Roger L. Simon

Not So Romantic Anymore

I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled a lot in my life, but one place I have never been, though I have always wanted to, is Istanbul. I’ve never seen St. Sofia or the Blue Mosque, never bargained for rugs in the bazaar — a weakness for a thriller writer, I admit. But these days it seems I am unlikely to fill this gap in my personal knowledge. According to Robert Pollock’s “The Sick Man of Europe–Again” in today’s WSJ, things are very bleak indeed in Turkey, which has become rife with anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.

Perhaps the most bizarre anti-American story au courant in the Turkish capital is the “eighth planet” theory, which holds not only that the U.S. knows of an impending asteroid strike, but that we know it’s going to hit North America. Hence our desire to colonize the Middle East.

It all sounds loony, I know. But such stories are told in all seriousness at the most powerful dinner tables in Ankara. The common thread is that almost everything the U.S. is doing in the world–even tsunami relief–has malevolent motivations, usually with the implication that we’re acting as muscle for the Jews.

On the other hand, Cliff emails the following:

The Turks are like the French in Normandy – tremendously fond of
Americans, open-hearted, generous, and helpful. And their English is
usually much better.

If you ever really want to go to Istanbul I could give you the names of several people who would be glad to spend days touring you around.

I lived in Turkey one summer in the 80’s, have visited again, and
frequently have Turks visiting my home.

He also blames the Istanbul tabloid press, which he likens to the British, for some of this.