Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Back to Normal in Istanbul

After I left a meeting today, I walked back towards the metro station to take the train home.  It's a perfectly normal route for me; meetings are often held in the Taksim area because it's so central to everyone.  Then it struck me - I was walking through the site of the Sunday bombing.  There were no additional police (that is to say, no more than usual), no additional barricades, and people were walking around enjoying the beautiful weather.  It was so normal.

In Turkey's ongoing war with the PKK, perhaps as many as 40,000 people have died in the last thirty years, in terrorist attacks, military operations, and the civilians caught in the crossfire between the PKK and the military.  Sadly, this is a country that is used to constant, "low-level" acts of terror.  By this I mean incidents that kill 2 or 3 or 6 people, not mass casualty events.  Imagine what would have happened if a similar bomb had gone off in DC or any other American city.  The site would be cordoned off for weeks, traffic blocked temporarily or permanently around the area, and no one would want to go near the area, no matter how central it may be to one's daily commute.  Turkey doesn't have that mentality.  For better or worse, Turkish people carry on with their business after these tragic attacks.


  1. this is obvious, but i still want to say it. america isn't used to the attacks like they are. it's the same mentality of a rough neighborhood vs the quiet suburbs. memphis vs jonesboro? i think jonesboro is fairly crime free? anyway. they are desensitized to the horror would be my observation. but maybe i'm wrong and their culture is just more optimistic.

  2. I think that while the media and politicians wailed and gnashed their teeth, people would get back to work. Since 1993 (the time period I was able to quickly find data for) almost 4,500 people have been murdered in the District alone. Last year in the U.S. more than 15k people were murdered, usually in a more personal way than a bomb, but murdered nonetheless. This is a considerable drop from 1990 when there were 60M fewer people and 8k more murders. I think Americans are made of sterner stuff then you give credit for. We deal with violent death every single day.

  3. Argh I had a long comment typed but Beej just jumped on my computer and closed out the page. More later.

  4. Sort of like that site..."Shit my cat types"?

  5. Whenever I hear "Like a G6" by the group Far East Movement, I'm reminded of you. Except their movement is on a G6 Luxury Jet, I guess!

  6. I think I get what you are saying. And I really like what you have said.

    Down here, the cartels blow something up, throw a bunch of grenades, or have a big battle and a few days later, you'd never know. At some point you have to get back to living your life I guess. And people do.

    Personally though, I have hard time reconciling the reports or scenes of what happened with the places I am passing by again. Especially when the violence seems so random and the offenders are not satisfied just to kill an individual they are after. Yeah, murders happen in the District but they are usually, like a poster mentioned, very personal. Not usually someone just out for blood, to make a statement, and not caring about how many innocents they hit in the process. I think it is the difference between how we react to the crime that happens every day in the District and the way everyone reacted to the Beltway shooter. Or Columbine or the Oklahoma City bombings.

    We don't just say, "Hey there was a bombing here, move on." Some other places in the world they do. They have to or their societies would shut down.