Erdoğan’s almost ludicrous, repetitive attempts to hurt and insult us

6 Sep

(The following is an edited compilation of a Twitter thread of mine.)

Smyrna 1922

According to Hürriyet newspaper, Erdoğan stated that “a century ago we either buried them in the ground or threw them into the sea. I hope they do not pay the same price now.”

And I could shoot back with grizzly tails of the ethnic cleansing of Bulgarian Muslims by Bulgarian Christians and the Russians in the 1870s, or the almost complete extermination of Muslims/Turks (and Jews) in southern Greece during the Greek revolution with Kolokotronis bragging that he rode from the gates of the citadel of Tripolitsa to the main church of the city and his horse’s hoofs never stepped on ground because his whole way was carpetted by Muslim corpses, or how the Christian Greek/Albanian rebels roasted Muslim women on the spit. Or any other gruesome, inhumane episode of the the 300-year long contraction of the Ottoman Empire.

But I don’t! And the primary reason is not that bringing that stuff up will hurt Muslims or Turks. That comes second. Primarily I don’t because they hurt me. Because I’m revolted by those actions. I’m embarrassed by them. When I do touch on them, in writing or in personal interaction with Greeks or Serbs, it’s to make us face the complexity of the back-and-forth viciousness of our shared history and as a way to hopefully prompt people to think more critically about that.

Citing them with triumphalist glee — even if it’s to anger or hurt a jackass like Erdoğan — would be beneath my dignity and lessen me as a thoughtful and moral human being. But a self-important, grandiose, humorless, gigantic chip on the shoulder, overgrown barefoot street-kid, prole from Kasımpaşa like Tayyip Bey isn’t much of a human being. He’s a perfectly Turkish edition of Nietzsche’s man of resentment:

“For one thing is needful: that a human being attain his satisfaction with himself – whether it be by this or by that poetry and art; only then is a human being at all tolerable to behold. Whoever is dissatisfied with himself is always ready to revenge himself therefore; we others will be his victims, if only by always having to stand his ugly sight. For the sight of the ugly makes men bad and gloomy.”

I mean sometimes elaborate vocabulary or Nietzsche references aren’t necessary; the man’s just a dick — or “dek” as we say in Queens.

But…do tell him that the coast and river valleys of western Asia Minor from which they threw us “into the sea” had been put back to the plow, made productive again, reprospered and reurbanized by Greek settlement beginning in the 18th century.

Before us these valleys and coastlines, some of the richest and most prosperous and urbanized parts of the Roman Empire had lain fallow for centuries since the Turkic migrations into Anatolia, and had lain underutilized, winter pastures for nomadic Yörüklides…


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