Like many others I have been watching with revulsion as peaceful demonstraters have been crushed by Turkish security forces. The fantasy of a democratic Turkey too often touted in European and American circles has finally been exposed by Erdogan's heavy handed approach to those who have the temerity to disagree with his vision of Turkey's future.
As the now almost extinct Christian minorities of Turkey can attest to there is no room for those who are different from the ruling elites. It is interesting to note that many who share in the Kemalist ideology of Ataturk now find themselves an out group along with other disenfranchised groups such as the Alevis and the Kurds. What goes around comes around.
Greeks were the first humans who gave considerable thought to the concept of freedom. As a commodity, it is much sought after these days, as events in Turkey attest to. Ordinary people are willing to endanger their lives in order to get a taste. In America, freedom has taken on the form of a religion. Our freedom, is unlike the freedom that the Greeks called "eleftheria, " that is, freedom from being tyranized, enslaved or being violated. No wonder then that when Turks pour into the streets in a culmination of years of such tyranny that Americans might have a little difficulty recognizing what it is these people want and our President can only mouth meaningless platitudes. To many Americans, freedom merely means choosing for oneself based on personal desires without respect to moral obligations.
In a nation that has few communal standards other than freedom, diversity and choice, increasingly, anything goes. In our evolving democracy, I say evolving because it seems to be changing before our very eyes, the state is assuming ever widening powers aimed at protecting our "rights." These rights are no longer those delineated in our Bill of Rights, which are trampled daily in the name of liberal altruism. They are maleable and ever expanding. The right to an abortion, free health care, a job, an income, with or without working, transportation, daycare, a college education, the right to vote regardless of qualifications and even the right to violate the law if you meet certain criteria. So if one enters the country illegally as an aggrieved minority or even "forgets" to pay his taxes before being considered for a cabinet level position, allowances can be made. The price of such freedom is a government controlled by a ruling elite that is no longer representative of a portion of the elctorate. You know, the one's that didn't give them their votes and must now be vilified and subjugated. Increasingly the massive apparatus at the disposal of those who run that government has been put to use by our betters to stifle, impede and erode the opposition. If you buy into their vision of the future you will reap its benefits, stand in their way and you will be swept aside like so much flotsam. No wonder Erdogan and Obama see the world in a similar fashion.
In this brave new world, security and safety are paramount. The NSA can gather up all types of information on innocent Americans in the name of security but border control agents cannot use profiling lest it offend anyone. It can cast its wide net on Google and Facebook but can't effectively use information passed on by the Russian security services. In so doing it manages to completely miss the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing while violating the basic privacy of millions of Americans. In the United States, increasingly political opponents are seen as the enemy. Tea Party members are subject to more scrutiny than radical Imams preaching Jihad. So too in Turkey, Erdogan's heavy hand is needed to protect Turks from outside conspiracies eager to destroy the regime. He calls upon his followers as if these other Turks in Taksim Square are merely a collection of terrorists instead of fellow Turkish citizens.
As we are finding out, elections do not guarantee freedom and those elected democratically do not always behave so. Increasingly elected governments seek to impose the will of the majority on the minority with every means at their disposal. Debate and dialogue are things of the past, the rule of law discarded, individual rights ignored. We have strayed very far from the original Greek concept of freedom.