This article was originally published here on Politico.com on Thursday, November 23, 2017.
Every year, the day before Thanksgiving, the fire department in the Washington, D.C., suburb where I live posts a “Keep Your Family Safe this Thanksgiving” bulletin on its website, offering tips about how to avoid injury during the holiday. It being Thanksgiving, most of the advice is geared toward kitchen safety—like don’t pour water or grease on a cooktop fire, and make sure your sleeves are rolled up so they don’t get caught in a stovetop flame. In addition to these appeals to common sense, Montgomery County, Maryland, fire officials devote a special section of their post just for deep frying turkey. This increasingly popular practice, the firefighters warn, is “extremely hazardous if proper precautions are not taken.”
What can be said about the bird called turkey is also true of the country with the same name. Through a toxic brew of conspiracy mongering, thuggery and rage—at Kurds, the European Union, the United States and others—Turkish political leaders have seemingly fried the brains of pro-government journalists, editors, academics, diplomats and average Turks, and crippled their capacity to reason. Since the failed coup d’etat attempt in Turkey last year, many of these people, whether out of true belief or in the service of self-preservation, have ceaselessly repeated the conspiracies propagated by the Turkish government, sowing an atmosphere of fear and paranoia in Turkey. At the center of this is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who—unlike Uncle Earl on the back porch hoping to avoid cataclysmic poultry ignition—seems to benefit from a country on the verge of explosion.
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