Mişmiş or A case of double hearsay

Lately there has been one hell of a disturbance in my napping. I get home from work at 6, and I typically sprawl out on my couch after a day of sitting and staring at the wall, and pass out for a half hour to an hour while I listen to Martha Stewart explain how to butcher a pig or make a home-made leather apron for gardening (you can wipe them clean!)

Because its been hotter than hell, I like to crack the window, especially before the bugs get going. But, for the last month or so, my napping has been rudely interrupted by the incessant blaring music coming out of giant vans with huge speakers mounted on the roof: Electionmobiles. Shoot me. Please?

There is a national election here in Turkey on June 12, so now in addition to the call to prayer, I have the slogans of the AKP, CHP, MHP, BDP, HAS, the SDP, a marginalized socialist-leaning party with a blue flag with a dove–more like a girl-scout logo than a political slogan. All this campaigning is making me grouchy.

While discussing this yesterday with my friend Sasha, who worked in Bartin (near Zonguldak, though that’s probably not helpful either) she told me of this AKP ad with a super traditional song. She loved the music, and has been humming it to herself as she strolls around Istanbul. No, that’s normal, I told her.

The AKP is the ruling party that is expected to decimate the rest of the field, possibly giving them a 2/3 majority needed to push through any legislation desired. And, while this happens from time to time in the good ‘ole USA, its quite a rarity here, in a country with so many parties. And, it kind of sucks when one party tyrannizes another. The words translate roughly to: “In the same way we are history, we drank the same water, one part of a summer, we are the same mountain breeze. Got to give Erdo some credit, even if he is a loony toon (please don’t sue me?)

The CHP is the former ruling party, its a the slightly more liberal, and significantly less religious party. The Economist recently wrote an article that called on the CHP to get their shit together to protect a number of social freedoms currently being cut by the AKP. It slammed the AKP for their recent attack on journalists, and restored my faith in western perceptions of Turkey, especially after having read this vomit-inducing cotton candy piece from the NY Times. In the ad, you hear the word “yasak” which means forbidden. The government just passed legislation that forbids a number of names in internet website domain names which include both the words yasak (forbidden) and nefes (breath), which coincidentally is part of the CHP’s slogan “Rahat bir nefes alacak” Take a fresh breath.

The MHP is the party I least understand, and their election song does nothing to help me understand them better. They’re the nationalist party, and were recently hit with a sex scandal (yes, they have those here too–though not as aptly named as Wienergate.) There is all kinds of speculation over who is responsible, but the fact of the matter is, the MHP was hit hard. And, while I am loath to support an ultra-nationalist party (especially as a foreign resident in this country), here’s an interesting article that makes a case for some support for the party if only to prevent said expected 2/3 majority that would be held by the AKP if MHP fails to secure the requisite 10% vote to keep their seats in parliament (their voters are most likely to swing to the AKP rather than other parties.)

What I love about the song though, is that its a mix of bad metal with rap. It sounds more like the background music to some summer thrasher movie than a campaign song for this guy:

No he's not at an Ozzie show, the devil horns are actually for his elite group within the MHP called the Grey Wolves.

In any case, Sasha and I were talking about this whole mess, and she sent me an article, where she was misquoted, after double hearsay brought news of her love for the AKP song to a less-than-thorough journalist (c’mon Turkey, its just sad really.) This is not the first time that Fulbrighters have ended up in the Turkish paper.

Back in November, a local lunatic in Karabuk published an article claiming that the 54 Fulbright teachers were actually… wait for it… CIA! She based this information on nothing more than the knowledge that there were 54 of us in small cities. The two Fulbrighters in Karabuk were hounded by locals who, in true Turkish fashion, latched onto the absurd conspiracy theory, and socially alienated them. Things only got worse when Milliyet, a national daily, picked up the story, and ran it. And, while the story was slightly better weighted, asking at least for the Rector’s input, it was a stupid, stupid article.

With the help of google translate (plus my own Turkish) this is more or less what the second half of the article said:

“Turkish people are hospitible, warm, loving and tolerant, I knew that, I also discovered that by living here. The 8th International Turkish Olypics official song “New World” song fascinated me. The emphasis on a new world based on love and peace was appealing. The AK Part’s fascinated and integrated advertisements said it again, “Love, unity and togetherness, nothing else. If I could vote in Turkey, this message would compel me to vote for AKP.”

Then there was something about slogans that I couldn’t figure out. I just love that she was quoted in this article, and while she may have said those thoughts about Turks for the paper, she specifically told her colleague that she would not like to be quoted in anything regarding politics, but as it turned out, it was too late. Since there doesn’t seem to be any kind of fact-checking department, Sasha officially supports the AKP…

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4 thoughts on “Mişmiş or A case of double hearsay

  1. The view from our balcony provides a birds eye view of colourful electioneering travelling vans blazoned with party political slogans crowned with giant loudspeakers. We’re serenaded by an ear-piercing mix of Turkopop and Soviet-era patriotic marching tunes. It’s all very jolly. The AK Party is flying high in the polls and victory seems assured. It’s the margin of success that interests me. A strong opposition is essential for a healthy democracy anywhere but the Opposition here appears fractured and ineffective. The AK Party may secure a sufficient majority in Parliament to revise the Turkish Constitution without recourse to a referendum. If Turkey continues to slip towards religious conservatism, we may reconsider our place in the sun.

  2. My students brought to my attention today the hacker group #Anonymous and their #operationturkey project (check it out on twitter), its a hacking group that is conducting cyber attacks on groups who support the upcoming internet censorship measures, as well as those groups who help promote censorship here in Turkey.
    Interesting stuff…

  3. Hello!
    I’m a Turkey ETA for this coming year, and I was wondering if you might be able to answer a few questions and give some words of wisdom about your experience. I don’t see an email contact here, but I’d be so appreciative if you wouldn’t mind shooting me an email: jmillershaw(at)gmail(dot)com. –Jenna

  4. Pingback: It’s all politics… until it’s not. « It's a blustery day in the neighborhood

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