I am often surprised when colleagues or students who know I have some affiliation with Turkey comment on Turkey-related news. I like this – it is clearly a nice and good-hearted effort to connect. I am, however, often shocked at how LATE their commentary comes – and it seems clear to me that this is related to the slowness with which the U.S. media reports on all but the biggest Turkish news). In any case, today, a colleague of mine registered her shock at, as she put it, “recent comments made by Rick Perry about Turkey. I’m so sorry he said that – what does M. think about that?”
I had to stop for a second. “Rick Perry?” I questioned myself, “the dude who dropped out of the Presidential race a few weeks ago?”
I cocked my head to the side and Karagoz said, “yes, m’lady, that’s what this doltish friend of yours is talking about – old news like old stinky forgotten cheese at the back of the fridge.” Hacivad Bey, ever the peacemaker, heaved Karagoz off of the armchair rest and under the couch next to me and I returned to the conversation – one of my first since regaining my voice after this flu – “oh – yes, Rick Perry’s debate comment about Turkey and Hamas and terrorism, I remember that.”
Now, in case you didn’t hear, as I tend not to write about politics on this blog (as the rest of my life and teaching this semester is caught up in it and I was seeking a break) a few weeks ago, the Turkish – and even the American – newspapers were alight with this story that in many ways led to Rick Perry’s decision to end his Presidential bid.
But it’s been a while….but my colleague was making an attempt to connect – and I have to recognize that. At least he wasn’t asking me about whether M. would take on another wife, as another colleague has done (you can read about that here). So, just to remind us, here is what Mr. Perry said during a debate when asked whether Turkey still belongs in NATO:
“Obviously, when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then yes — not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO, but it’s time for the U.S., when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it.”
Of course, this was interpreted all sorts of ways depending on the news outlet you found yourself in. Taken at face value, I find this statement offensive, although I am not exactly a fan of the AKP government on all matters. I would not at all call the AKP party “Islamic Terrorists” although some in Turkey might disagree – though I can’t comment further for fear of potential censor action. You can ask me more via email.
The bottom line is, no matter how Fox News tried to spin this, Perry’s backpedaling comments of justification didn’t cut the mustard, and the dude stepped out of the race. M. and I watched the fallout in our own ways – he on the Turkish news websites and me on the English news websites…chalking it up to another under-informed American making an ass of himself…but for the moment, I made pleasant conversation with my colleague, using the moment as an opportunity to coax a bit of Turkish cultural competence-building comments into the conversation…and hope that they will exhibit some cultural responsiveness over time (see page link above on “what is cultural responsiveness?” just below the blog header stuff). This process is something I have grown used to doing – and should be happy to do as a result of the gift that is my marriage to someone born somewhere else…
I have to interrupt myself to tell you that Karagoz is dancing in the corner, waiting for me to be done with my writing. I can see he wants to tell me something. “M’lady – I cannot wait anymore – I have to tell you what I have learned today – this Rick Perry – he really is one JIVE TURKEY! I looked it up on Urban Dictionary and it said ‘a. One who speaks as though they know what they’re talking about…though they do not. b. a bullshitter.’
- Karagöz: Consider this a formal introduction to himself (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- Cross-cultural marriage on the road: Karagöz shadow puppets as backseat drivers (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- Turkey And Terrorists (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Rick Perry Suggests Turkey Should Be Kicked Out Of NATO, Calls Leaders ‘Islamic Terrorists’ (mediaite.com)
- RIck Perry Doubles Down, Calls Leaders of Turkey ‘Islamic Terrorists’ Again (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- Rick Perry: Turkey Run By Islamic Terrorists, Should Be Kicked Out Of NATO (outsidethebeltway.com)