It’s Thanksgiving here in the US, so naturally I’m going to avoid the kind of turkey with tryptophan and instead talk about the kind with Erdogan. He’s pretty much the opposite of sleep-inducing. Erdogan added another 15,000 people to his post-coup-attempt mass purge this week, bringing the total to one-eighth of a million people, 36,000 of whom are imprisoned.
Americans seem to be paying little attention to this in light of problems at home, but I think we need to be alive to it. This is what purges look like in the world of the surveillance state, and if such things come to the United States, they will look very similar. This isn’t just party officials, high military officers, and the like, as we might have seen in a mid-20th-Century purge. Erodgan has purged secondary school teachers and midwives.
Any public employee who has expressed anti-Erdogan sentiment, or associated with Kurdish organizations, appears to be vulnerable. And because this is 2016 and not 1950, the Turkish government can easily identify and punish even the lowest-level dissenters.
Turkey’s population is slightly less than 1/4 that of the US. Imagine half a million public employees fired for having the wrong opinions. We like to think that couldn’t happen here, but we have to be sure not to let it.