The mother of all witch hunts: Daily Bullshit, July 20, 2016

Failed Turkish coup

I erred yesterday in stating that over 20,000 people had been arrested in the purge. The correct phrasing from Gallup was “detained or suspended.”[1] The posting has been corrected. In addition, we now have a report

that the education ministry fired 15,200 teachers across the country, while the interior ministry dismissed nearly 9,000 workers. Another 1,500 in the finance ministry were fired, as were hundreds more in the religious affairs directorate, the family and social policy ministry and prime minister’s office. The country’s higher education board demanded the resignations of 1,577 university deans.

The firings came on top of about 9,000 people Ankara has detained for suspected involvement in the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.[2]

Assuming Gallup’s email was correct, we might infer from this that something like 11,000 people had been suspended rather than detained “from Turkey’s army, police, and judiciary,”[3] and now nearly 17,000 teachers and university deans have been fired.[4]

I probably shouldn’t be using this kind of methodology. I don’t really have enough detail in either the Gallup email or Bredemeier’s report and, I’m supposed to say, it’s entirely too possible that I might have double-counted some people. That said, as of yesterday, the numbers above would seem to make a total of something like 37,000 people arrested, fired, or suspended. But today, the BBC reports that “[m]ore than 50,000 people [allegedly allied to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen] have been rounded up, sacked or suspended from their jobs.”[5] Which is to say, it’s not even possible to keep up. I’m reading this as the mother of all witch hunts with no end in sight. And it doesn’t help that women are feeling targeted: Among numerous examples, “[o]n Saturday, the day after the coup attempt, Veysel Taskin, an executive with the Trabzonspor soccer club, tweeted: ‘The properties and the wives of the infidel coup-plotting bastards are spoils of war’” and “people celebrating the government’s survival after the overthrow attempt shouted at [a woman] as they drove by: ‘Bitches, you too will get what you deserve!’”[6]

Turkish media announced that:

  • 15,200 teachers and other education staff had been sacked
  • 1,577 university deans were ordered to resign
  • 8,777 interior ministry workers were dismissed
  • 1,500 staff in the finance ministry had been fired
  • 257 people working in the prime minister’s office were sacked

Turkey’s media regulation body on Tuesday also revoked the licences of 24 radio and TV channels accused of links to Mr Gulen.

The news came on top of the arrests of more than 6,000 military personal and the sackings of nearly 9,000 police officers. About 3,000 judges have also been suspended.[7]

Given the breathtaking scope of this purge, one does not have to believe that “[Gulen’s] philosophy mixes a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue” to gather that Erdogan’s demand for his extradition from Pennsylvania, apparently still not formally filed, is more about settling a political score than it is any definitive evidence of Gulen’s involvement in the coup.[8] It really doesn’t help that “[a] Turkish government spokesman suggested that the US should be able to extradite the cleric ‘on grounds of suspicion’ rather than requiring facts of the case against him.”[9]

Ken Bredemeier, “Turkey Escalates Purge of Teachers, Workers Allegedly Connected to Failed Coup,” Global Security, July 19, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/turkey/2016/turkey-160719-voa01.htm

Pinar Ersoy, “Women are being silenced in Turkey’s crackdown,” Public Radio International, July 19, 2016, http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-07-19/women-are-being-silenced-turkeys-crackdown

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Turkey coup attempt: Crackdown toll passes 50,000,” July 20, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36842073


Donald Trump

“[Meredith] McIver said the similarities between the two speeches occurred after [Melania] Trump read aloud passages of [Michelle] Obama’s speech as an example of ‘people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people.’ Ms. McIver said she wrote the passages down in her notebook and ‘later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech.’” Which means that Melania Trump was aware of the plagiarism and gave the speech anyway. Under such circumstances and assuming McIver’s veracity, I would accept Donald Trump’s decision not to accept McIver’s offer to resign.[10] But Melania Trump clearly bears some responsibility.

Meanwhile, Niall Stanage’s claim that “[t]he Republican Party largely succeeded Tuesday in unifying around Donald Trump and getting its convention back on track”[11] should be taken with more than a grain of salt. Much as I would appreciate vindication for my earlier certainty that Republicans would come out of the convention singing Kumbaya, Reid Epstein reports that “the combined allied forces of the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee had so demoralized the stop-Trump delegates that many of them went home, not bothering to participate in the Trump coronation.”[12]

Sorry, but I was wrong and so is Stanage. The Republican Party may be mostly united but is by no means entirely united. Further, even those who support Trump largely do so out of antipathy to Hillary Clinton.[13]

I continue to believe that #NeverTrump dissenters are mostly neoconservatives who are most prominent not for their numbers among the U.S. population but for the influence they have gained inside the Washington, D.C., beltway. Such influence does not translate directly into votes and, since a show of force did not materialize,[14] we really don’t know how much strength the #NeverTrump crowd might have fielded on the convention floor. I’m inclined to think neoconservative electoral power is actually rather limited—they win only in alliance with social conservatives and authoritarian populists but because they may not be clear on these distinctions, they may very well overestimate their own popularity. Because Trump appeals to authoritarian populists and at least splits the social conservative vote, neoconservative dissent probably won’t matter much in terms of getting elected. It will matter, as it has since at least the Reagan administration, in terms of governing.

Kyle Cheney and Seung Min Kim, “GOP gives Trump half-hearted embrace,” Politico, July 20, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/trump-relationship-republicans-convention-225891

Reid J. Epstein, “Why ‘Never Trump’ Never Really Happened in Cleveland,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2016/07/20/why-never-trump-never-really-happened-in-cleveland/

Ryan Lizza, “Three Problems with the Melania Trump Plagiarism Admission,” New Yorker, July 20, 2016, http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/three-problems-with-the-melania-trump-plagiarism-admission

Kristina Peterson, “Writer Meredith McIver Apologizes for Copied Phrases in Melania Trump’s Speech,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/writer-meredith-mciver-apologizes-for-copied-phrases-in-melania-trumps-speech-1469034584

Niall Stanage, “GOP works to unify around Trump,” Hill, July 20, 2016, http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/288450-gop-works-to-unify-around-trump


  1. [1]Gallup to Gallup Analytics list, July 19, 2016, http://www.gallup.com/products/170987/gallup-analytics.aspx
  2. [2]Ken Bredemeier, “Turkey Escalates Purge of Teachers, Workers Allegedly Connected to Failed Coup,” Global Security, July 19, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/turkey/2016/turkey-160719-voa01.htm
  3. [3]Gallup to Gallup Analytics list, July 19, 2016, http://www.gallup.com/products/170987/gallup-analytics.aspx
  4. [4]Ken Bredemeier, “Turkey Escalates Purge of Teachers, Workers Allegedly Connected to Failed Coup,” Global Security, July 19, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/turkey/2016/turkey-160719-voa01.htm
  5. [5]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Turkey coup attempt: Crackdown toll passes 50,000,” July 20, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36842073
  6. [6]Pinar Ersoy, “Women are being silenced in Turkey’s crackdown,” Public Radio International, July 19, 2016, http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-07-19/women-are-being-silenced-turkeys-crackdown
  7. [7]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Turkey coup attempt: Crackdown toll passes 50,000,” July 20, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36842073
  8. [8]Ken Bredemeier, “Turkey Escalates Purge of Teachers, Workers Allegedly Connected to Failed Coup,” Global Security, July 19, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/turkey/2016/turkey-160719-voa01.htm
  9. [9]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Turkey coup attempt: Crackdown toll passes 50,000,” July 20, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36842073
  10. [10]Kristina Peterson, “Writer Meredith McIver Apologizes for Copied Phrases in Melania Trump’s Speech,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/writer-meredith-mciver-apologizes-for-copied-phrases-in-melania-trumps-speech-1469034584
  11. [11]Niall Stanage, “GOP works to unify around Trump,” Hill, July 20, 2016, http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/288450-gop-works-to-unify-around-trump
  12. [12]Reid J. Epstein, “Why ‘Never Trump’ Never Really Happened in Cleveland,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2016/07/20/why-never-trump-never-really-happened-in-cleveland/
  13. [13]Kyle Cheney and Seung Min Kim, “GOP gives Trump half-hearted embrace,” Politico, July 20, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/trump-relationship-republicans-convention-225891
  14. [14]Reid J. Epstein, “Why ‘Never Trump’ Never Really Happened in Cleveland,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2016/07/20/why-never-trump-never-really-happened-in-cleveland/

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