Don’t be fooled by Hizmet conspiracy theories

The March 31 opinion article by London-based attorney Robert Amsterdam (“Why should Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen operate charter schools on US Military bases?”) that appeared on The Hill’s Congress Blog was as flawed in content as it was in character. 

In his piece, Mr. Amsterdam, a henchman for the Turkish government who has made a healthy living working on behalf of oligarchs and billionaires, makes wild, inaccurate and meritless claims about the Hizmet movement, Fethullah Gülen and U.S. charter schools. Mr. Amsterdam has made a practice of spreading conspiracy theories on behalf of the increasingly dangerous regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His goal: to undermine and discredit what the Turkish government sees as a fundamental threat to its authoritarianism: the pro-civil society, pro-peace, pro-democratic movement inspired by Mr. Gülen. Trumped up allegations and falsehoods are Mr. Amsterdam’s currency. The U.S. government and its allies should take a closer look into his background, his motives and the tangled web of lies he weaves.

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Mr. Amsterdam has a long history of representing clients with deep pockets and big problems. His client roster includes disgraced former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been accused and convicted of criminal activities. He also seems to have a habit of representing individuals who are intolerant of dissent. In 2009, the Congressional Research Service noted that as prime minister, Thaksin was “cracking down on groups critical of his government, including several media outlets and organizations.” 

This sounds familiar.

Recently, we saw how Mr. Amsterdam’s new favorite client, President Erdogan, brought his own form of media crackdown and harassment to Washington, D.C., where his security team “manhandled reporters” and “sought to physically remove one journalist” from an event at the Brookings Institution, “kicked another and threw a third, a woman, to the sidewalk,” according to a statement from the National Press Club. 

Mr. Amsterdam once wrote, “The rule of law is universal.” Maybe he believes that is true, except in Turkey? Or perhaps, the truth is that Mr. Amsterdam will spout the line of whoever is paying him on any given day.

From Y. Alp Aslandogan, executive director, Alliance for Shared Values, New York


Trump's populism should be cause for concern as convention nears

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE is a whining, bigoted and arrogant establishment billionaire elitist who evokes a new form of reactionary populism not seen since the days former Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

He is often childish and crude in his attacks and incites his followers with repetitive and scripted reality TV-style sound bites that lack substance or detail. He is the ultimate self-promoter and egomaniac — the P.T. Barnum of our political system — who exudes a shameless and cavalier approach to dealing with complicated issues and relationships. His refusal to immediately disavow and distance himself from the hate-inspired groups who support his daily tirades that prey on the fears and frustration of all Americans should give one pause.

There is an Aesop fable, “The ass and his purchaser,” that concludes, “You are known by the company you keep.” With that being said, and in the spirit of the Trump-style method of campaigning, the question that needs to be asked as the primaries wind down and the GOP convention approaches is: Are you going to be the “ass” that strays to join with Trump?

From Randolph Yunker, New York