Whitewashing terrorism under the guise of gender equality
by İsmail Selim Eşsiz
Dec 12, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by İsmail Selim Eşsiz
Dec 12, 2016 12:00 am
If a statistic of which issues Reader's Corner has tackled the most were to be made, it is highly likely that the media's approach to terror organizations and coverage of terror attacks in Turkey would be sitting at the top. As media organizations fail to form a unified front against terror, both abroad and close to home, journalists continue to feed one of the largest calamities of the new century.
This weekend's terrorist attack and the media coverage that ensued once again remind us of the urgent need for the adoption of principles this article has expressed in earlier pieces. The critique of the aforementioned coverage will be the subject of next week's corner, if necessary. I offer my condolences to those who lost their loved ones and pray that the injured make a swift recovery following the heinous bombings on Dec. 10.
Last week, Rod Nordland from The New York Times wrote an article titled, "Crackdown in Turkey threatens a haven of gender equality built by Kurds," published on Dec. 7. In the wake of the publication, several journalists and readers on social media criticized the article of whitewashing the terrorist PKK, a terrorist organization that has plagued the country in recent history by instigating numerous atrocities against civilians.
Let us look at a paragraph from The New York Times article: "This was the world as envisioned by the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The PKK may be a terrorist organization in the view of the Turkish government, Europe and the U.S. but it has also long made women's rights a center piece of its political platform."
The useful phrase: "Everything before the ‘but' is an empty gesture," seems apt here; while it would not be acceptable to limit a word into such a narrow field, in this case the saying rings true.
Nordland is not alone in these sentiments either. Many articles in Western media along with pro-PKK media organizations in Turkey try to play the gender card in an attempt to whitewash the PKK as a mouthpiece for women's rights' in order to brand them as freedom fighters. This tactic in their propaganda initially gained traction during the skirmishes between the PKK's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh in the early days of the Syrian Civil War, with article after article being published in human interest sections. They were also successful in garnering sympathy for the YPG in Western countries.
It appears that the same tactic is being employed for the PKK today; an entity recognized as a terrorist organization by almost the entire Western sphere is being whitewashed. After all, when we criticized the media's approach to the YPG in the past due to its close proximity with the PKK, it was the Western media that attempted to differentiate between the two organizations. Yet today, those distinctions apparently do not matter, as the PKK has begun to receive the same treatment despite being firmly recognized as a terrorist organization by the EU, the U.N. and the U.S.
Yes, the PKK indeed seems to believe in gender equality: They are equally as eager to use women as suicide bombers as they are men. Yet, the grisly nature of their terrorism is glossed over by promotional pieces that have surfaced in seeming support of the PKK, which also attempt to take the moral high ground by portraying Turkey as a country that threatens gender equality in what is a win-win propaganda tactic for the PKK.