WASHINGTON AND BEYOND: A MIDYEAR LOOK
We started the New Year in utter amazement and bewilderment!
In spite of all the pro Hillary predictions, polls, political correctness and popular vote (Hillary had outpaced Trump by 2.9 million votes) Trump won in the November 2016 elections..
As Turkish Americans we tried to understand what happened..
More Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than any other losing presidential candidate in US history.
This brings us to Electoral College and Electoral votes. What is that?
The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.
Electoral votes are allocated among the states based on the Census. Every state is allocated a number of votes equal to the number of senators and representatives in its U.S. Congressional delegation—two votes for its senators in the U.S. Senate plus a number of votes equal to the number of its members in the U. S. House of Representatives.
Every state has two Senators in the Senate. Every state has a number of Representatives in proportion to its population, each representing about 700,000 persons.
Each state chooses electors, amounting in number to that state’s combined total of senators and representatives. There are a total of 538 electors, corresponding to the 435 representatives and 100 senators, plus the three electors in the District of Columbia.
The map below explains why the Electoral College is so important: If popular vote was the only determinant in the election, the populous coastal and liberal states would have determined the outcome. The less populous, inner states would not have their voices heard. This would repeat in every election, with only one group winning all the time, leading to increased polarization in the country. In 2008 the U.S. elected a black, liberal, progressive president; he was elected again in 2012, truly a historical event. Now in 2016 it is time to hear the other side and other ideas. In a true democracy everybody is heard and respected. If the trends get to be too extreme the middle ground eventually wins because polarization has been historically avoided and the middle ground is large and effective, developed over the decades by using a balanced system of election.
Additionally the independent Judiciary, independent Congress are solid pillars of the system. These put a break on extreme trends and ensure stability and continuity.
Map of the 2016 U.S. presidential election projections:
• In red: 304 Trump electors from 30 states + ¼ ME
• In blue: 227 Clinton electors from 19 states + ¾ ME and D.C.
These concepts are well and good on paper but in real life many political developments are hard to accept passively.
Just as we lose sleep worrying about Turkish politics, now we get tense when we look what is happening under Trump presidency.
The conflict between President Trump and the U.S. press makes us pause and think. Liberals support the treatment of Trump by the press. Trump finds the press extremely one sided and prejudiced. We watch it with anxiety. We can’t help remembering that Turkish issues are usually treated with much prejudice and robotic bias in the U.S. press. Think of the Armenian issue and its mindless repetition of questionable claims. Take PKK-YPG issues, the press almost takes a “freedom fighters” view of these terror groups. Yet regardless of the many faults, a free press is a most essential part of a democracy.
Getting back to the Turkish American community, it is going on with its business with much imagination and creativity.
The Turkish American Business Network in the greater Washington area is growing larger and stronger. A recent gathering in February attracted more than 100 business people of all kinds.
ATA-DC has celebrated Women’s Day in March with a fund-raiser.
Let me quote from the announcement: “All proceeds will benefit Bridge to Turkiye Fund (BTF)-ATA-DC “Save a Girl, Save a Community” Fund which aims to empower underprivileged girls throughout Turkey, supporting education. BTF is a United Nations accredited, US-based, volunteer run, charitable non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization”
The potential impact of this group’s activity can be appreciated by taking a look at the statistics below:
• In Turkey, 5% boys, 11% girls of official primary school ages are not in school.
• Nearly 45% of secondary school age girls are not in school, compared to 29% of boys of the same age.The biggest disparity can be seen between the poorest and the richest children (Source World Bank 2014)
Turkish American Political Action Committees (PACs) are now active in many parts of the U.S. In the 115th Congress we already have 142 Turkey Caucus members, representing 41 states. This is probably Turkish-Americans’ most important advocacy activity. Most critical is the simple step of reaching out and communicating with our own regional politicians, in order to correct the constant spread of false information about Turks and Turkey. The aim is to prevent misunderstandings and eliminating that sense of helplessness we used to feel before we became politically active. Soon there will be intense individual campaigning nationwide to reach out to more members of the Congress and you will be hearing about it.
In March the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) held its annual Conference in Houston, Texas , home to many Turkish Americans.
April brought us Turkish National Sovereignty and Children’s Day celebrations on April 23rd which is recognized by UNICEF as International Children’s Day.
The Turkish American Steering Committee (TASC) held a big Festival and Peace and Solidarity Walk on April 23rd. The location was West Potomac Park near the Lincoln Memorial in DC. Earth Day events took place that weekend in the vicinity. Kenan Dogulu the famous Turkish pop singer was the star of the event and he opened his program with an amazing rendering of “10.Yil Marsi”, accompanied by more than 4000 festival goers.
ATA-DC and Ataturk School celebrated 23rd of April with its traditional annual festivities.
Ataturk Society of America (ASA) held a celebratory event by the Ataturk statue next to the Turkish Embassy Residence. It was attended by record number of people many with their young children.
Let us take a moment and look at the month of April in recent Turkish history:
April 25, 1915 ANZAC Day:
On April 25, 1915 British, French, Australian and New Zealander troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula and were beaten by the Turkish defenders, led by Mustafa Kemal, the future President Ataturk of Turkey.
“The campaign was one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war. In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the nation’s history: a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the declaration of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal (Kemal Ata türk), who first rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli. The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand and the date of the landing.”
April 29, 1916
“In the single largest surrender of troops in British history to that time, some 13,000 soldiers under the command of Sir Charles Townshend gave in on April 29, 1916, after withstanding nearly five months under siege by Turkish and German forces at the town of Kut-al-Amara, on the Tigris River in the Basra province of Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq).”
Between 2014-2018 Ottomans fought 124 battles on all fronts of the Empire against the Ally forces and their proxies. (Wikipedia).
Come April 24, we started to hear “alternate facts” of Armenian claims.
Consider that such “facts” are used to support this absurd possibility in California: Hampig Sassounian who ambushed and murdered the Turkish diplomat Bulent Arikan and who was sentenced to life imprisonment as a terrorist almost got paroled to become free. Turkish community was outraged. Thousands of protest letters were sent to the Governor of California who reversed this offensive decision.
On January 26 ,Texas State House introduced H.R.191, a document filled with lies and exaggerations about Armenian claims.Ultimate aim of H.R. 191 is to stop trade between Turkey and Texas. It is a futile and nonsensical attempt. Only the Federal Government makes the laws dealing with foreign policy issues.
On March 22 H.Res. 220 was introduced by Rep.David Trott. (R-MI). It has 45 co-sponsors:36 democrats, 9 republicans. It is referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
On April 24 S. Res.136 was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). It has 11 cosponsors: 8 Democrats, 3 Republicans. It is refereed to Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.
In all cases cases the Turkish American community is responding in an organized and united way.
These Armenian claims are a sober reminder to Turkish Americans that vigilance, hard work, meticulous attention to detail, careful historical research and effective promotion of truth are always needed, that every member of the community must be well informed and well versed in our Turkish history.
In May we had many events starting with the celebration of May 19 Youth and Sports Day.
Ataturk Society of America(ASA) organized a program by Professor George Gawrych of Baylor University, which was attended by a record crowd followed by a large celebration at ASA headquarters. Professor Gawrych is the author of “The Young Ataturk” which can be obtained through Amazon.
ATA-DC held a Festival Fundraiser for its oncoming annual fall festival. It is amazing that ATA-DC puts on this huge festival every fall totally funded by its own resources and organized by its own volunteers..It is a monumental effort and let us all give a big hand to ATA-DC.
• American Turkish Council (ATC) held it annual meeting , concentrating on defense and commerce issues, with top level speakers from Turkey and U.S.
• Federation of Turkish American Associations (FTAA) had its annual Turkish walk in NY.
• American Turkish Society (ATS) held its annual gala in NY attended by many Turkish and Turkish American business leaders.
In May we also had a very disturbing US decision to arm the PKK related YPG/PYD terror groups in northern Syria with heavy arms.
( The Yekîneyên Parastina Gel -YPG ) is the military arm of the Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat-PYD ), the Syrian affiliate of the PKK. Most of the YPG commanders and fighters are Qandil-Kurds, i.e. PKK)
These groups are considered terrorist by the US, yet knowingly arming them with heavy weapons, ostensibly to fight ISIS is mind boggling.
As a last word I would like to add that the terror disaster in Manchester left me numb. Just about that time in Turkey a number of civilians and soldiers fell victim to PKK attacks. With the above US decision we will see more Turkish victims to terror.
The fight against terror will not be won if nations pick and choose and if they are not united as one voice against it. While offering our condolences to all terror victims we hope and pray that the double standards in fight against terror would end soon.
Have a great summer…