On Sunday, I wrote a post which mentioned that the Economist, usually a strong supporter of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (better known by its Turkish acronym, the AKP) had endorsed the secular opposition. “The best way for Turks to promote democracy would be to vote against the ruling party,” the Economist’s editors declared, citing the Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s authoritarian streak and his crackdown on the press.
In a reaction which would be a parody if it weren’t sadly true, Erdoğan has blown a gasket. It’s not just the Economist’s fault, the prime minister explained. In reality, it’s a plot by world Jewry. “These calls have been well-timed, because they show that we are on the right track. They cannot make any decisions concerning Turkey,” Erdoğan said. “This international media, as they are supported by Israel, would not be happy with the continuation of the AKP government,” he continued.
During Erdoğan’s tenure, Mein Kampf again became a best-seller in Turkey, books hit the market promoting wacky conspiracy theories delegitimizing Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, on the grounds that he was a secret Jew, and Erdoğan’s own wife endorsed Valley of the Wolves, a crude piece of propaganda suggesting Jews were exploiting the Iraq war to sell the organs of Muslims to Israel. When I was in Turkey this past November, I found copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in every bookstore I visited. Erdoğan’s media and education system has inculcated anti-Semitic conspiracy theories into a generation of Turkish school children and civil servants. The Economist got it right. Alas, for both the West and the remnants of Turkish tolerance, it is probably too late.