One of the strangest things about my time spent in Turkey, was my geographic proximity to the Arab Spring uprisings. I remember having to constantly explain to concerned friends and family the fundamental differences between Turkey and these dictatorships. All Muslim countries are not created equal. And, that while I love to deplore the state of Turkish politics, it is true, Turkey is a representative democracy with a generally functioning rule of law. While Erdogan fancies himself indestructible and his power indisputable, it is not so.
I remember the day that Mubarak ceded power in Egypt. I was sitting on the top floor of the Istiklal Cd. Starbucks looking out over the street, feeling sorry for myself. I had just gotten the worst haircut of my life, and burst into tears every time I caught my reflection. It was like Justin Bieber was staring back at me. The horror.
I was on twitter when the news broke. Mubarak was stepping down. I felt ashamed of my ridiculous first-world problems. It didn’t have a hash-tag then or I would have been all over it.
I found that one of the hardest things about living during such a period was mitigating the horrors of the human rights abuses, the death, the destruction with life. There is nothing funny about people being beaten in the streets. We shouldn’t ignore it. But, we can look, with some cynical humor/shame, on the support many of these dictators received from the “great” nations of the world. I mean, remember Ghadaffi’s bedouin tent debacle in DC?
One of my closest friends in Turkey has recently started a campaign to support the Syrians. He started emailing a number of us a few months back about his plans to design and sell dictator mugs. It would be a set that could be bought, containing the faces of various, recently deposed dictators with quotes from their western supporters on the back. He corralled an artist to do the drawings, and with much support, he launched his idea. Putting aside his general aura of cynicism he decided this project should go beyond the general capitalist agenda (that is, make dolla billz), he launched a gofundme account and plans to put 65% of all proceeds from the project towards various charities working in numerous capacities to support the displaced Syrian populace.
I hope a few of you will find this project as comical as I, and that you’ll support not only the humor that carries us through, but also the Syrian people, who need all the love and support that we can muster. For more information, click the image below.