Would American civilians stand up for democracy the way the Turks did? Hundreds of thousands of Turkish civilians blocked soldiers and tanks to prevent a military coup of the elected government. At least 265 people died fighting the coup attempt.
Of course, as Americans, we like to think we would do the same. But would we really ? In the last Presidential election only 58% of Americans eligible to vote even bothered to show up to flip a lever. How many would go out and stand in front of a tank?
We Americans love to talk about how brave we are and how much we love freedom. But as they say, “Talk is cheap”.
At 2am, armed soldiers took over the television station TRT and the Turkish anchorwoman Tijen Karas was forced at gunpoint to read a statement given to her by the coup leaders. Later civilians and regular police took back the station and drove out the coup soldiers. Instead of fleeing for home, the young anchorwoman continued on the air and reported the events as they happened. Frightened and drenched in sweat, Tijen Karas stayed in crowded studio conducting live interviews with the civilians who had freed her. So far, American most news has not even mentioned the name of Tijen Karas..
Definitely Turkey deserves to call itself “the home of the brave”. If it will ever be the “land of the free” still remains to be seen. Unfortunately President Erdogan is using this opportunity to crack down and restrict freedom for all, instead of just going after those seeking violence. Thousands have now been thrown in prison or forced out of their jobs as Erdogan “purges” the country of opposition.
What we do know for certain is that the average Turkish civilian loves freedom and democracy and is willing to fight for it at a moment’s notice. We have always thought of these as “American” values. Apparently they are Turkish ones as well.
Will the Turkish civilians ever get the democracy and freedom they risked their lives for? So far it looks like they may just end up with a dictatorship disguised as a democracy. These brave Turks deserve better than that.