A spat between the Turkish government and the United States over police misconduct got personal when the mayor of Ankara took to Twitter Wednesday and called State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf a “stupid blonde.”
Mayor Melih Gokcek, whom the New York Times notes is a close ally of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was essentially accusing the State Department of hypocrisy for criticizing Turkey’s heavy hand against anti-government protesters, while remaining silent about the death of Baltimore man Freddie Gray in police custody, an event which led to several days of rioting and looting. Gokcek chose to make this challenge with a bit of Photoshopping and an insulting taunt: “Where are you, stupid blonde, who accused Turkish police of using disproportionate force?”
HADİ SARIŞIN CEVAP VERSENE… COME ON BLONDE ANSWER NOW… pic.twitter.com/gTeftDEWdg
— İbrahim Melih Gökçek (@06melihgokcek) April 29, 2015
Gokcek is really into the all-caps style of Twitter shouting, by the way. All of his Tweets seem to be written like that.
He also appears quite taken with Ms. Harf’s golden tresses. “According to the blonde girl, the government’s reaction during the Gezi Park protests were worrisome, but when it comes to your country, it is normal to declare a curfew,” he said in another Tweet.
The Washington Post believes this “stupid blonde” theme was kicked off by an article in “pro-government news outlet Ensonhaber.com,” which referred to her as such.
In the Gezi Park incident Gokcek referred to, Turkish riot police blasted protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, and water cannon in a surprise attack, to clear them out of a park so that regime supporters could hold a rally. Some of the people caught up in that melee were very old, or very young. Eight deaths and hundreds of injuries were reported.
Supporters of the Erdogan regime responded to Gokcek’s outburst with a viral “Come on, blonde, answer now!” taunt on Twitter, and demonstrated great enthusiasm for the notion that Balitmore’s riots somehow absolve the Turkish government of responsibility for every sharp elbow it has ever thrown. That idea is not confined to Turkey, as the Washington Post found similar charges of hypocrisy emanating from such noble strongholds of human rights as Russia, China, and Iran.
For her part, Harf addressed the controversy in a press briefing on Wednesday. “I really don’t think I’m going to dignify them with a response,” she said of Gokcek’s insults.
She also insisted President Obama had addressed the Baltimore situation, and insisted the United States’ record of “openly transparently addressing challenges” compared favorably to “any other country’s on the planet.”