October 13, 2015

The bombing in Ankara and our national madness

Mustafa Akyol

I was in the United States and busy on the road when I heard the horrible news from Ankara on Oct. 10: A bombing near the train station, right in the heart of the city, killed more than 90 people, who were there to march for “peace.” The victims were mostly Kurds and Turkish leftists, who blamed the government for its war on the PKK, the armed and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party. But before anything else, they were human beings. They were youngsters and elders, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. May they all rest in peace. And may their murderers never find peace.

The moment I heard the news, I thought it is probably a work of ISIL, that so-called “Islamic State” of Iraq and the Levant. For ISIL had a similar attack in Suruç, southeastern Turkey, some three months ago. The victims were of the same kind: Pro-Kurdish, leftist activists. And the carnage was of the same kind: Suicide bombers blowing bodies into pieces, including their own.

Yet when I went to the internet, I found out that most of my compatriots were lunatics, as they lately have been. They were divided into two groups, with passionately conflicting conspiracy theories, but with the exact same conspiratorial mindset. On the one hand, there were the anti-government voices that were sure, “the government did this.” For in their mind, every evil in Turkey was crafted by the government, especially by “the Palace” (of the president), and put into action by “subcontractors.” ISIL was nothing than a “subcontractor.” It was not just the brainchild but also the handmaiden of the nefarious powers in Ankara.

On the other hand, there were the pro-government lunatics. For them, ISIL was nothing but a “subcontractor” of the evil powers that targeted their beloved government. Daily Star, one of the mouthpieces of the Palace, has listed them as the Assad regime, the PKK, the parallels (i.e., the Gülen Movement) and the “terror media,” slander they invented to demonize the non-pro-government media. Everybody that the president and his men did not like, in other words, was responsible for the carnage.

This is just a sign of the national insanity we have sunk into in the past couple of years. We are so hatefully and delusively divided, that even the most fundamental value -respect for human life- cannot unite us. We do not grieve for the dead; we just hate the living. The fallen become, in our schizophrenic minds, not a reason for mercy, respect and restraint. No, they become a reason for more hate, more division, more demonization.

Meanwhile, the real demons, such as ISIL, are operating around us quite freely. At a time when the authorities are obsessed with finding the “terrorists” in the kindergartens of the Gülen movement in a revengeful witch hunt, the ISIL cells in Turkey are apparently breeding real terrorists.

Intellectually, too, almost nobody is interested in understanding, analyzing, and pre-empting ISIL. Pro-government propagandists are busy with explaining it away as a Jewish/Anglo-Saxon conspiracy. Their mirror images on side of the opposition are offering nothing but counter-conspiracy theories. None of them have any real clue on what is developing beyond our southern borders and what is hitting us in our capital.

Alas, we are like a crowd of madmen fighting each other on a ship that is drifting away in dark and dangerous waters. We should find a way to restore sanity, before we hit rock bottom.

Published on Hurriyet Daily News, 14 October 2015,