The desire to easily understand other countries and generate some stereotypes about them is natural. It is doubtful that even the experts could deeply comprehend the composition of such different cultures and worldviews. And if a country is "below" us in the civilization scale on our minds, we tend to show less interest in it. Consequently, it is not surprising that the West is today contented with the half-face and superficial evaluations of Turkey. When you ask a citizen of Turkey about an African country, you might see a similar approach. We could now easily say that orientalism is a global aspect of us all.
This desire to make a distinction also has created an interesting discourse on Turkey. The country is mostly analyzed only through Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which shows the superficiality more clearly. The reviews are based on the presumption that the majority unarguably accepts what Erdoğan says and does, or they gave so much authority to Erdoğan that what he says and does could be automatically implemented. Surely, this is a comforting approach since one does not need to look at the society and understand its mobility. With this perception, one only assumes that the followers of Erdoğan comprise the majority in the country and this majority is ignorant, or Erdoğan is a dictator and does not allow any dissident voice. Both methods lead to the same conclusion: observing the prime minister is enough.
This created such a habit that most of the Western observers today seem to be addicted to watching Erdoğan. They almost never develop a new opinion about Turkey unless the prime minister speaks. It is hard to believe but many journalists and politicians do not even consider what Erdoğan does. For instance, they do not consider that most of his remarks are uttered as a message to the public and not practically implemented. What the prime minister utters is represented as Turkey's condition.
Another effort that is in a more intellectual guise is making a scientific comparison of Erdoğan. This method is quite popular since an average audience finds it profound. The recently accepted theory is the similarity between Erdoğan and Putin. They both provided social welfare and stability and then started to manipulate it for their own interests. They oppress on opposition, quell street protests with police force and silence the media. In both countries, the liberties are discarded step by step and they approach the medieval darkness with each step, this comparison suggests.
It is obvious that this discourse appeals to an audience in the West and it is also true that the democracy standard of Turkey and Russia have not reached the level of the West. But it has always been so. Today, the new and changing aspect of Turkey that determines the country's inclinations is neither the police's behavior nor the media's approach. What is new is that the unacceptability of the situation has become the social norm. Also, even a simple observer could require accepting that the liberties in the country has expanded to a great extent within the last decade. In terms of freedom of expression, Turkey is now experiencing its most liberal period.
The same goes for media. The realm of freedom for pro-government media organs is relatively limited since they choose a certain role for themselves in an atmosphere of conflict. However, the media organs opposing the government do not have such a problem as the most affronted prime minister so far has been Erdoğan, and the situation is ongoing with all its intensity. For a while, Turkey has been a country where everything could be clearly written and every tone of language could be freely used.
If only Erdoğan was a dictator. Then our job would be much easier and our analyses would be right.