Trumpocalypse 2017: At least we’re not Turkey

When things feel like they are going bad in the U.S., what I like to do to make me feel better is look around the world to find a country that is having worse problems than we are.

Trust me, there are plenty.

Last time I did this, I talked about the power struggle in The Gambia, where the nation’s outgoing president refused to step down after he was democratically voted out of office. It was an episode that required military intervention from neighboring countries, and fortunately ended peacefully.

Today I’d like to discuss a country that’s northern half is part of Europe, and bottom half is part of Asia, and yet, neither continent probably wants any of it: Turkey.

Outside observers have long concluded that Turkey has been experiencing a democratic backslide under the rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who served as prime minister from 2003 to 2014, and president after that.

The average person likely doesn’t know who Erdogan is. But you may have heard his name in a bizarre story that went viral in 2014 that underscores his perceived authoritarian rule. That involved a Turkish man who was arrested in 2014 after he compared Erdogan to Gollum on social media. Last year, the man was slapped with a one-year prison sentence.

Imagine that happening in America. If we locked up everyone who badmouthed Trump on social media, the only people left standing would be Sean Hannity and the entire state of Kentucky. And I would be in Guantanamo.

But those are the type of things that happen in Turkey. The country has been largely criticized in recent years for its tendency to turn a blind eye to ISIS fighters traveling through the country to get to other European nations.

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That being said, it certainly doesn’t diminish the fact that Turkey has also been victimized by deadly attacks from terrorists.

Erdogan’s regime has become even more oppressive since a surprise coup attempt last July, when members of the military organized overnight to – unsuccessfully – overthrow his regime.

Since then, his regime has suspended or fired more than 12,000 government employees, and arrested some 50,000 soldiers, police officers, teachers, judges, academics and lawmakers suspected of being dissidents.

Turkey also jailed more journalists than any other country in 2016, a number estimated to have reached greater than 150.

And it’s only getting worse. Earlier this year, the Turkish Parliament voted to allow a referendum that would give the president of the country – who happens to be Erdogan – greater power and authority. Historically in the country, the prime minister is the government chief and president is mostly a ceremonial role.

The vote in parliament was so contentious that one opposition lawmaker was sent to the hospital after having her prosthetic arm ripped off in a fistfight on the Parliament floor.

The referendum on the new Constitution is in April, and it’s actually led to international diplomatic disputes as Turkey has been seeking to campaign in countries where Turkish citizens live abroad.

But after Germany and the Netherlands refused to let Turkish officials in their country to do so, the Turkish government called the two countries “Nazis” and “fascists.”

So, as you can see, things are going awfully swell in Turkey.

Now this isn’t to say that we should observe the chaos happening abroad and consequently shrug off the problems happening here as trivial matters, but it does help to offer a little perspective.

Today, House Republicans postponed the vote on the new health care bill once they realized they didn’t have enough votes to approve it. But don’t celebrate … they will be back, and whatever they bring with them will not be good for lower-class Americans.

And with each passing day, the links between Trump associates and Russian officials continues to grow.

So things aren’t quite peachy here either.

But hey, at least we live in a country where I get to call our president Gollum, Sauron, Voldemort, Darth Vader, King Joffrey, Scar from the Lion King, the Wicked Witch, Cruella de Vil, Dr. Evil, Walter White, the Boogie Man and Donald Trump combined.

That’s right, I’m making a bold prediction that in 20 years from now, we’ll unanimously consider Donald Trump synonymous to a cartoon fictional villain.

Until then, we’ll keep trying him out as the top executive of the most powerful nation in the world.

Should go well.

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At the end of the day, does it really matter which attacks get more coverage?

People like to compare global tragedies and wonder why some get more attention than others.

Take last week for example. The world collectively mourned for Brussels after 32 people were killed in two separate terrorist attacks. Major news networks featured breaking coverage of the incident immediately and didn’t relent throughout the day.

The New York Times gave it a full page spread on their website.

On Sunday, a terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan resulted in 70 deaths — 29 of them children. As soon as I heard this happened, I turned to every major news hub. They were all talking about the U.S. presidential election. No story broke.

It wasn’t even breaking news on the New York Times.

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So what gives? One simple conclusion to make is that the media is biased towards the West, possibly even towards white people.

In a country where distrust of Muslims increases by the day, thanks in large part to scathing rhetoric by some presidential candidates (I won’t say which one), it’s no shocker that people didn’t exactly drop what they’re doing to suddenly shed tears for Pakistan, the world’s second most populous Muslim-majority country.

Ditto for Turkey, too, a nation of which more than 90 percent of its citizens are Muslim. A March 13 bombing in Ankara killed 37 people. But nobody seemed to really care.

Is it unfair to pick and choose which tragedies we should mourn? Of course. Race and religion shouldn’t be a factor when we’re talking about the murder of innocents.

But the bottom line is people harbor greater fear and sympathy for something that more closely relates to them. A lot of people have visited Brussels. Many Americans probably have Belgian ancestors.

Additionally, the attack was committed by ISIS — that radical Islamic group we hear about every single day. Whose sympathizers have committed an attack in the U.S. in the last six months.

It goes without saying that the Brussels attack feels more like a direct threat to the United

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States than the ones in Pakistan and Turkey, which, while committed by terrorists, had more to do with a regional conflict in both areas that has little do with the West.

The last thing we need to remember is that while NBC, FOX and CNN are big news networks, they’re not the predominant news channels of the world. The Pakistan bombing surely got significant coverage in Asia and the Middle East. Just because something is not covered in America doesn’t mean it’s not covered.

Wondering why our American media is too biased to cover all parts of the world is a form of bias in of itself.

Again, I’m not trying to say what’s right and what’s wrong. All worldwide acts of terror suck and should be mourned accordingly. But I do think it is important to try and think about why certain tragedies get more coverage than others. Or why people on Facebook don’t react to all world events the same.

When news happens, for good or for bad, you can learn as much about is as you want by conducting your own research. And maybe we should stop caring so much about the amount of coverage something gets.

Not only is it an unproductive waste of your time, but it dehumanizes the entire significance of the ordeal and its victims.

The only coverage that should matter to any of us is the amount of time we devote to caring about it.

Or more importantly, the amount of coverage the Weinblog™ gives it.

Pakistan and Turkey, I see you.