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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Here's a radical idea for fighting terrorism: Stand up for freedom of speech. Or is that just too much to expect from our government?

Why did he apologize for telling the truth?
Vice President Joe Biden has apologized to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for suggesting that Turkey helped encourage formation of the Islamic State terrorist network.

Biden created a fuss during a speech at Harvard University when he noted that the ranks of ISIS swelled as thousands of fighters crossed the border from Turkey to Syria. 

He said Erdogan conceded to him that this was a mistake and was now prepared to help America combat the ISIS offensive.

Biden's remarks drew swift condemnation from Erdogan, who not only denied conceding any such error but also denied the underlying facts.

As The Times put it, "Erdogan, despite widespread evidence to the contrary, denied that Turkey's long, porous border had enabled thousands of militants to cross onto the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields since the Syrian civil war began in 2011."

No one familiar with Erdogan's practice of inventing history and suppressing dissent would expect him to be deterred by the small matter of evidence to the contrary.

And no one familiar with America's mealy-mouthed policy toward Turkey would be surprised that Biden quickly backed down.

The Obama administration is trying very hard to persuade Erdogan to join the assault on ISIS (or ISIL or whatever they're calling themselves this week).

Instead, even as ISIS closes in on towns along the Turkish border, Turkey has ramped up attacks on journalists.

When the Times reported last month that Turkey continues to be fertile ground for ISIS recruitment, Erdogan's supporters took aim at the reporter. 

The Times noted that Ceylan Yeginsu, who is Turkish, received threats by email and social media. Two pro-government newspapers published front-page photographs of Yeginsu "and suggested she was a traitor and a foreign agent."

Erdogan's thugs showed disdain for America as well as for free speech when he met with Biden in New York on Sept. 25. Reporters from two Turkish newspapers that have been critical of Erdogan's government were evicted from the hotel and "manhandled" by Erdogan's bodyguards, according to Reporters Without Borders.

"Your existence is a crime," an Erdogan adviser told one of the reporters. 

Reporters Without Borders monitors media bullying around the world. It ranks Turkey a dismal 154th of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index.

Why would the vice president of the United States apologize for telling the truth about a regime with that sort of record?

Maybe we're just not the champions of freedom we used to be. Have we really become that scared, or that cynical?

I hate to think so, but I'm not so sure after looking at that index.

After all, we're only number 46.

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