[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Two days ago, terrorists attacked Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport. Ostensibly, the bad guys were Russians who believed in the cause of ISIS. Or maybe, these warped and perverted cowards just used ISIS ‘s brains and brawn to even some other perceived score or slight.
The 24-hour news channels carried the story in a lead position. By my observation, coverage even went wall-to-wall on most channels. The talking heads introduced “experts,” who rambled on about the state of Turkish politics, the layout of the airport, and whether it was ISIS, the PKK, or Hamas.
It doesn’t matter which, or who, or why. The “experts” got most of their commentary wrong, and I was woefully ashamed about how little American newscasters and politicians demonstrated they know about one of our staunchest allies located in the Gateway to the World.
What puts me in the position of being able to call out the networks?
I have vacationed and worked in Turkey on a regular basis since 1989. Almost three decades of knowing the people on an intimate basis, trying to learn the language, eating their foods and studying their day-to-day existence, provide my qualifications. I can say without reservation that the vast majority of Turkish citizens, especially in the big cities like Istanbul, are very Western in culture. They bristle at the stereotypes of their hometown as shown in Hollywood flicks. They beam with pride when they show you the ultra-modern malls and cinemas, fabulous restaurants and world-class resorts. They relish the history of their gorgeous mosques and the grandeur of their bazaars.
Turks are proud and, sometimes, overbearing. As Americans, we should relate because we have some of the same tendencies. The Turkish family unit is as strong, or stronger, than that of the US. Although much of the population is uneducated by US standards, there is a giant premium placed on those who attend university, and an even higher value on those who have attended US institutions. It is almost impossible to attend a decent dinner party and not run across a Turkish grad of MIT or USC.
The Turkish economy has been very hot for almost twenty years. Expansion is on the rise. A sleek new cruise ship terminal is being built. A new airport is underway. If cranes in the sky measure progress, Istanbul is rivaled by few cities.
So explain to me why, then, do we not care that more than 40 people died in a suicide bombing attack? Surely, even that toll will continue to rise. A couple of weeks ago, the mass shooting in Orlando that targeted gays incensed the entire free-thinking world. In the case of Istanbul, the bombing targeted Muslims and I saw very few messages of support. I engaged in no barbershop conversation about the event. Instead, I heard the empty vessels of political drums pounding on about Hillary versus Donald.
Have we begun to value one kind of life above another? It seems the left values protecting kids from gun violence, but not developing babies from abortion. Do we prefer the political rush we get from arguing gun control above the actual lives lost? It certainly seems the political right puts Constitution above common sense. Or, maybe it is just cooler in the US to be LGBT than it is to be a Muslim.
In the US today, it is trendy to be transgender, but it is not so attention grabbing to be a follower of a giant religious group. Or maybe the story is less compelling because the news organizations can’t politicize a bombing attack on Muslims by Muslims, as they can a gun attack on a Parisian news weekly.
Or, maybe, they just prefer not to do so.
News media allows scandal after scandal and lie after lie to be swept under the rug for the sake of corporate political ideology. Every network is in the tank for one candidate or another. It borders on private control of media message, which really isn’t much different than the overt pressure the Turkish government places on its media when an incident like this occurs. The difference is that their anchors successfully pronounce our president’s name. A similarity is that neither US reporters nor Turkish would prefer to be complicit in the constant spins and half-truths of their masters, but they are and for different reasons that are more connected than it seems.
Decent people of the world must set aside their political differences and connect to put an end to random acts of terror. It is time to stand up and say, “Not in my house!” It is time to identify and repel radical and abhorrent behavior, regardless of its source, regardless of domestic or international.
It is time to recognize that when Charlie Hebdo was targeted, that we were first to #StandWithParis. Together, we plastered Facebook and Twitter, admonishing everyone to #StandWithOrlando. Where is the outrage now? Where are the #StandWithIstanbul hashtags? Where is the emotional connection? Is it missing because of our ignorance of the geography or our distaste for the religion?
Culturally, I miss the Call to Prayers that each morning and night echo through Istanbul’s cobblestone streets in the same way that I would miss apple pie or “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Both are connected in that they are followed by good people with deep senses of tradition.
When Britain voted to exit the EU, we complained that the markets would go down because our markets are connected. When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, it was for all mankind because we sought to connect across an Iron Curtain.
Let’s demand that our governments connect and act together to support and protect ALL of the good people, regardless of lifestyle, religion or race. Demonstrate that we care about those who we don’t know, even a half-world away.
The MBMI Companies provide services to valued clients in Turkey, in the areas of Security, Marketing and Media Consulting. We have no reservations about continuing to do so. Under different circumstances, the bombs might have exploded in a US airport. The children lying on the sidewalks of Ataturk International could have been from your elementary school. In the fight against terrorists, we are all connected.
Indeed, in life, we are all connected. But for now, I’ll settle for a few more #StandWithIstanbul hashtags.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]