like myself—raising their eyebrows. Mr. Karaveli’s description of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) coalition with the IYI Party as “another version of the right-wing nationalism of the ruling coalition of the A.K.P. and the M.H.P” misses the point on many levels. First of all, to characterize the CHP as “right wing” ignores the fact that it is—even if nominally—officially a socialist party. Second of all, the A.K.P. are hardly a “right-wing nationalist” party as Mr. Karaveli claims. Rather, they are a globalist party focused on adhering to the values of neoliberal capitalism (something that Mr. Karaveli himself admits) while packaging it as “nationalist” so as to appeal to their mainly rural and socially conservative base.

Mr. Karaveli further makes the bold claim that this election is “no victory for liberal values”. If that is indeed the case, then one would have to ask Mr. Karaveli what his definition of “liberal values” are. If he is referring to globalist—and ultimately (neo)liberal values—then he would be correct. The elections in Turkey, as Istanbul’s opposition Mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu stated, were not about Syria but about who would be collecting the trash on the streets of Istanbul. In short, these elections were a rebuke of the globalist neoliberal policies of the AKP government which have brought Turkey to the brink of economic recession. These elections also saw an informal alliance between the Kurdish HDP and Kemalist CHP, showing a broad rejection of the polarizing divisions fostered by the AKP on the basis of identity politics since 2002. Again, the author’s comments regarding “liberal values” seems to miss the mark.

The fact that the AKP refused to accept the results—and were asking for a new election–is a direct threat to the democratic process in Turkey. By presenting Turkey’s opposition in such a flawed manner, Mr. Karaveli is doing no favors to those who voted for a positive change in Turkey. As it stands, this piece grossly misrepresents the Turkish political landscape to readers of the New York Times, and poor quality reporting—like this—might be one reason that U.S. President Donald Trump has taken to calling the New York based paper “the failing New York Times”.

Indeed, Mr. Karaveli might have done well to look to the football stadium in order to understand the kind of widespread support that Mr. Imamoglu has received from football fans—especially those who could hardly be classified as “right wing”. While Mr. Imamoglu received his official mandate as the Mayor of Istanbul on April 17, ending 15 years of AKP rule in the city, this past weekend saw the Mayor-elect take in some local football including the Besiktas-Baskasehir game as well as the Istanbul derby between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. At the Besiktas match, the fans—who are generally a left leaning crowd—chanted Mr. Imamoglu’s name, especially when the stadium’s loudspeakers attempted to drown out their chants—and called for the new mayor to be given his mandate. Before the Istanbul derby, CNN Turk was unable to block the voices of Fenerbahce fans who were chanting their support for Mr. Imamoglu. This kind of grassroots support for the new mayor is not unprecedented, indeed Galatasaray fans were seen in the subways chanting pro-Imamoglu slogans in the subway before their cup tie against Yeni Malatyaspor last week, while fans of Artvin Hopaspor in far eastern Turkey near the Georgian border were also recorded in the stadium calling for the Istanbul mayoral election results to be validated.

 

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The New Mayor Wishes All of Istanbul’s Teams Luck From Besiktas’ Stadium. Image Courtesy Of: https://halktv.com.tr/spor/taraftar-mazbata-nerede-diye-sordu-muzik-artti-stadi-inlettiler-390720h

 

Given this kind of support from the stadium—a place well known to harbor people from a variety of ideological and class backgrounds—it is clear that Mr. Imamoglu is not the “right wing” nationalist that the New York Times has attempted to portray him as. One truly has to ask what the value of the main stream media is when they attempt to spin every development to fit the globalist narrative of open borders and (neo) liberal globalism. Politicians are elected to serve their communities, their cities, and—ultimately—their countries. This is the reality, and to deny it—as the New York Times continually attempts to do—is dishonest at best and, at worst, represents a dangerous type of fascism that refuses to acknowledge any political developments which deviate from the constructed narrative.